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Keeping Teens Active During a ‘Jobless Summer’

With the economy in the shape it's in, teens are in the position of having to compete with over-qualified adults for the same summer jobs.While this is disappointing news for all involved, it's no excuse for your teen to just hang around the TV or spend the day only playing video games this summer.

Parents, here are some great, productive activities your teen can choose from...

  • Volunteer as a camp counselor. Couldn't get a paying job as a camp counselor this summer? Your teen can build his resume by volunteering to help out on a variety of levels at community day camps such as ones churches or the local YMCA run. Call the director of the camp to set up an interview. Ask if any special requirements are needed (i.e.: fingerprints).
  • Your teen has many skills. Make up a flier of small jobs your teen is capable of and deliver it to neighbors. Running errands, yard cleanup, mowing lawns, washing cars, dog walking, cat sitting, picking up mail for vacationing neighbors - even (or should I say especially) computer help - are all possible jobs your teen can perform around the neighborhood.
  • Enroll your teen in your local Red Cross babysitting training. Your teen will then be trained to start a babysitting service of his or her own. Even if your teen runs the service for just a few hours each week - well, as any parent knows, a few hours to run to the grocery store (alone) or escape for a cup of java (alone) can be a real blessing if there are little ones at home being cared for by a well-trained teen.
  • Is your teen a student athlete? Perhaps she can organize a small "camp" to teach younger children the finer points of a variety of sports. Organizing a camp such as this one can mean so much especially to children who may not be able to afford this kind of fun this summer otherwise.
  • Put social networking skills to use to start a home-based business. For instance, if your teen enjoys graphic design, he or she can try to volunteer these services for a local nonprofit that may need Web site or other help with graphics. From there, your child can build a resume and portfolio to try to get paying jobs later on. Many a young entrepreneur started full-fledged businesses following just this model.
  • The summer is a great time to learn new skills. Perhaps art lessons have always been something your child would like to enroll in, but between schoolwork and other activities during the school year, there has been no time. Money in short supply for luxuries such as outside lessons? Perhaps your child can trade his time in simple tasks (vacuum and dust the art studio?) for the lessons.
  • Get a head start on the upcoming school year by learning the basics of subjects he or she will be taking next semester once school starts again in the fall. Confer with teachers or guidance counselors to learn which books and Web sites are good to preview. What opportunities does summer school offer your child?
  • Read. Whether reading to get ahead in schoolwork or just for fun, reading something pleasurable is one of the best ways to pass lazy summer days.

Parenting tip from the trenches:

Keep your teen involved. Balance skill building, volunteer work, getting a jump on next year's schoolwork with downtime. Stay on top of your teens' changing interests so you can help them determine the best use of their time this summer.

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