I know it sounds crazy to be thinking of summer in December and this year is almost behind us. I am amazed at how many emails, as well as catalogues and packages have come through already describing extraordinary summer programs.
Why does this happen so early? Programs have a tendency to fill up, internships are hard to come by and doing what one really wants may not be an option a few months down the road. And remember, the point of having a wonderful and memorable summer is to find the program most suitable.
What are options for a wonderful summer? The sky’s the limit.
Full disclosure: I went to camp for years and I wish everyone could have a year or two of camp. Camp offers extraordinary opportunities to learn life skills, gain independence, experience the power of nature, gain leadership skills. According to The American Camp Association, campers say, Camp helped them make new friends, met kids different from themselves, helped them feel good about themselves, and allowed them to do things they were a first afraid to do (www.acacamps.org). I can agree with all these statements, as well as one more, perhaps making life long friends. There are a variety of types of camps from traditional – with water sports, land sports, camping in the wilderness to specialist camps involving acting and performance, specific sports, as well as travel camps.
Specific Programs Abroad
There seem to be 1000s of programs around the world offering intriguing summer opportunities from language acquisition, programs offering a first hand look at cultural immersion. Students have the option of going to European countries, SouthEast Asia, India, Nepal, China… the list carries on and on. There are programs combing volunteer service and travel in the US and abroad. Programs need to be suitable for student comfort level. I have visited several and no doubt, students come home transformed, and no doubt, language skills are sharp.
Boarding School Summer Programs
Boarding schools offer students a way to buff up school skills, live away from home and enjoy some recreational time as well. Just about every boarding school in the US and a few overseas offer some sort of summer program. Some may emphasize English language acquisition, some study skills, others might prep students for the year ahead. One school, Wolfeboro, in New Hampshire is complete study skills, with recreational activities in the afternoon (www.wolfeboro.org). The setting is magnificent.
College Campus Programs
Many campuses offer programs of interest like medicine, computer, language, journalism, test prep, etc. Students stay in dorms and get a ‘taste of college’. Keep in mind that many of these programs are run by independent companies and not by the universities themselves. Programs like Summer Discover Pre-College & Internships are quite popular, and offer a variety of options for teens around the country and in the UK. Summer Discovery has been around for over 50 years and is family owned. Journalism is often a popular major and American University has a summer program actually taught by American University School of Communication faculty and communication professionals: Discover the World of Communication: www.american.edu/soc/discover/ Students live in dorms build a digital portfolio, learn script writing and shoot ad edit a film, write a news story, etc.
Get a Job, Create a Job
A good old fashioned job is great. I know a few students who have worked jobs anywhere from scooping ice cream at Cold Stone Pizza, to dressing up at Chuck E Cheese, selling clothes at Eddie Bauer (which means learning to fold clothes), as well as waiting tables.
While internships look great on a college application, as well as on a resume. This is a great way to gain actual experience in the real world. With this said, a student has to have a strong desire to put his/her toe into the professional world. An internship should be explored if a student has a serious interest in a specific field of study. In order to find one of these coveted internships, head over to the counseling office with hopes of some connections; friends or family may assist, or just Google high school internships in your city.
The most important piece to a summer program, of course, is safety. How are students looked after, what is student/staff/faculty ratio, what are rules and regulations regarding curfew, are students allowed to ‘roam’ the cities in the evening? How do programs communicate with the family?
The difficult part these days is making choices. There are so many options out there that making the final decision might be the most difficult.
Start Sooner Than Later
It is wise to start early and have several choices in mind, as programs do fill up, and no one wishes to be disappointed. I have already started with several families on choosing their summer options based on their interests and what their future may hold. Bottom line, summer should be enjoyable.