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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, 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!

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.

  • Camp Half Blood, an immersive, adventure day camp in Wissahickon Park, Philadelphia
  • The Candy Lab, a candy and food craft workshop offering summer day camps in Ardmore
  • The Coliseum Sports Complex offers multi-sport day camps in Conshohocken
  • Murphy Music Center, founder, Crystal Murphy offers a playful and musical summer day camp in Downingtown
  • Music Theatre Philly offers musical camps at two Center City locations in Philadelphia
  • Penn Museum, home to more than a million extraordinary archaeological artifacts, offers teen summer internships and other opportunities in Philadelphia
  • Pinemere Camp, a Jewish overnight camp in Stroudsberg, PA
  • Snapology of King of Prussia offers a summer day camp focused on STEM learning and play with LEGO bricks
  • Tredyffrin Library runs a Performance Arts Summer Camp that emphasizes community and ensemble to cultivate performance arts skills and confidence
  • Wayne Art Center offers an art-focused summer day camp in Wayne

Work Opportunities

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 is seeking 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. For teens who have a nurturing personality, working with seniors can offer a profoundly rewarding experience.

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.

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.

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