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When it gets to be August, you might realize that your wallet is getting a bit fatigued. Fear not! Here are three ways to keep the kids occupied and not spend a dime.

When I was little, our family lived in Haven Beach, Spray Beach and Holgate. Once a summer we’d do the obligatory rainy day ride to Barnegat Lighthouse. But I never checked out a beach up there until the summer I graduated from college. I was completely shocked how much bigger the beaches really were. When I got back to the South end, I told my buddies about this discovery and only a few of them had explored the Northern most beaches either. I felt like a Barnegat Light ambassador all summer. If you’ve never checked these beaches out, I can assure you the beautiful dunes are quite a sight to behold. How will this occupy your kids though? Take them for a ride on the Barnegat Light tram. It was started in 1998 to help make the rental market stronger for homes in the area as many families found the long walk to the water’s edge a tad daunting. The tram is a four-wheel-drive tractor that tows a 14-foot cart with built-in seats. It will pick you up at the beach entrance from 3rd to 9th Streets. The walk would be almost a mile over the dunes. Think of it like a hay ride on the beach, and it is completely free.

Now on to free concerts. LBI has a wealth of free outdoor concerts with some really great classic LBI bands as well as some terrific up and coming bands that I usually have to go to a bar to hear. Why I just went to my first one last week, I have no idea. They are packed with kids swaying to the music and running around, but the adults can kick back on their lawn chair and listen to music. It really is “fun for the whole family” as they say. Bring a beach chair or a big blanket and settle in for a really nice night outside. You’ll even catch a free sunset. I’d recommend packing your dinner and some refreshments for that picnic feel.

Upcoming schedule (check your park’s website to double check for last minute changes)
- Bayview Park at 68th Street in Brant Beach (concerts start at 7)
• August 6: After the Reign
• August 13: Elaine & Friends
• August 20: Guy Smiley Band
• August 27: Face Down

- Veterans’ Bicentennial Park at Engelside Avenue in Beach Haven (concerts start at 7:30)
• August 7: The Kootz
• August 14: Suite Inspiration
• August 21: The Barley Boys
• August 28: Rock Lobster

- Sunset Park at West Salem Avenue in Harvey Cedars (concerts start at 7)
• August 7: Face Down
• August 14: Eleven Eleven
• August 21: Shorty Long
(Hint: Foodies will deliver to the flag pole in the park)

- Waterfront Park at 10th Street in Ship Bottom (concerts start at 7)
• August 8: Sir Rod
• August 15: Bridemaids
• August 22: Parrots

And finally, perhaps you prefer to invent your own free fun and really get creative in the summer. This one came from friendly neighbor. Note: I have not actually done this, but I thought the idea was so innovative that I am compelled to share. You could create your own “Clam Camp.” This one is a little tricky because you do need to find access to the bay but you could always use one of the bay beaches. Hopefully your bayfront neighbor will help you out. Kids can start with clam “training.” Show them how to wiggle their toes, arm them with a bucket and then have them wade out to practice “catching” the clams. My neighbor suggested two days of clam training and then they would be ready to pack their lunch and head out on their boat for the real hard core clam catching. You could eliminate the the boat part to keep it free, although if they catch a lot of clams, you would have a free dinner!

There are a lot of great activities on LBI, and not all require a big cash commitment so go out and have some fun.

- by Beth Foster deTuro
Beth Foster deTuro believes Long Beach Island is the best little sand bar in the whole world. Passionate about clams on the half shell, sailing on Barnegat Bay and taking long naps on the beach are just a few of her favorite Island activities. When is she not busy staring at the ocean she can be found pulling weeds at her cottage in Harvey Cedars.