Home / Guides  / Camp Guide  / Making the Most of Summer: Opportunities for Teens

Making the Most of Summer: Opportunities for Teens

Help your teen find an opportunity for enrichment this summer. These experiences can be positively life changing

For teenagers, summer is a much-anticipated time for friends, freedom, and fun. However, too much free time can lead to boredom — or worse. To help your teen make the most of summertime, seek out opportunities for enrichment, like camp counselor jobs, internships, employment with a local business, travel, and learning. In fact, summer break is the ideal time for young people to engage in experiences that foster growth, maturity, self-responsibility, communications skills, and positive relationships, while making memories that last a lifetime.

If you want to find an enriching summer experience for your teenager, start your research here. We’ve compiled a few different categories of summer opportunities for teens: camp counselor and CIT roles, summer jobs, travel groups, and other programs. Each option offers unique benefits for growth, while also providing structure, and plenty of summer fun!

Camp Counselor and CIT Opportunities

When you think of summer opportunities for teenagers, camp counselors are probably the first thing that comes to mind. Generations of teens have taken a leadership role at camp, guiding younger children through a daily schedule of games, swimming, sports, outdoor adventure, and more. For many, it’s the first time they’ve taken on a responsibility where they must develop skills in decision-making, problem-solving, planning, and communication. What’s more, being a counselor calls for teenagers to tap into their nurturing side, which is a wonderful attribute in a young person!

Counselors and campers at Pinemere Camp

Many teenagers find counselor jobs at the camps they attended as younger children. Camps often have a counselor-in-training (CIT) program for campers who reach a certain age, usually around 13. For example, Miss Betty’s Day Camp in Chester Springs, has a CIT program for 7th graders called Peace Corps. It a transitional role between camper and counselor, whereby young teens volunteer at camp and gain leadership skills, overseen by a counselor. Camp Garrett Williamson, a day camp in Newtown Square, has a Leaders in Training (LIT) program for teens between the ages of 13 and 15. For older teens (16+), Camp Garrett offers positions for junior and senior counselors, lifeguard, and program coordinators.

CIT programs may give preference to applicants who were previously campers there. However, camps will usually consider other young people who are hard workers and demonstrate an interest in working with children. After working as a CIT, teens can progress to junior counselor or head counselor. Again these roles may be filled by kids who came up through the ranks. But camps also extend opportunities to enthusiastic teens with a positive attitude.

Main Line Area Camps

Camps start accepting applications for CITs and counselors as early as February or March for the upcoming summer. Here are some camp options to consider in our area that have CIT and/or counselor options. Contact them directly for more information.

Work Opportunities


Wouldn’t it be great if your teen could spend the summer pursuing an interest that also rewards them with a distinguishing experience? Although many summer internships for teenagers are unpaid, they usually “pay” well in terms of unique experiences and personal enrichment. If your teen already has an interest in a particular field like science, the arts, the environment, or another field, an internship is a excellent way to delve deeper. A great example of this is the Penn Museum, which offers internships to high school, college, and graduate students interested in archaeology. Whether it’s an internship at a museum, an environmental organization, a technology company, or other institution, it’s one of those opportunities for growth that also looks great on a college application.

Summer interns at Penn Museum

Jobs at Local Small Businesses

If your teen wants a summer job opportunity, of course there are restaurants like Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s or retail outlets like Target and Walmart. But instead of working at corporate chain stores consider opportunities at independent, local businesses and organizations. These may offer teens unique work experiences and relationships within the community.

Country Clubs

Working at a country club offers a lot of perks for teenagers: employment, social connection, fun, and access to club amenities. According to Main Line Parent, Alison S., “all of the local country clubs are desperate for summer staff and hire at 16.” She mentions Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, which hires teens as camp counselors, life guards, as well as snack bar and wait staff. Golf clubs also often hire teen golf caddies, who can earn great tips helping out on the green.

Retirement Communities

Another unique summer opportunity for teens is working at a retirement community. Some common positions for young people at retirement communities include dining staff and activity assistants. For teens who have a nurturing personality, working with older folks can offer a profoundly rewarding experience. If this kind of work appeals to your teenager, reach out to a local retirement community to find out what positions may be available.

Travel Opportunities

Travel provides teens with new perspectives and fantastic opportunities for growth. In the Main Line area, Travel for Teens in Wayne strives to provide meaningful and authentic travel experiences for teens and young adults. You can explore their menu of 100+ trips by grade to find the perfect, age-appropriate travel experience for your child. And each trip is professionally staffed to ensure the safety and care of the group, which comprises 16–24 teen travelers. Destinations include Costa Rica, Hawaii, Alaska, Africa, many countries of Europe, Southwestern US, and more.

A trip to Arches National Park with Travel for Teens

Other Opportunities

Maybe your teen isn’t sure what they want to do this summer and could use some guidance? The Camp Experts & Teen Summers  is a free advisory service that helps families find the right summer camp, teen travel, language, or pre-college enrichment program for their children. According to Camp Experts & Teen Summers consultant, Jennifer Markizon, “There are lots of great options for teens. Depending on their interests, there are pre-college enrichment programs on college campuses, teen-only camps, and community service trips — both domestic and abroad.”

Lead photo courtesy of Travel for Teens.

Main Line Parent Writer & Calendar Editor. Email beth@familyfocus.org.