Summer may not be the best season in Tucson, but my family and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Here's why:

1 Summer camp. I am so impressed at the variety and quality of summer camp options in Tucson. My boys have taken part in the District 16 Community Schools Summer Camp, Fenster Ranch Summer Camp and La Paloma Tennis Camp.

At each session, Preston, 7, and Griffin, 4, make new friends. They explore topics and try activities not offered at school or home. Preston's highlights include participating in a ropes course and performing as a clown. Griffin's favorite part of summer camp is water play days.

2 No homework. Of course Preston likes the fact that he has no homework, but my husband, Michael, and I like that as well. We don't have to nag him to complete his work, so our evenings are more relaxed.

3 Summer reading programs. We don't take a break from reading! The Pima County Public Library has a nice summer reading program to keep us all motivated during the summer.

Preston also completed the Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program, aimed at first- through sixth-graders. Preston has been reading "The 39 Clues" series. Griffin enjoys a variety of picture books - the sillier, the better.

4 Fireworks. Simply spectacular! We found a spot in the Foothills from which to view multiple fireworks displays on the Fourth of July.

5 Swimming. When our friends in cooler climates ask how we handle the heat, we reply, "We go swimming!" Whether we're jumping into our pool, meeting friends at the Jewish Community Center's pool or splashing at Brandi Fenton Memorial Park, we have a blast.

6 Dining deals. This is the second summer that Michael and I have signed up for the Tucson Newspapers Dining Club Card. From April through October, we buy one entrée and get one free at any of 30 participating restaurants, including Saffron and North, two of our favorites.

7 Desert wildlife. A good friend summed it up perfectly when she said, "The desert is alive!" It's fascinating to be surrounded by such a wide variety of desert creatures during the summer. Griffin thinks the quail chicks are fun to watch. Preston enjoys the bobcat's visits.

8 The FIFA World Cup. We are a family that likes playing and watching soccer. We cheered for the U.S. and watched the drama of the tournament unfold.

Looking at the calendar, I realize I should probably start shopping for school supplies, but it's still summer break for a little while longer. I'll be at the pool!

E-mail Kelley Helfand at