Ugh. All the usual teen fun, jobs, and social stuff is on hold this summer, and in our houses it’s like pulling teeth to get our own teens on any sort of schedule and doing something meaningful. Even with some much-needed downtime and relaxed restrictions on gaming, there’s loads of time to fill with—hopefully—something more intentional, more purposeful.
We needed solutions, and we bet you can use some, too. That’s why we’ve collected a variety of creative ideas for things that teens can do right now, and won’t leave them with that sluggish where-did-the-day-go feeling. Best of all, it’s not too late to get in on the action—phew! Here are some great options your teen can take advantage of right now! (Provided you can get them out of bed, of course.)
Special Interest Camps
Hathaway Brown online summer programs. Whether your teen wants to learn to compose music for video games (seriously!), work on leadership skills, sharpen their cooking skills, or even explore representations of pandemic and illness in literature (timely!), Hathaway Brown has super-cool options for stay-at-home fun. Some camps are for girls only, and some are coed. All combine online and offline elements to avoid Zoom overload.
Agnes Scott College
Agnes Scott College, a liberal arts college located in Atlanta, has been offering summer camps for more than 30 years, including popular NASA, sports, and writing camps. (Already, this interests every kid in our house. Bingo!) And now they’re offering online summer programs! Each camp combines online learning with interactive, team-building elements so it’s definitely not just more screen time. Writing camps are offered for both creative writing buffs and for kids who want to polish up their writing skills for academic reasons. Sports camp incorporate fitness challenges, video lessons, check-ins, and Facebook groups to turn exercise at home into a fun, instructive group experience.
Laurel Springs. While our own families have been stumbling through online learning, Laurel Springs has been doing it since 1994. That’s because it offers a full-time online school curriculum. For summer, we’re checking out Laurel Springs’ micro-courses—three-week topical courses that explores one interest through learning and problem-solving. This summer’s micro-courses for high schoolers include fascinating topics like tiny homes, the science of sports, strategic use of money, and fun with physics. Middle school micro-courses are also super interesting, too. How are we going to choose?
Teach Me Wall Street
Teach Me Wall Street offers something totally new to us at Your Teen: a summer camp about Wall Street! Targeted to ages 13-18 (with smaller breakout groups by age group), its three weeks of camp cover the basics of Wall Street, the technology of Wall Street, and a focus on the ins and outs of trading. Choose one week or take them all for a discounted price. Teens love money (who doesn’t), so we’re counting on this one being a hit!
LEAP Week is a week-long leadership program that offers a jumpstart on top-notch career and life skills for teens and young adults ages 15 and up: networking, public speaking, goal setting, time and money management, health and fitness, gratitude, and more. Now in its 13th year, this summer’s program will be totally virtual and will feature both the inspiration of celebrity speakers and the intimacy of small-group interactions. Support and follow-up continue for the year after LEAP Week. (Love the idea of school-year booster shots of confidence!)
Landmark College online summer programs. Speaking of academics, Landmark is the go-to resource for kids with learning differences. It’s a college that exclusively serves these students and builds on the strengths of those differences. (So cool—we had no idea.) Landmark offers an online summer program for rising high school juniors and seniors that offers a taste of college and provides built-in support to students with learning disabilities, ADHD, executive function issues, and autism. (Psst … we also hear that resident therapy dogs make an appearance!)
The Whole Kid
The Whole Kid is another academic option for summer, and it’s unique in that it can be tailored to many different needs and stages in a kid’s life. At one point they might need a boost in a certain subject, at another—say, transitioning to high school—they might need a study skills refresher, and, later, it might be ACT/SAT prep. With so many other summer activities on hold, now might be prime time to brush up on readiness with the enrichment-style (aka FUN) activities offered by The Whole Kid. It’s all personalized for what each kid needs.
Shadow’s Edge is something completely different—a video game experience that provides all the soul-searching benefits of therapy, no therapist needed. (So creative!) Okay, so most of us have screen-loving teens … what if gaming could actually build emotional resilience and encourage artistic expression through art and journaling? Whatever our teens are going through, it’s always great to have another tool to lean on. We love, too, that this option is free—we’re definitely not opposed to spending money on our kids’ well-being, but free is always a nice perk!
Global Citizen Year
Global Citizen Year knows that leadership isn’t just for the corporate world—it’s the engine for true social change. This four-month program for new high school graduates offers a fall program for teens to learn powerful and practical skills for social impact. With college and other programs surrounded with COVID-shaped question marks, it’s nice to have an online program this fall that offers both structure and a chance for a teen to make their own mark. In 10 to 15 hours a week, new high school grads will engage in interactive online learning, workshops, and real-world projects. (Voter registration? Climate change? Teens pick.) Why think about this program right now? It’s a selective program, and deadlines are this summer. A nice perk: Tuition is on a sliding scale starting at $500.
Hello College. With summer plans largely on ice, why not plan ahead for college? With all these do-nothing (or at least do-less) days, it’s energizing to have a future to plan for—and teens do, of course. Hello College offers one-stop college planning, with consultation available on everything from understanding finances to building a solid college list and crafting a compelling essay. We love that Hello College can help find the right college fit socially, academically, and financially. But what parents might really want to know is that students who use it are less likely to transfer or change majors. They they’re more likely to graduate on time and with a job in their major. Be sure to check out their free consultation for Your Teen readers this summer – a special offer just for our favorite people (you!).