Teen's Resistance to Summer Camp

Parent Q&A

  • Yikes! Our 14 year old hates summer camp

    (4 replies)

    Last year, our son attended a month long sleep away camp. This year, he asked that we send him there again and do we did. Within 3 days, he was pleading to come home.  Then, he was angry and abusive over the phone when we refused.  This camp is very expensive, he asked to attend and there was no possible refund, plus we don't want a restless teen on our hands for a month (we both work.)  We've spoken to his counselors and the issue appears to be one of social integration...he tends to take offense easily and doesn't seem to get the teen insult culture.  Our concern is his return in 2 weeks...are we in for hell?  How do we handle this?  

    Also, any recommendations for other discussion boards on teen issues.  We simply don't know how to react to this stranger who kidnapped our son.

    Sounds like a male version of the movie Mean Girls or a variation of the Stanford prisoner experiment.  You know your son best.  From what you have written It sounds like this is not a case of being home-sick.  I’m surprised the camp and counselors are allowing this to happen.  Sounds to me like the counselors are allowing your son to be a victim. That’s not right.  Doesn’t’ matter if your son takes sensitive or not.  Isn’t it the role of the camp and counselors to socially integrate the campers and lay down some social educate rules?  And I’m sure your son isn’t the only camper who is sensitive.   

    It sounds like the reason your son was abusive is because he feels he’s being treated unfairly and the counselors, the people who should be helping him, aren’t.  Be glad he’s venting at you and not one of the campers… don't take it personally.

    Things might get better for him in a few days or a week or they could get much worse.  I think it all depends on the camp’s management attitude towards this type of behavior.

    I would contact the management of the camp and ask them what the camp’s policy is about campers not respecting each other and insults?  If it sounds like they are blowing you off I would bring your son home and demand a full refund.  If they have a policy and you think they will enforce it without victimizing your son even more tell your son to give it a few more days.  If things don’t improve bring him home and forget the money.
    I have seen similar situations as you have described an in three instances where the camp management took action and it had a happy outcome.  But there was one case where the camp management did nothing and thing just got worse.

    See what others have to say.  If your son is having a bad time it’s something he’ll probably remember it for the rest of his life. 

    Good luck.

    If he is asking you to come home and you are not listening, how will he know he can ask you harder questions later and you will listen to him? He is just beginning his teenage years and will have harder situations later in teenhood where he will need a parent/mentor/shoulder to cry on or ask for support. What is more important to you? Two more weeks without a teen? or knowing you have a teenager that feels he is listened to and can come to you for help later down the line? Maybe a compromise- at the halfway point( 2 weeks) if things still aren't going well, counselors have been contacted, methods tried and he is still miserable ask him what he wants to do and listen to hiim. 

    I just picked my son up early from a 2-week camp, for different reasons, but none-the-less critical to his well-being.  Set aside your needs and financial issues for the moment.  What's best for your son now and long-term?  As you've already spoken with the counselors, contact camp management.  Will they allow you to visit your son and meet with counselors and management to put together a plan to address the problem?

    If the problems cannot be addressed to his, and your, satisfaction, consider bringing him home.  It may be a pain for you, and you'll need to figure out an alternative approach to the summer, but it sounds like this could have far-reaching implications. You might consider interviewing therapists so you have one selected for him to see when he does return home, whether early or not.  It sounds like your son is hurting and doesn't know what to do.

    My son was angry in reaching out to me.  We then received a series of alarming and concerning letters from him - wrote over several days, but received all at once.  The letters were highly out of character.  I immediately made arrangements to pick him up.  It was the best thing I could have done.  He said he could have finished out the camp, but would have been very angry.  He was surprised and appreciative that I picked him up.  It's gone a long way to making good on a situation that was bad/damaging for him.  We are following up with therapy.  It's hard to be a teen these days.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


11 year old boy not interested in sleepaway camp

April 2014

Some of my best memories growing up were at sleepaway camp. I've been putting feelers out to my 11 year old for a few years now, and he is completely uninterested in going. I haven't pushed it, because I just figured it's not his thing. He doesn't like sleeping away from home and will occasionally tolerate the random overnight at a friend's, but that's it. Should I give him more of a nudge? He is worried that he won't sleep well, and he is very modest and doesn't like the idea of changing in front of other kids. I suspect both these issues will disappear on day 1 of camp and he will have a great time. I enjoy having him around in the summer, and he goes to day camp for two weeks or so, but there's definitely too much screen time and whining. I don't want him to let his anxieties limit him at such a young age (or ever). On the other hand, there are so many amazing things to do here in the Bay Area, we can have a pretty great and busy summer if I get myself organized a little bit. Any suggestions? First world problem

Is there a middle-ground you can seek? Perhaps you can find a week-long camp that offers a one-night sleepover? You can also talk to him about ways to preserve his modesty, which I can certainly appreciate. He wouldn't be the only kid getting dressed in a bathroom stall or in his sleeping bag, I'll bet.

