Summer Vacations Create Family Memories


Whether your family goes camping, hits the beaches, visits historical sites or just remains local for a “staycation,” summer vacations are a great time to create and to capture family memories.

A Brief History of Summer Vacations

The concept of “taking a vacation” for most of us means getting away from the office and our usual routine for one or two weeks. No emails, no meetings, no cares, right? Prior to World War II, only the well-to-do had the means to just up and travel when they wanted to and take what most of us know as a vacation. My immigrant ancestors from Germany and Ireland didn’t have the luxury of a vacation – summer or other seasons; basically, if you didn’t work, you didn’t get paid! Since the mid-20th century, most companies provide vacation time as a benefit to employees and most of us look forward to our vacations!

But why summer? The common belief has been that the practice is rooted in America’s early history as a rural, agrarian economy and the public education system. During the summer, children were expected to work in the fields and help with the harvest. But recent thinking holds that it was in fact urban America with its hot steamy cities and public health issues that pushed for a summer break when children could head out to the country.

Do You Remember Summer Vacations From the Past?

For me, summer vacations were not very frequent but I remember two as a child: Niagara Falls, New York and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I grew up in New York which is filled with history and whenever we went on vacation, my mother always made sure there was some element of “learning” about our country’s past. For Niagara it meant the War of 1812 since many of the key battles took place along the Great Lakes. And with the Gettysburg trip, we visited the historic battlefield as well as all the monuments as we learned about the Civil War.

While some of us only have memories, did you realize that you may actually be sitting on a treasure trove of family mementos from past vacations? I recently went through a box of items from my family and guess what I found? Old 8mm home movies from those two vacations from my youth as well as flyers and brochures from the sites we visited. And then, of course, there are the photos taken of me, my brother and my mother as we enjoyed our getaways in the mid-1970s.

Best Ways to Capture Vacation Memories

Here are some ideas on capturing memories of summer vacation, both those from your youth and those you may be planning for this summer or in the future:

  • Record Your Memories: Even if you don’t have any tangible mementos of your past vacations, write down your memories or better yet, record them as stories using Saving Memories Forever.
  • Preserve Paper and Photos: Don’t forget that over time flyers and brochures will fade and break down if not preserved using archival envelopes and folders. Also, make sure your photos are also preserved for posterity using sound archival methods.
  • Scan Items for Safekeeping: Besides preserving items, make sure you scan the important ones and create digital images. If the originals are lost, you’ll always have these files as a backup.
  • Convert Home Movies and Slides: If you are sitting on slides and movies from vacation, make sure you convert them to DVD or digital files. And don’t wait until the film or slides break down! You can find converters that will let you perform the conversion yourself but many use an outside service. Why? They are the experts at converting these items and they are conveniently located at local superstores (Walmart and Costco) or drug stores (Walgreen’s and CVS).
  • Create a Scrapbook: A fun project – even one saved for cold Winter days – is to create a scrapbook of old summer vacation memories. Choose whether to use the traditional book format or digital scrapbooking and include photos, stories and more.
  • Share with Your Family: The best part about discovering items related to past family vacations is sharing them with your loved ones. Amazing stories are sure to pop up as you all look at the photos, movies and other items. Also remember to use Saving Memories Forever to interview those other family members who were on vacation with you and capture their stories!


© 2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee


A Flip-Pal mobile scanner Success Story

flip-pal stitched photo

[Editor’s Note: Saving Memories Forever co-founder Harvey Baker shares his experience with using the Flip-Pal® mobile scanner during a holiday activity with family members.]

It was the day after Thanksgiving and most of the family was sitting in our downstairs media room. It had been a pleasant after-Thanksgiving meal with more turkey and leftovers of everything else. We had been working on clearing out one of our rooms where we had a pile of books that we wanted to give to the library as well as boxes and boxes of old photographs.

What To Do With Boxes of Family Photos

We had taken a lot of photos years before there were digital cameras and they were stored in processing envelopes straight from the drug store, photo albums and as single pictures. As we went through pictures, there seemed to be a story that went with each photo. We had a great time trying to figure out which child was which, we were amazed at how the children all looked the same up to a certain age, and we discussed where one picture or another was taken. My daughter would point to one and say, “I would like a copy of this one.” There were no negatives for some of the photos and even if there were, it would have been a chore to pick out which negative went with which photo and mark it somehow to create prints later.

The Flip-Pal – An Easy Sharing Solution

Thankfully we didn’t have to do this. We had been given a Flip-Pal mobile scanner a couple of weeks earlier and now was the ideal time to use it. We followed the quick start instructions and in no time we were ready to scan. It was simple to do.

The scanning was the easy part; the difficult part was moderating the debate as to which picture should be scanned! The pictures were passed around and any picture that someone wanted copied came my way to be scanned. As each selected picture was passed over, I put it on the Flip-Pal scanner bed, closed the cover and pressed the scan button. In seconds, the picture was scanned. I also did a quick check of the LED color display to make sure I hadn’t placed the photograph askew on the scanner. Then, on to the next photo!

There were five of us looking at each picture and we each wanted specific photos to be saved. What could have been a complicated process of writing down “who wanted what picture” was made easy by scanning them with the Flip-Pal. The scans were quick and the resulting pictures looked good.

There were several pictures that were too large to fit on the bed of the Flip-Pal, but following the instructions and scanning large images in segments, we knew we would be able to reconstruct the pictures using the EasyStitch program included for free with the Flip-Pal Toolbox software.

We spent a pleasant hour or so going through about half of the pictures and making copies while sitting around on a sofa while the Flip Pal sat on my lap. I scanned just over 200 pictures in the two hours during which we sat and talked.

Photos Preserved and Shared in a Snap

Once finished, downloading the pictures to the computer was a snap. After taking out the SD card and inserting it into the computer card reader, the image files were easily transferred to the computer. Next, I used the Flip Pal EasyStitch software to stitch together the scanned segments. Once all the pictures were reconstructed, I imported them to Picasa and cropped them and rotated them as required. I then exported them to a folder on my desktop. In the coming weeks, I will use Dropbox to store the pictures and share the files with the family so they will have them and be able to make the copies they want.

The Flip Pal was a great tool to get photographs that were sitting around and collecting dust into the computers and hands of the people who wanted to keep them.

When my father died he had thousands of slides. We had no idea of where they were taken or why. We disposed of all the slides that we could not recognize and kept only those that had people in them. I wish we had a day or set of days where we went through his pictures and got the stories that were behind them.

The Flip Pal was quick easy and fun to use. Now to put all the stories we talked about during the scanning process on Saving Memories Forever!