14 y/o Boy Needs Summer SOMETHING

We've encouraged our DS to participate in things for years, sports, camps, scouts, and he's done them all, but begrudgingly. He does regular community service with a city organization during the school year, and understands the importance of volunteering.

The problem is, he's just not a joiner at all. He's bright, funny and likeable, he has a few good friends, but is otherwise not super outgoing. He doesn't like groups, teams or any kind of activity that requires him to be in one. (He's loving distance learning!) It's just his personality, his sibling is the complete opposite with lists pages long of things to do and always coming and going from one thing to another.

I am at a loss for something for him to do this summer. Since he won't do camps, I'd like him to do volunteer work that does not involve kids (annoying to him lol) or cleaning stuff (he's a bit of a germaphobe so things like animal shelter work would not be ideal). Oh, also NOT an 'outdoorsy' type. Things he is good at/interested in: helping people, computers, gaming, animals, economics. Is there somewhere he might be able to use these skills? Someone who needs project help? He will be on schedule to be fully vaccinated the second they open appointments for 14 year-olds.

I'm hoping someone might have an idea, or a need, or even just sympathy about trying to parent this type of kid (yours too?) and hope that it will be ok. I don't want him to just sit around all summer and he knows it. I'm really trying to find something that will make a difference for him, spark his interest and be of benefit for all involved. 

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My soon to be 14 year old daughter fits your description perfectly.  I have decided to stop fighting it.  She’s cut from a different cloth than me and my other child and I have realized I just need to be ok with it and also confident she’ll find her own path eventually. Feel free to reach out if you want to talk more. 

My 15 year old son is exactly the same.  He is completely disinterested in any organized activity (always has been) and also did really well with distance learning.  Since his grades are pretty good, he does have a few friends, and he's generally pretty pleasant at home, I'm trying not to worry about it.  I assume that eventually he will spark an interest in something.  He does want to get a job, but most places don't hire until at least 16 and that's a year off.  After your son grows up he will never again get to have a lazy summer with zero responsibilities, so may as well let him have it now if that's what he really wants. I know it's hard to step back though.     

Hi there. I also have a 14-year-old (girl) who, similarly, has been happy with distance learning, doesn't need a lot of socializing and is bright, funny, wonderful. I am reading the book by Susan Cain: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. I think I'm realizing that some of my expectations are cultural and Cain's idea that we live in a particularly extroverted country and time are helpful for me accepting that my child is different from me and from others her age. On another note, you might consider setting an expectation that he needs to do some activity this summer outside the home -- an activity, job or volunteering, as you point out above -- but it is his choice and responsibility to go and find it. Otherwise you will chose. Just an idea. Good luck! 


Your son could try starting his own business for the summer selling t-shirts with his own designs by using Printify.com or another similar company  https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/printful-vs-printify .  He would learn how to set up a business and how to market it.  Even if he does not make money at this he could learn a lot from the experience.    You could also set him up to shadow someone experienced in something he is interested in such as computer repair, tutoring, etc. so that he learns about a career or job.  Another option is for him to learn a computer programming language by taking a class online. 

I have several excellent suggestions to try.  I’m a college instructor and parents ask me this question all the time. Does your son have a computer and access to the Internet? 
Option one - Does he like building things?  Look at Arduino, he's the perfect age.  You can buy him a starter Arduino kit on Amazon for $30 to get him started.
Option two - Does he like solving puzzles?  Get him involved in cybersecurity competitions.  You could start with Hacker-High school.  If he gets good at it, he can earn a partial or a full college scholarship.  If he really gets into it, offer to take him to Defcon in Las Vegas this summer or buy him an online pass.  Defcon has many age appropriate activities and will be well chaperoned if you want to have some Vegas fun during the day.
Option three – Does he have any interest in sports?  Get him into online gaining. If he practices and becomes a good athlete, he could make some or a lot of money and get a full or partial college scholarship.  It he really excels he could get recruited by one of the professional esports teams.
Option four – Get him involved in a community open source project.  This is an excellent way for him to feel good solving a societal need while learning how to code.  I would strongly suggest he get involved in a project where he is using Python.

With any of these activities your son will make new friends and connect with others around the world.  Your son is so lucky to live in the Bay Area as there are many meet-up groups where he can connect with other kids with similar interests.  If you son is interested in any of these, I would love to get him into one of my college classes.  From your description of him he would excel.

There is an organization called Ashby Village in Berkeley that uses volunteers to help seniors. They often need people who can help with technology and have lots of other opportunities. I am not sure what the volunteer program is like with COVID but you should check out their website. I volunteered there for years and it is a wonderful program.