In the next week or two if you have some time you might want to give some thought to what your son or daughter might be doing this summer. Not long ago I was talking with the parent of a student who participated in a summer program in Nepal, sponsored by the Girl Scouts. My first thought was what a wonderful, enriching experience this would be. The focus of the program was three-fold: learning the language and culture, working with Nepalese children at a day camp, and hiking and trekking with girls from all over the United States. As we talked, I was reminded of another student who volunteered to work at a childcare center for children whose families currently are without housing. On the surface these experiences seem to be primarily a generous use of a teenager’s time—a laudable endeavor. They are that; but they also are providing something more.
Parents of these and other students talk about how their children gained enormously from involvement in summer opportunities. Regardless of the location or the work there are common themes:
There are opportunities galore for students to engage in during the summer. There are academic camps and programs based at colleges and prep schools. (Although most of our students prefer a non-academic program after a year of academic rigor here.) There are specialized programs focused around possible career interests, the arts, or sports. Still others offer travel and/or community service projects. They may vary in length from a week to six weeks and some offer scholarships. Numerous local organizations are delighted to have high school students volunteer during the summer or during the school year.
Every year I read thoughtful and through-provoking college essays that focus on these often powerful and certainly memorable summer experiences. It is not surprising that many seniors choose the college essay topic: “Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, or risk that you have taken and its impact on you.”
For more information on summer options for students check the Upper School, your local bookstore for Summer Opportunities for Kids and Teenagers, published by Peterson’s, The 500 Best Ways to Spend Your Summer by Princeton Review or Summer Programs for High School Students by StudentsReview are some of the best comprehensive guides for this information.
Susan P. Staggers
Director of College Counseling