Also, can you sign him up for more camps this summer, to cut down on the screen time and whining? Your town or adjacent town's rec and park department probably have low-cost camps. Ours run ab out $100 for a five-day week from 7:30-3. You could try that for this summer and revisit sleepaway camp next year.

I was like you - LOVED camp and thought my son would for sure get into once he got there. Well, he went and it was just OK. I am not spending that kind of money for ''just OK.'' So the next summer he stayed home and took a computer programming class and loved it. My second son LOVES camp and is going back for this third year. Perhaps you can have him go to a weekend camp to test it? Or maybe a family camp like Lair of the Bear? With a friend is even better. But, sometimes we just have to honor our kids for who they are. anon

Hi! I felt the same way - going to sleepaway camp really helped me form my own identity. I wasn't my mother's daughter, my brother's sister, I was me! You might start with a Family Camp program. That's what I did with my boys. We did one at Camp Campbell in the Santa Cruz mountains that is lots of fun, we did Camp Jones Gulch as well. I work at the Y, so those are Y camps, but I'm sure there are lots of other options as well. Most of these, though, don't require Y membership or anything. Hope it works out! Eden

We had exactly the same problem with our anxious 11 year old. What we did was:

1) search out the most solid, caring Camp Directors we could find, i.e. those we thought most skilled and experienced at creating a warm and inclusive camp community (and who have a no-electronics policy). These Directors were John Chakan and Kelly Marston; they have been full-time professional summer sleep-away camp directors for 15 years or more. (They also have 3 children of their own) I did a few months of volunteer work for them to get to know them ahead of time and make sure that I trusted them with my children. I do,and after 5 years of summer camp with them, still have no reservations.! John and Kelly now run Camp JaK ( 8-16 year olds). My three kids have been with them for 5 Summers and rave about it the rest of every year.

2) made arrangements with John and Kelly for my highly anxious kid to have the option of coming home after a few days if she really wanted to. At the end of 3 days she had no interest in coming home and stayed happily for almost 4 weeks. The following Summer she begged to go to multiple sessions and went for almost 8 weeks!

Note: While John and Kelly were the Directors at Plantation Farm Camp for over a dozen years, this Summer they they have started their own camp . Since I believe that the leadership at a camp is the primary factor in the quality of children's experience, my kids are moving to the new Camp JaK with these wonderful [Berkeley-based] directors. Part of what I so admire about their mission as life-long summer camp leaders is their ability to simultaneously love kids unconditionally, while setting fair firm and consistent limits. I also have great respect for the values they bring to camp life - kindness, inclusivity, responsibility for community , the farm animals. and the environment\xc3\xa2\xe2\x82\xac\xc2\xa6 And the food is great! Wishing you all the best, Andrea

My son could have gone to sleep-away camp like some of his friends but he never wanted to do so. So we signed him up for various day camps in the area. At age 16, he was a CIT with some friends of his at a family camp and had a great month. After high school, he traveled abroad on a program and stayed for almost a year. My point is that there's no reason to push your son to do something he doesn't want to do. He may change later and he may not. It is not something to worry about. Enjoy him while you can

Whether to push 14 year old to go to sleepover camp

March 2012

I'd love advice on whether to send our foster son to sleepover camp even if he doesn't want to go.

Eighteen months ago, we became foster parents to a teenaged boy we already knew. He came directly to us from his bio parents' house and we expect to be his permanent parents. He has PTSD, grief and depression. His daily behavior was highly anxious and suspicious when he first came to us. He is now 14.5 years old.

With a lot of support, patience and good therapy, he has improved quite a bit. He still has a long way to go. Last summer was really difficult--the large blocks of unstructured time made him very anxious and depressed. At that point, when he was having nightmares and was afraid of all strangers, sleepover camp was impossible and we resisted social services pressure to send him. We enrolled him in some day camps, but several were cancelled. He has no skills for entertaining himself if he doesn't have something electronic to do. He struggles with reading, and his social skills are poor. He has very few friends and clearly doesn't understand how to be a friend yet. He is very agile and enjoys ping pong and tennis, but those require a buddy. We will get him in some camps this summer, but the hours will once again stretch for him (and us).

As a foster youth, he could attend Camp Mendocino. And I can also get him into YMCA's Camp Jones Gulch, where my adult daughter works. He doesn't want to do either. He has no experience with sleepover camps and withdraws in social settings, although I'm told he does okay socially while at school.

