Activities for Teens During Summer & School Breaks

Parent Q&A

Community Service Summer Camps for 12YO? Aug 29, 2017 (4 responses below)
Teen Non Video Game Centered Activities Sought May 6, 2017 (3 responses below)
summer activities for 13yo Jan 30, 2017 (1 responses below)
Winter break ideas for injured teen Dec 13, 2016 (2 responses below)
  • Community Service Summer Camps for 12YO?

    (4 replies)

    My son has been attending fun-filled summer camps every year for his whole childhood. He is 12 now and I'm starting to think this is no longer a good thing. He is developing a sense of entitlement about every summer and every school break—as if it is meant to be all about him at all times.

    He also doesn't believe me when I tell him not all kids get to go to camp, that many kids live in apartments or homeless shelters instead of houses, that lots of families go to the laundromat because they don't have washers and dryers where they live, etc., etc. As my words were having no impact, I had him watch a documentary about poverty in America. He said it was sad but nobody he knows in Berkeley lives like that so he should still get to do all the fabulous things that all the wealthy Berkeley families do. 

    Mind you, we don't live like a super wealthy family. We drive an old used car, have never had a video game player, we have not given him an iPhone or a tablet, we have not taken him on any vacations out of the country or to expensive resorts, his life is not filled with material stuff in any sense. But maybe we have made the mistake of believing it is our job to ensure all of his days are filled with fun activities. It makes me sad that he doesn't see his life as one filled with good-fortune, but instead as something his parents are "supposed" to give to him. 

    I would like to change this by helping him to discover the joy of contributing to others instead of just the joy of his own entertainment.  I'm going to sign us up to volunteer at a shelter on the weekends, but I really also want to find a sleepaway summer camp that is about helping others. And not the kind of "helping" that flies kids off to Puerto Rico or Barcelona for an exciting adventure in the guise of a "volunteer opportunity," which seems to be the only thing I can find online. 

    Would love to hear if any of you have found something like this. 

    I think volunteering to "help others" is not going to change his perspective all that much, as opposed to being immersed in a more diverse peer environment at or outside of school. Does he go to public school? What about going to a free summer program such as Aim High? If this is not possible a simple change would be to be a CIT rather than a camper, and have some responsibility for younger kids. At a public summer day camp rather than at an expensive sleepaway camp.

    I hear you on kids feeling like they are entitled. That's something that we battle in our family as well. I don't have an option that directly fits your ask about summer camp, but I did want to share that my kids, both now teens, have been attending a backpacking & nature-focused camp called Camp Woolman. I like that it's a down-to-earth, rustic place where kids are expected to pitch in and help. Although it's camp and mainly about fun, the kids still have to do rotation on dish duty and other chores. There are lots of kids from a wide-range of socio-economic backgrounds and alternative family structures. My kids have been exposed to many people that they wouldn't have otherwise met (we live in Lamorinda). While at camp, they spend time hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail, and being in nature and away from technology is a wonderful thing! Good luck with your search.

    Having been through something similar with my tween daughter, I have some slightly alternate suggestions based on my own experience. I think the thing for me is not just that kids need to understand their social privilege, it's also about gaining independence by taking action and being self-sufficient - going beyond "Mom and Dad take care of everything for me". To that end, one thing that has made a big difference is Scouts. I know it's not that politically popular here, but in addition to the  community service orientation, scouting encourages kids to make their own group decisions as a troop and also their activities - such as camping - require everyone to pitch in. I have seen tremendous growth in my child in terms of being proactive and thinking of others.

    Also, my child loves animals, and so we have collectively gotten involved with volunteering with an animal-related charity. It's not about helping needy people, but I see the empathy kick in about someone outside herself. Remember that your 12-year-old is at an age where he doesn't look so kindly on being forced to do things by mom and dad... it's all about him beginning to take ownership. Hope that helps. 

  • Greetings,

    I am new to the network and am looking for fun, especially outdoor activities, my 15 year old stepson can participate in for the summer while he is here. He lives out of state and will be visiting for a month.

    In the home he lives in most of the year, he is glued to video games, even on the weekends.

    During his visit, when his dad and I are not working, we'll be camping, dirt biking, and swimming. We love the outdoors and our teen does, too, when given the opportunity. We want to ensure that our teen has some great activities to do during the week, especially since he will be fasting from video games.

    Your stepson is old for many day camps, but Cal Adventures offers camps focusing on activities like sailing, sea kayaking, and rock climbing that include teens.  We used to sign my visiting nephews up for these, and they enjoyed them.  I think Cal also has Archery camps for teens.  Alternately, maybe he could be a junior counselor at an outdoor camp like Sarah Science.

