First off, acknowledge the arrival of summer and what that means for your guild. Chat with your guild about the summer slowdown. Some players lose perspective on the balance between in game goals and offline activities, and it helps to gently remind everyone that a couple of slower paced months does not mean the sky is falling. Every guild has its peaks and valleys, but if you've created a guild with a clear vision, a carefully recruited roster, and good organization, people will stick around through the tougher times, including a summer slowdown.
The nice thing about a slower pace during summer is that you know it's temporary and things will eventually pick up again in the fall when everyone's back in school or back to work. Instead of looking at it as a setback, keep things in perspective and look at summer almost like a sports team's off season. You might progress a little slower but it's a chance to spend time shoring up gaps in the guild that usually tend to get overlooked.
The summer slowdown is hardest on guilds that are focused on endgame content since you need a pretty full roster of members in order to get anything done. But just because you might be a bit shorthanded to raid, you can still get things done in guild and keep morale up. A big part of raiding is the prep in advance. Instead of having members join PUG groups to fill in gaps in gear, set aside nights to set up guild groups. It gives members a chance to bond, and you'll probably fill those gaps faster than a PUG group would. Everyone needs consumables, so organize a mat farming night, divide up the guild, and spread out to harvest and craft. You can make what's normally a boring grind into a fun night by running a trivia contest or a "name that song" game while you build up your guild resources. Or you can run through some achievements together that have been on everyone's to-do list. There are many goals that you can focus on that don't necessarily require a set number of people to be on, so take advantage of the summer to work on those.
Work with what you have
Even at the peak of summer, you'll still have plenty of times when the bulk of the guild will be on. So instead of looking at how many will be missing from week to week, focus on finding out when people will be online and not vacationing and build your event calendar from there. There's a good chance that normal raid or guild event nights won't be the best nights during summer, but work with what you can, even if the event nights rotate from week to week. Creating a schedule, and staying on top of things, will enable the guild to make progress and still give breathing room to enjoy the summer.
Raid canceled -- hurray!
Usually, a canceled raid is a blow to the guild and can cause a drop in morale. But during the summer, it's good for players to be offline. Even if someone isn't taking a week off to travel to a fancy resort, it's good for players to step away from things for a bit to enjoy the nice weather and summer activities. Hopefully, if all your members are on the same page about summer, they won't make missing players feel guilty for not being online for raids or guild activities. In fact, as a guild leader, you should encourage members to log off and enjoy summer. It seems counterintuitive to suggest that members not play, but if you heap on guild activities and announce lofty goals, you're making it harder for players to choose between game and life, and for some, they'll go as far as neglecting life for loyalty to the game and guild.
Celebrate the season
Summer is a time for farmers' markets, festivals, parades, and carnivals, so why not take time to celebrate it in game? There are all sorts of ways to host a guild or even server-wide celebration, and it's a nice way to keep morale up and keep members active. The nice thing about a celebration is that you don't need a set number of people online to run it, and you can add in prizes so that everyone walks away with something afterwards (and who doesn't like loot?). And if you go big and open it up to everyone in game, you can do a little PR for your guild and maybe even attract some prospective members at the same time.
In the end, I can't stress enough how important it is to reach that balance between life and the game, that applies no matter what time of year. Summer might mean that raid boss might live a few extra months, but better that than missing out on memorable trips and fun summer activities. If you can tough it out, the guild will have a morale boost in the fall when everyone returns and you settle back into your usual play schedule.
Do you have a guild problem that you just can't seem to resolve? Have a guild issue that you'd like to discuss? Every week, Karen Bryan takes on reader questions about guild management right here in The Guild Counsel column. She'll offer advice, give practical tips, and even provide a shoulder to lean on for those who are taking up the challenging task of running a guild.