Does anyone have experience with requiring a reluctant teen to go to camp? Our hope would be that the extended, close time with other kids in a supportive environment would build social skills, morale, and self-esteem--and that he might have fun. Our fear is that he will feel alone and scared. He's going to be aging out of camps soon, so this might be the last summer he could do it. I will be discussing this with his psychologist, but wanted a parent perspective too. want our boy to enjoy himself for a change

Your intentions are good, but why push this issue of sleepover camp? Let him build his relationship with you as a family, heal, retreat from the world a bit if that's what he needs to heal and don't make a big deal over sleepover camp. Of course you want it to be great for him, but how great can it be given his current emotional mind set? Not very is my guess, and he's likely to be resentful of you for sending him. Good luck. anon

I can't answer your question from a parent's perspective, but I can from a Camp Director's perspective (as well as past counselor, unit leader, and activity director). It sounds like camp could be a great experience for your son! Sleep over camp provides bonding experiences between children and helps them work on their social skills and developing their personality traits. It also lets him be someone else for the time he is at camp. If possible I would love for a camp that offers a chance for the camp experience before he's there without you. Look for a camp where you can do family camp for a weekend before you send him for sleep away, or where you can do a site visit with him. If you can show him where it is, what the cabins are like, and how the dinning hall works that may help him easy into the situation. I would also recommend talking to different camp directors. They can not only help prep his counselor to make sure it is a positive experience, but some camps have on-site therapists which might be a good choice for your son. I have personally worked with campers who were suicidal, cutters, dealing with their sexual identify, and been abused - most of these campers had a very positive experience. Some I am even still in contact with (10+ years later) and they say that one week of sleep away camp changed their lives. Camp can help with so many problems. I wish your family luck and I hope you are able to do what is best for your foster son.


As a parent and as someone who has worked with foster teens, definitely not. While you seem to have the best of intentions for sending him, he will think you are trying to get rid of him.

There are so many great day camps--most will give scholarships for foster teens. It will be a bit of work to get them all set up, but you should be able to fill up his whole summer. Some have one overnight in a week or two week session--encourage him to try that out but don't push. If you find gaps that you can't fill with day camp, say he has to spend 30/hrs week volunteering. www.volunteereastbay.org is a good place to look or try your local library or perhaps he can volunteer in a camp for younger kids. best wishes

Our daughter has an anxiety disorder, and also really did not want to go to sleep away camp 3 Summers ago. We have found that all of the most loved things in her life are things which she initially refused to consider due to fear/ anxiety. We did the following:

1) Researched the camp, until we were 100% comfortable with it (volunteered time with the Directors, visited it off-season, sought feedback from experienced camping families, etc.)

2) Made sure that the supervision would be provided by carefully selected, mature adults and not youngsters because many teens are not yet able to provide a) unconditional love even if they don't like a kid, and b) firm yet fair and consistent limits/ boundaries

3) Negotiated an agreement with the camp that our daughter had to stay for 4 days (out of a total of 3.5 weeks) and that, if she wanted to come home, she could after that (so she didn't feel trapped).

4) Told her that she had to go for the 4 days and that we'd come pick her up after that if she wanted us to. She never looked back, and the next Summer, went, at her request, to both 3.5 week sessions.

Should you be interested, all 3 of my kids say that they rate Plantation Farm Camp (2 hours from San Francisco) a 100 on a scale of 1 to 10!... and that they will never miss another Summer there again. All my best to you and your foster Son

Camp for 13yo who feels she is too old for camp

May 2011

We are looking for recommendations for summer camp in Contra Costa (preferably). Our daughter, who will be 13 in early August, feels she is too old for camp and wants to hang around at home all summer. My husband and I both work full-time, but even if we didn't, this wouldn't be OK with us. She is bored within 3 seconds of arriving home from school, and cannot think of anything she wants to do. She always asks for suggestions and rejects all of them (welcome to our world!). Anyway, you get the picture.

She is going to two weeks of sleepaway camp in early July. Other than that, we are looking for interesting things for her to do that she won't feel she is ''too old'' for. Last summer she had a fantastic time at Roughing It Horse Camp (first time), but now she has no memory of that good time. She has also gone to Adventure Day Camp for a number of years and that is really convenient to home, but she is again growing tired of it (though she had a better than usual time last summer there due to the field trips they do with the older kids - again, little memory of those good times!).

We are in Walnut Creek, so anything near here would be great.If you want to ask what she is interested in, other than swimming, it's hard to say, alas. Hanging around the house all summer texting her friends is definitely not an option. ;-) Thanks!

