Tweens, Teens, and Summer Break

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Friday, June 4, 2010

This is another great article from  With spring and summer upon us, these would be great ideas!

Most kids have eight or ten weeks of summer vacation from school, and most of us parents would like to see them doing something other than sleeping until noon and then playing computer games until dark. In a difficult economy, it’s challenging to find summer jobs, and even volunteer assignments may be scarce. So what can your kids do to keep themselves productive and out of trouble once school’s out? Check out these possibilities:

  • Get trained for a future job. Teenagers who swim well can enroll in lifeguard training programs. Some are run by city aquatics programs, others by the American Red Cross. Programs are modestly priced (sometimes even free) and satisfactory completion can lead to part-time jobs at local pools during the school year and school vacations.
  • Get prepared for a part-time business. Computer-savvy kids can use training manuals and workshops to turn themselves into the neighborhood “geek squad,” ready to set up and troubleshoot hardware and create web sites, online forms, podcasts and videos for small businesses that lack the time or skills. Even middle schoolers can probably handle broadcast e-mail, Twitter and Facebook pages for friends and overwhelmed businesspeople.
  • Go into business. One middle-schooler we know started herbs in the family greenhouse and sold hundreds of little plants at the neighborhood yard sale. Four high school orchestra members marketed themselves as musicians, and worked their way through high school playing at receptions, bar mitzahs and retirement home events.
  • Tutor or coach. Teenagers could combine babysitting with teaching—and generate higher wages—by drilling little kids on their multiplication tables or providing more individual coaching than is available at sports camps. High school students with strong math or foreign language skills often ask $25 to $50 an hour to tutor pre-calculus or Latin vocabulary. Private swim lessons may cost $20 per half hour at a pool, so a teenager with water safety instructor certification could probably charge $10 to $15 per lesson.
  • Become a “personal concierge.” How’s that for a modern spin on “mother’s helper” or “handyman?” Middle and high school students could commit to spending a couple of hours (or more) each day running errands and handling small jobs for busy parents, an elderly person or working couples. This might be gardening, minor house repairs, window-washing, car-washing, dog-walking, escorting children to sports practice, grocery shopping, doing laundry, sewing on loose buttons or picking up dry cleaning.
  • Making connections for future jobs. Many day camp programs welcome volunteer assistants. Your kids won’t get paid, but they’ll be busy, and chances are, they’ll have a leg up if later applying for a paid recreation leader job. Some sleep-over camps have formal “leaders in training” programs.
  • Volunteer. A quick look at Volunteer Solutions, affiliated with United Way chapters, turns up such volunteer projects for those 12-17 as:
  • Historical society intern, assisting in the library, at a reception desk, with museum displays and as a guide or gift shop clerk.
  • Equestrian assistant, helping in a program that provides riding lessons for those with disabilities, by grooming, tacking, feeding and exercising horses, cleaning tack and leading horses during lessons.
  • Stagehand for a community theater
  • Special event assistant for a nonprofit fund-raiser: a golf tournament, fashion show, art exhibit, or bowling competition.
  • Comfort food “chef” for a hospice patient: create a meal or bake a cake.

Organize a community service project. Kids can complete community service requirements for school or youth group programs and get valuable experience by planning, publicizing and implementing their own projects.

Some ideas:

Run a book drive for deployed troops or your state prison and fund-raise to cover the cost of postage.

Collect toiletries for a women’s shelter.

Coordinate with local officials for a voter registration drive.

Plant pots and garden plots with vegetables that can be harvested for food banks.

These are all excellent ideas.  What would you add to the list?

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