By Jennifer Halter
Summer break is always an exciting time for families. There’s no shortage of warm-weather activities to keep children entertained, such as local family concerts, library events, and hitting up the pool. But, as
the kids get older and move into the teen years, it can get more challenging for parents to find options to keep them busy during the day. Here are a few suggestions to help your teen make plans for an epic summer break.
Visit the Library
Our local libraries offer a wide array of events and programs specifically geared toward teens. There are
book clubs, craft times, and other specialized meetups, to name a few. There are computers available for use, as well as a teen gaming lounge (Montclair Library). Plus, let’s not forget checking out books and movies. The best part? All these activities and services are free!
In addition to that mentioned above, Prince William Public Libraries offers opportunities for teen volunteers to assist with their Summer Reading Program and other library services, both in-person and virtually. Volunteers between the ages of 13-18 are accepted. Contact your local branch to inquire about available positions.
Volunteering in the community is a rewarding experience and an ideal way to help your teen learn independence and responsibility while doing something good. Churches typically need volunteers to help with their summer programs, such as vacation Bible school. Assisted living and nursing homes welcome volunteers to visit with and read to residents or help with group activities. Parks need volunteers to help with clean-up efforts. Food pantries look for assistance with stocking shelves and distributing food. For a more extensive list of local volunteer opportunities, check out Volunteer Prince William
There’s no shortage of beautiful outdoor spaces in our area to explore, and summer is a great time to encourage your teen to spend more time soaking up the sun and breathing in fresh air. Plan a hike with friends. Join the world’s largest treasure hunt and take up geocaching. Enjoy a day along the sandy shoreline of the Potomac River. Organize a potluck picnic where friends can bring a favorite dish or snack to share. Feeling adventurous? Plan an overnight camping adventure with all the traditional activities such as making s’mores and telling stories.
Get a Summer Gig
Many teens are excited when they reach the age where they can get a summer job and start earning their own money. If they’ve never applied for a job before, this is a great opportunity to teach them important skills such as how to fill out an application and prepare for an interview. Some places that hire teens during the summer season include local pools and waterparks, summer camps, and stores and restaurants that are typically busier at this time of year. Babysitting and grass cutting are always great summer options, too.
Enjoy Indoor Entertainment
Whether it’s raining out or the heat becomes too much to handle, the summer fun doesn’t have to stop. Cool off at the ice-skating rink (check for open skate times before going). Jump over to the trampoline park with family or friends. There are often special discounted movies shown at theaters on certain days during the summer months as well. Recreation centers host open gym times and other sports-related programs, too.
Learn a New Skill
When school’s in session, the days are often filled with assignments, sports, or other responsibilities that may not provide extra time to allow your teen to learn something new and of interest to them. Summer is the perfect time to challenge your teen to pick up something new! Maybe they want to learn a new language or how to cook their favorite meal. Perhaps art is their thing, and they want to tackle drawing or painting techniques. The possibilities are endless! Check the library for books and videos on their topic of choice. There are also often online courses and resources available for low or no cost. Local art studios may offer special summer programming where they can let their creative side shine.
Plan a Road Trip
As our children grow older and get closer to graduation and leaving the nest, family vacations and time together are experiences that are more cherished and important than ever. Let your teen plan their ideal epic road trip to end their summer break. Give them a budget and set the parameters that work best for your family in terms of places you can go, and let your child develop an itinerary for the family. Staycations can be lots of fun, too!
Jennifer Halter is the Publisher of Macaroni Kid Woodbridge and Macaroni Kid Gainesville/Manassas,
free online calendars and resources to help you find your family fun all year round