Dear American Girl,

I love being outside during the summer. But every time my friends and I hang out, they only want to go to the mall. If I bring up an idea for an outdoor game or suggest a walk to a park, they say no. I want to have fun with my friends, but I'm tired of being stuck inside. What can I do?
-I want sunshine!

Here's your advice:

Friendship is all about compromise. Make a deal with your friends. When they want to go to the mall, you could say, "I would love to go to the mall with you guys, but the park has lots of fun things to do, too. Why don't we play at the park for an hour and then go to the mall?" Good luck!
-Maitreyi, age 11, New Jersey

Since your friends like to shop, suggest going to an outdoor market. My friends and I love going to our local farmer's market. It's a great way to be outside and shop at the same time.
-An American Girl fan, age 13, Illinois

When my friends and I can't agree on what to do, we each write a suggestion on a slip of paper and put them in a bowl. Then someone draws a slip of paper without looking. This is a fair and easy way to decide what to do.
-Bethany, age 12, Michigan

You could always ask your friends to walk to an ice-cream shop or eat some cones while you sit in a park. You can't go wrong with ice cream!
-Phoenix, age 9, Colorado

Invite your friends to come to a party in your backyard. Set up a sprinkler and play fun games. You could even set up some tents and have a slumber party in the backyard. Your friends might have so much fun outside that they'll forget all about the mall.
-Megan, age 11, California

You can tell your friends, "I feel as if we need to get some sunshine. I would really like to play outside, but every time I ask if you want to, you always want to stay indoors. Could we please do something together outside?"
-Kylie, age 10, North Carolina

You can get together with these friends, but it might be a good idea to hang out with friends who also like to spend time outside. It's nice to do things with people who share your interests.
-Natalie, age 11, Maine

Try to think of a unique outdoor activity that everyone will enjoy, such as going to the zoo. Or organize a scavenger hunt. Then your friends might be more interested in the idea of spending time outdoors.
-Madison, age 13, New York

If your friends are true friends, they will be open to new activities. Tell them how you feel. They might not even realize that you're tired of being stuck inside.
-Zara, age 10, Virginia

You could say, "I like that idea, but it's such a pretty day. Could we do something outside instead?" If you ask them nicely, your friends might listen.
-Abby, age 12, Tennessee

Maybe your friends like to be inside where it's cool. Suggest going to a pool, having a water-balloon fight, or eating ice pops. All of you can cool off and have a lot of fun, too.
-Emily, age 11, Texas

Not all malls are indoors! If your friends are set on shopping, suggest going to an outdoor mall or shopping center. Ask a parent for ideas for places to shop.
-Meaghan, age 13, Florida

Think about this: Is going to the mall bothering you? Or is it that you don't share enough interests with these girls? If you aren't having fun with them, it might be time to start some new friendships.
-Christina, age 12, Massachusetts

Talk to your friends about taking turns choosing the activity. You could pick what you'd like to do one day, another girl could pick on another day, and so on. That way, every person gets to do what she wants.
-An American Girl fan, age 13, Tennessee

It's nice to spend time with friends, but if you really like to be outside, you don't need to be with them to enjoy the outdoors. Take your dog for a walk, go for a bike ride with a sibling, or go on a nature hike with a parent.
-An American Girl fan, age 11, North Carolina

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