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Summer Opportunities for Teens

Attention students — summer is here!

Unless you were raised on a farm, summers probably bring to mind camp, sports teams, and long, lazy days hanging out with nothing to do but complain about being bored. Not bad, eh? But, at some point during adolescence, most people discover that they’ve outgrown camp, that teams only take up part of the day, and that summer (after the first week or so of luxuriating in unlimited sleep-time) looks like a long stretch of nothing much to do. So, what’s the alternative?

If you’re as smart as you look, you’ll probably find summer work (paid or unpaid) or other novel experiences that will help you grow as a person and increase your skills. Summer is a wonderful time-out from the hectic pace and pressures of school, a golden moment and a golden opportunity to try something new.

Challenge Yourself!

Summertime can be the time to break your own mold and take on a personal challenge, to find out what you’re made of physically, intellectually, artistically, or spiritually. Even if you have to ring up a cash register eight hours a day to afford your next year of college, you still have another eight hours each day (or more if you’re lucky enough not to need a lot of sleep) to pursue a personal goal.

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to: try out an outdoor survival program; go down a river on a raft; climb a really high mountain; learn some yoga; or go on a spiritual journey. Wouldn’t it be great to take up an instrument, try some voice lessons, join a community theatre group, or learn how to tap dance?

That all sounds terrific, you may say, but how do I begin this pursuit? Your hometown newspaper is a good place to start; articles and advertisements can help you find opportunities locally. The Internet can broaden your search and help you to find Outward Bound courses; adventure tours; opportunities in music, dance, and theatre; or spiritual retreat centers.

Last year at this time, Marilyn was looking at her fifth consecutive summer selling clothing at the mall. Although she enjoyed meeting with her friends after work and certainly liked the paycheck, she felt she was going nowhere. As a little kid, Marilyn had been in some musicals but she’d been “too chicken” to audition for the local outdoor theatre group. In the late spring, however, she got up the nerve and gave it a try.

That summer, Marilyn spent her days helping customers in the mall, but her evenings were happily occupied with rehearsals for the chorus of Anything Goes. This summer, she’s looking forward to another show and a larger part. Asked what it’s like, Marilyn replies, “I’m meeting new people and having a great time. Best of all, I found that working on stage is helping me conquer my fear of talking in class.”

Summer Opportunities for Teens

Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

Marie Hartwell-WalkerDr. Marie Hartwell-Walker is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. She writes regularly for Psych Central as well as Psych Central's Ask the Therapist feature. She is author of the insightful parenting e-book, Tending the Family Heart.

Check out her book, Unlocking the Secrets of Self-Esteem.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, M. (2020). Summer Opportunities for Teens. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 14 Jan 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 14 Jan 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.