    Hi,  we haven't done camps in some years but when my son was that age, he enjoyed the week-long Cal Camps that played basketball, I believe, but there are different sports available.   He also did a tennis camp.  I think that you can find information about these in the archives.  For a different side of the brain, we also did BandWorks, a school of rock and roll which is in Oakland which caters to complete beginners and up.   It's a lot of fun.     I am sure that there are now rock-climbing camps in Berkeley as well if that interests him.   These camps are not inexpensive, however.   I'd also look into the Y for summer activities.  good luck! 

    My advice is for the parents to put the boy's computer in the living room and remove all schoolday/night access he has to phones and video game consoles.

    Teens resist when there are limitations placed on there video game playing, but eventually, these limits benefit everyone.  The teen most of all!

  • summer activities for 13yo

    (1 reply)

    I have a 13yo boy and am beginning to think about the summer.  If you have/had a young teen, what activities did they do during the long break?  He has tried CIT type of things and will probably do them again, but not every week.  In the past, he's had some weeks of nothing planned, but again don't want that every week.  He is still interested in some camps for older kids (through Cal, The Crucible mainly), but it seems there are not many.  He's too young to get a job, isn't he?  I should also say that transportation (for some half-day/middle-of-the-day activities) would be an issue some of the days as both parents work.  I'd love to hear ideas.

    RE: summer activities for 13yo ()

    When my son was 13, he loved Abantey, Roleplay Workshop, on Piedmont Ave. it was all day playing a Roleplay game that Becky, the owner and a former teacher, developed. It taught the kids logic, cooperation, math,... they spent time outside playing as well. It was one of the best activities we found for him. 

    The other activity he liked was Camp Galileo Summer Quest. Again all day.

  • We are looking into summer options for our daughter, who will be 16 years old in June. She found what looked like a great program in NYC to learn about journalism, but it was close to $5k for 2 weeks, plus airfare and lodging. There are a lot of web sites out there, but how to know they are legitimate and of good quality? She's open to traveling and learning- other options she discovered include Poland, Costa Rica, and France (she is studying French). She did see something that is on the BPN site from 2011, but the link doesn't go to a live website. While we'd love to go somewhere with her, we both work and can't afford much time off...anyone have recommendations for good programs for a teen - either fun, local learning programs or something that involves travel? Thanks in advance!

    My parents found a wonderfully engaging summer option for me at 16-17-18. It was called "work." I was a camp counselor, I interned at a friends business and I also worked at a newspaper immediately after high school. It didn't cost my family anything and most of what I earned went towards college costs. 

    I can't comment on any academic programs, but our family has had a fabulous experience with a hiking-based summer camp program. The Teen Leadership Camp at Camp Woolman, in Nevada City, is a program for 15 and 16-year-olds and the teens spend 8-10 days hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail (the rest of the two weeks are spent in camp, and the teens have their building separate from the rest of the camp). Their program is reasonably priced, and our children have gained a lot of confidence and learned new skills being out on the trails. The camp focuses on values such as justice and sustainability. Their website is: http://camp.woolman.org/teen-leadership

    how about ... a job? 

  • Winter break ideas for injured teen

    (2 replies)

    Our 14 year old daughter fractured her wrist last week, and is now sidelined from her beloved sports team, and had to cancel plans to ski over the upcoming break. She is devastated. It's her right arm, so she is having trouble writing , typing and drawing. 

    Does anyone have suggestions for activities over break for a kid in this predicament? 

    We are on a tight budget, too, Which adds to the challenge.

    thanks for any ideas.

    When my daughter broke her leg in middle school, the first day of spring break, she had a great time having friends over to play old fashioned board games. Her friends really stepped up (no pun intended) to make time to come over and hang out.

    Hi, I can appreciate your need for fun and free or inexpensive things to do for your daughter.

    At the Berkeley Public Library, we have some fun activities this winter break that might help give your teen some cool things to do. On Tuesdays there is Anime Club 4-5pm @South Branch. they watch great anime videos and have refreshments. Our Crafts programs, Teens Make Some Thing, are on Tuesday the 20th 4:30-5:30 @West Branch and Wednesdays (21st and 28th) 2:30-3:30 @North. Our Teens Game On! programs, where we play video and board games, are Wednesdays 2-5pm @Claremont Branch and Thursdays 3:30-5 @North Branch.

    Some other programs that might be fun: on Tuesday the 20th is a free Yoga class @Claremont Branch 7-7:45pm (I am sure the instructor can offer alternate poses to accommodate your daughter's injury). Friday, December 23rd is Super Cinema where they are screening "It's a Wonderful Life" 3-5pm @Central. It's part of the "Characters You Want in Your Corner" theme for December. 

    Everything is free and open to the public, teen events are for people in 6th grade through age 19. :) We also can just be a cool place to hang out with free wifi, a plethora of books and magazines to peruse, and more. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, I'll be here these two weeks. :)