>> Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Lola asked: It's summer break. What on earth is there to do that's free or really cheap for teens to keep them out of trouble? I did find http://www.kidsbowlfree.com/ and signed up both my kids, but they are going to get tired of bowling. We can't afford a sleepaway camp (but gosh we would love to have a break!) We will be signing them up for some short golf camps, but it's kind of hard due to their ages. My daughter is 16, so she has aged out of most programs, but she can't sign up for adult programs. Due to her illness, a part time job is out of the question right now. Is there anything else you can think of that is free or cheap?
The question, of course, is fabulous not just because many people need to know, but because I need to know myself. I don't, of course, though I've been trying to think of some ideas. The government has some suggestions (some of which sound good).
Dept of Health and Human Services Teenager Summer Activities
In fact, I had been thinking about the volunteer notion (not the mentor thing, though that's a cool idea). A job may not be an option, but responsibility and accomplishing something can often be very fulfilling. Volunteering at a local nursing home can be a great way to bring some happiness to people and to open up that me-me-me attitude many teenagers have. Ditto for similar activities at homeless shelters or Habitat for Humanity. Or perhaps volunteering at local animal shelter would be good, as exposure to animals can be good for one's mental health (and having someone to walk dogs or clean cat cages could be helpful). It also looks really good on college applications.
Another possibility that's low on cost, high on time and can be fun for everyone is to get involved as a coach for a local little sports league. Believe me, I have no experience and they took me, so expertise is not required.
But, as much as all of this can be good for kids, use their time constructively and look good on their records, convincing them to do it might be challenging. So, what else?
Well, I stink as an example. I was a serious bookworm and would happily read all summer long. And libraries are free. I'm also a movie-a-holic. If you have netflix, it's a pretty inexpensive way to be entertained, though it will hardly fill all summer long. My husband was HUGE into video games when he was a teen, which have a big outlay but can be cost effective if you already have a setup or two. Let me know if you need suggestions.
However, there's something to be said for picking some more active, uh, activities. Perhaps they can get involved with geocaching in the area, a local pool or YMCA/YWCA. Gardening can be active and engrossing if you have a thing for it. Museums and zoos can provide education, exercise and be cost effective if you get a season pass. Depends on your area.
Or perhaps some activities like involvement in art classes, community theater, local glee clubs and the like. Often they have inexpensive options or packages. Check your local paper for summer programs; there are often many of them. Check the website of your local school district; they might have more options.
Given that I think this is, overall, a pretty pathetic answer, I encourage any readers with some ideas to bring them forward. Many of us with children face these questions every year and, if we aren't now, we will when our kids get older. I'm sure Lola would welcome any other suggestions you might have.