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The Transformational Power of an Immersive Summer Program

My friends who went to summer camp—I wasn’t lucky enough to get the chance myself—light up when they talk about their experiences. For so many of them, it was a transformative part of their lives. A chance to try new things, to take risks. A chance to explore interests. A chance to meet new people. Maybe even a chance to feel like someone new themselves.

Summer programs today have come a long way from old-fashioned summer camp. With so many summer programs to choose from, there’s a unique opportunity to find an opportunity that both suits a kid and expands their world. “An excellent summer program provides students with opportunities and experiences that are hard to match at home,” says Moira Kelly, president of EXPLO. “They are places where you can deepen interests and discover new ones.” At EXPLO, for example, kids get to do all kinds of real-life career exploration, from arguing a case in front of a state supreme court justice to doing actual forensic investigation.

An Interest-Based Summer Program

In addition to finding unique opportunities, one of the biggest benefits of a summer program might be the learning that happens outside the classroom. “For us,” says Kelly, “the key piece is that we don’t put walls around classroom learning. You will learn as much out on the playing field or when you’re in the talent show or if you’re in the residence hall as you will when you’re in class. They really fuse together.” That’s why immersive programming matters, says Kelly. It’s not just about the educational aspects of a summer program. For teens, it’s about getting the feeling of college, as well as getting the chance to practice independence in a safe environment.

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There are often social benefits, too. Tweens and teens are going through many changes and discovering their identities, and stepping away from the everyday can open doors. “People don’t know you, and that often gives teens the freedom to experiment with different versions of themselves, which is incredibly important,” she says. Plus, kids can find like-minded friends. “Often you will find your people at a summer program even if you’ve had a hard time finding them at home.  Attending an interest-based program means finding other people who get lit up by the same things as you. It can be a tremendous confidence booster.”

EXPLO parents see the change in their kids, too.
Brought to you by Explo, Learning through Exploration

Kelly says parents tell her that their kids come home excited and chatty, with new ideas about colleges, careers, extracurriculars, and more. “The magic that happens at summer programs is you often discover a new version of yourself—more confident, more mature, and more resourceful,” says Kelly. The time away also leads some kids to finally realize they need to do things for themselves like their laundry or keeping a schedule. “They’re more independent,” says Kelly, as well as often more grateful, more mature, more adventuresome, and more interested in the world. “Their world is bigger.”

About EXPLO Summer Programs

Grades 8-10: EXPLO’s residential 3-week summer program provides an opportunity for 8th to 10th graders to explore their interests from athletics to acting to espionage (and much, much more) and make friends in the process. Sessions in 2021 start June 27 and July 18.

Grades 10-12: For 10th to 12th graders, EXPLO’s residential 2-week summer program offers the chance to dig into career exploration through real-life projects crafted by experts in the field–all while meeting new people and having fun. Sessions in 2021 start June 27, July 11, and July 25.

Sharon Holbrook is managing editor of Your Teen. Sign up for her new and captivating newsletter. 

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