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Understanding Generation Z: How to Decode Your Teenager

Today’s teens need different things from their parents — and their activities. The CEO of Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs has some advice for decoding these kids.

Stretching back decades, parents and kids have regarded one another as alien beings. But today’s teens — Generation Z — really are dramatically different, according to Steve Robertson, CEO of Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs. 

“They’re growing up in a world that’s never existed before,” he said. “This is the first generation we’ve ever seen that is being mentored entirely by their peers around the world and not by the generation that came before them.”

“It’s really exciting — and really scary, because the mentoring and the guidance that previous generations have offered is no longer there.”

Generation Z (roughly defined as those born from the mid-1990s through the mid-2010s) is different from the Millennial cohort. They grew up with uncertainty and upheaval, from the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath.

As a result, they’re cautious, with a mindset that’s more like your grandparents’ than your own.

They’re the smartphone generation, always ready with an Instagram update. But they’ve also turned inward, Robertson said, skipping getting driver’s licenses or going out to the high school beer bash.

While that might make parents feel safer because their kids are at home, Robertson said, all that isolation can be dangerous.

“This is the loneliest and most depressed generation, with the highest suicide rate we’ve ever seen,” he said. “Parents are not yet aware how to bridge that gap.”

So, what can parents do? Robertson’s advice: understand that Gen Z kids are creative self-starters who crave experiences to help them find what they’re most interested in.

“Once they get past that first experience and find something they’re passionate about, they really will dive deep,” he said. “They don’t need the dad or the mom or the teacher or the professors to tell them what to do, because while you’re talking, they’re already online to find out if what you’re saying is true.”

Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs (JKCP), which operates on universities around the greater Philadelphia region including University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University, and Haverford College and their newest location Yale University, in New Haven, CT is re-engineering their 25+ summer programs to be more collaborative and meet Gen Z where they are. We try to help parents to “look under the hood” and do the same thing, Robertson said.

“Parents need to download the latest update on parenting, we call it Parenting 2.0” he said. “They really need to understand who these kids are, and how they tick, in order to be impactful and intentional in raising them up.”

“Deliberate parenting done right with some of this understanding brings about fantastic results in this creative, entrepreneurial generation, it can make all the difference.”

What’s happening now at Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs?

The 2019 camp season begins June 10. Still looking for a camp for this summer? Try one of these exciting programs!

NEW Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Summer Program in Pediatric Medicine (CHOP):  This program is ideal for high school juniors and seniors interested in careers in pediatric medicine and a solid first step into pre-med education and careers for those students interested in the unique medical needs of babies, children and adolescents. During this two week summer program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, students will use premier training simulators and equipment, gain broad exposure to the basics of medical training. Practice placing IVs, suturing, drawing blood and CPR using state-of-the-art training and simulation tools. There is particular emphasis on the care of pediatric patients, including an introduction to the pediatric exam and lectures from world-renowned pediatric subspecialists.

Through this experience, you will have the opportunity to learn from highly accredited CHOP faculty in the Pediatric Department ranked best in the U.S. for the 7th consecutive year by U.S. News & World Report.

NEW Sports Broadcasting Career Camp by PlaybyPlay & JKCP: Want to learn what it takes to make it as an on-air professional sports broadcaster? Well, look no further. Play by Play has teamed up with JKCP to create a two-week immersive pre-college experience designed to shape the next generation of successful sports broadcasters. This program gives students the rare opportunity to build their resume, train with top professional sportscasters, and take their next step toward a career in radio and television.

NEW UK Elite Soccer Camp at JKCP: UK Elite & JKCP are proud to announce a brand NEW Residential Soccer program for Summer 2019. UK Elite is the nation’s leading youth soccer program and, since its inception, over 65,000 players have participated in the Total Soccer Experience. This one-week soccer camp is the perfect opportunity for players to enjoy a 24/7 soccer lifestyle and prepare for their fall season.

Esports NEW ½ Day Option: The demand for our popular Esports Camp, powered by N3rd St Gamers, has been so overwhelming it is now being offered as a ½ day course in our Xploration at Haverford (ages 10-13) and Enrichment at Villanova (ages 14-18) Summer Programs.   

Enrichment at Villanova University: Enrichment at Villanova University (ages 14-18) is a favorite for students who want to try a few different things. It is perfect for the athlete who loves to 3D printing, the gamer who plays guitar in a band and the writer who also wants to run their own business – a Social Media Influencer Blog. Create your perfect summer by choosing a morning and afternoon course from 30+ choices across subjects spanning the arts, sciences, fashion, fitness, engineering and so much more. There are more than 500 course combinations to try!

Xploration at Haverford College: Do you like to experiment and try things firsthand? Then JKCP Xploration (ages 10-13) is for you. With dozens of courses to choose from in fields like; science, fashion, art, soccer, robotics, coding, cooking, DJ and more the combinations are almost endless! You can be the architect of your own summer and find what you’re passionate about.  

Plus, click here to learn more about JKCP’s cooking programs!

Call 610-265-9401, or visit JKCP online for more information.

Photographs courtesy of Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs. 


Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs redefines what a summer should be. Summer should be about doing something you love, meeting people from all over the world, preparing for college or your future career or experiencing something new. We make summer better by creating experiences people love.

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