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Steering Your Teen Towards a Meaningful Summer

Posted by Terry Cross on Feb 19, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Advertisements are already appearing for summer camps, programs, and activities.  While college-bound teens should be carefully planning to look good on those college applications, they still need to do more than pad their transcript. Is there a way to partner fun with future?  

bryson rose receiving award high school student
Elizabeth Hartley, of Scholarship Gold, says teens should be mindful of three goals when choosing summer experiences:  go for something fun, something service-oriented, and something for personal growth.


Set apart summer experiences.

Certainly, many teens are taking on full- or part-time jobs in preparation for their future, but they should also consider experiences that will set the summer apart from the regular school year. A trip abroad, volunteering, engaging the community, attending a camp. Weston Cregger, a senior from Covenant Classical School, had this to say about his summer experience:

“Summer break can be educational while still having fun. A great way for high school students to spend their summer is to seek opportunities in the field that interests them. Job shadowing, volunteering, or attending camps are just some of the many ways you can set yourself apart from other students on college applications.

summer science camp students experiment“I had the privilege of attending the Paper Science and Engineering Camp at NC State University. The camp focused on using biomaterials such as wood and sugar cane to produce a more sustainable, renewable energy source as opposed to petroleum-based products. Each day consisted of two 50-minute lectures (taught by PhDs) and two 2-3 hour labs. My favorite lab was de-inking a piece of copy paper. Although this task may sound simple, it proved to be our most difficult lab. By using the concept of hydrophobicity, my group was able to de-ink our piece of copy paper using a method called air floatation. We separated the toner particles from the fibers that make up copy paper. I was well prepared to interact with the elements at hand and understand the chemistry behind each experiment, thanks to Mrs. Quillen, my Chemistry teacher.

“My group was chosen to make a presentation on the de-inking of copy paper during the parent reception on Friday. My experience from CCS English class helped me prepare a powerpoint for our group. My public speaking skills that have been developed over the many years at CCS helped me thoroughly present information for our group and answer the audience questions at the end. I had an incredible time learning about the many ways our country is making advances in sustainable energy resources and bio materials. The camp was a success, and it helped me realize that a career in engineering is definitely for me!”

Weston concludes by encouraging others to find ways to get some hands-on experience in their field of interest.  


Hands on experience in areas of interest.

students theater acting high schoolSo what are some “duel-purpose” options? Is your teen interested in horses? What about volunteering at Wings of Eagles Ranch, a riding camp specifically designed for children with handicaps? Thinking of a major in political science? Sign up to be a page at the Raleigh legislature, or for Teen Pact Leadership School, a Christian non-profit educational ministry, known for its teen-oriented programs on leadership, citizenship, and government.  Is science their thing? Get in touch with the Arbor Day Foundation or the County Soil and Water Commission. Do they like working with children? Why not be a Parks and Rec camp leader or assistant leader? Or referee at Rec League games. Short-term missions are enriching experiences and they can be local or abroad. Church youth groups have scores of ideas.

Encourage them to take initiative.

College admissions boards are interested in seeing applicants who take initiative, so starting a pet/house-sitting business or neighborhood club might fit the bill. As you can see, thoughtfully choosing experiences can serve many purposes. Acteen summer funtivities not only make summer fuller, but they can stretch your teen, enabling them to grow in responsibility,
character, and perspective. Looking ahead this early in the game will help them set goals and map out interests. Many choices meet both goals of service and personal growth. And don’t forget the 3rd goal:  fun! Eating s’mores around a firepit or doing backflips off the diving board should not be neglected!

Here’s hoping the last few summers of family togetherness will be fulfilling, fruitful, and fun.

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Topics: Education, Graduation, college