As the end of the school year approaches, parents begin to consider what to do with their children during the summer.

With younger kids, we tend to look for summer camps or programs that will interest and entertain them. With teenagers, we tend to leave them home alone or hope they can find summer jobs.

The idea of sleeping late and relaxing all day probably sounds great to most teens. But after a few weeks, that, too, will become boring. Besides, idle teens are more likely to get involved in harmful activities, especially when there is no supervision.

Now is the time to start planning the summer with your teen. The more involved teens are in structured activities, the less likely they are to get into trouble. There are numerous opportunities for teens to enjoy and learn this summer.

First, find out what your teen enjoys. Whether it’s sports, music, cars, computers or the arts, there is a summer programs that caters to your child’s interests. There are many sports leagues and AAU teams to keep your teen active.

If your child is old enough, consider him being a YMCA camp counselor, assisting younger kids with activities. Local colleges, organizations and churches provide summer programs for teens as well. They can take cooking classes, design computer games or enjoy the great outdoors.

These programs fill up fast, and some offer financial assistance, so apply early.

Summer is also the perfect time for community service, and numerous organizations are looking for teens. Not only does this help build relationships, it also looks good on scholarship and college applications.

Search for community service activities that your child will enjoy and encourage him to get involved. Most teens are not eager to volunteer, but once they get started it normally turns out to be a positive experience.

Some churches sponsor summer programs for youth to work in another state or country. This can be a great growing experience for teenagers to see a world outside of their own.

Summer is not the time to turn off academically. Once you have decided on some fun things to do, plan other things to keep your child academically tuned. There are academic and leadership camps to enhance skills and introduce teens to different professions. This experience will go a long way in helping your teen make decisions as they consider colleges and careers.

If you cannot find an affordable camp, consider creating your own summer activities. Set a timeline for finishing the activity and reward your teen when it’s completed.

For example, if your child likes computers, have her create a family webpage with articles and pictures.

Also, do not forget about reading. Most schools provide a summer reading list. Take a trip to the library or bookstore and have your child read a few books over the summer.

Obviously, if your child does not enjoy books, this may be challenging. An alternative is to have your child read magazines and discuss a topic over dinner or whenever the family is together.

Whatever you decide, make sure your teen gets involved and does something both fun and educational this summer.

Macie Caldwell, owner of Macie Caldwell Consulting Services (, offers information, tools and resources to parents, students and organizations to assist in preparing students early for college.

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