I've got kids entering 7th and 9th grades this fall, and I just wanted to recommend Roughing It again. My kids have been going to Roughing It Day Camp for years and even though they're now among the older campers they still love it. I love that they're busy outside all day (away from electronics!) and that they get picked up and dropped off at my house. They love the variety of activities (but most especially the horseback riding) and the dynamics of the campers and counselors. I definitely wouldn't want to force my kids to go to a camp they didn't want to go to so I do consider myself lucky that they like RI ... good luck with helping your daughter find something she likes! Ann

15-year-old claims he's too old for camp

May 2009

I need ideas on how to keep an unmotivated 15-yr-old active this summer and away from screens, which he can do all day long. He claims he's too old for camps. He likes basketball and baseball. We need ideas about sports, paid work?, volunteering, etc. Bracing for summer

When my children were teenagers I always thought that water sports were a great summer activity, we live by a fantastic body of water!!! So two thoughts depending on locations are:

The rowing and other boating programs at Lake Merritt http://www.rowlakemerritt.org/?page_id=57 http://www.oaklandnet.com/parks/programs/boating_youth_camps.asp

and Cal Adventures programs at the Berkeley Marina http://www.recsports.berkeley.edu/youth/yinside.aspx?uid=2cf83564-6bd4-45dc-ab27-05e7c8cf3981

These programs generally have sections specifically for older teens. My teens went to 1/2 day camps at each locations and as they got older got themselves to and from either by bike or public transit. They loved it all and what a great way to spend the summer on the bay. These are also great programs for kids visiting the bay area for the summer. mother of college students now

13-y-o is resisting music camp - do it anyway?

March 2007

We're thinking of sending our son to Cazadero Music Camp's Junior High session this summer. He's really been resisting the idea (at almost 13 he's never been away from home on his own for more than 2 days, and he dislikes being away too long, even with us) and I hate to push him, and spend all the money (!), if he'll really hate it. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure he'll love it, and that even if he doesn't it'll be good for him. (He plays piano & trumpet BTW - though he refuses to play piano at Caz, IF he goes.)

Does anyone have recent experience with Caz, AND/OR experience sending middle school kids to away camp, when they'd much rather stay home & play Runescape?

One of our son's friends went to Caz last year, and said he didn't like it bc he didn't know anyone. That was the only negative comment I've heard. Fortunately, two of our son's other friends may attend this summer, making the whole thing look way more attractive, even to him. Still, I could use your wise advice. Thank you! lcf

(Editor Note: Click here to read the full reviews below of Cazadero Music Camp that are excerpted below)

Cazadero Music Camp has been wonderful for our 15-year old daughter.... The environment is great. The people are warm and supportive. The music is amazing: The kids always learn a whole new program under a new conductor each week. The camp setting, along the creek, is also beautiful. I'm guessing he won't miss his video games after the first day. There's so much to do and so much fun to be had at Caz.

My son went to the beginning Cazadero camp several years ago, and it was excellent. However, I can certainly understand that your son prefers to have people there he already knows, and also may not be ready for a sleep away camp at a place he's never visited. Here are two possibilities for you to consider: (1) check out the Laney College Summer Music Program for middle schoolers. My daughter attended last year when she was 12, and although it's not as deep a music experience as ''Caz,'' it's a nearby day camp that's very affordable, and overall was an excellent experience for her despite sometimes wishing it was a little better organized. (2) consider attending one of the two Caz family camp weeks in August. That would allow you and your son to get familiar with Caz, not to mention have fun doing everything from various kinds of music to circus to visual arts to Taiko drums. It's not cheap to attend, but good value if your family has the deeply memorable experiences that many have had. -Still wearing my Caz T shirt

I've heard wonderful things about Cazadero although I have no personal experience with it. I'm sure that part of their great reputation (besides the music) comes from the fact that they provide a positive camping experience for the kids that go there!

The reason I'm writing is that I feel strongly about sending kids off to sleep-away camp. I think it's like learning to ride a bike or learning to swim or learning to drive a car---it's an important life experience that provides an opportunity for growth and sense of personal accomplishment. I went to several camps over several summers (for a week or two each). Most of them were great. Learned lots of songs, made new friends, hiked and swam. Loved riding the bus and singing ''Catalina, Madalina'' at the top of my lungs. One camp was a horrible experience, I hated my counselor, I was there for my birthday and the counselors confiscated the cookies that my grandmother sent to me (hmmm, wonder who ate those?!) But, I survived!! And, I have some pretty funny stories and great memories, even of THAT camp.

Each of my kids went off to their first camp starting the summer before 6th grade. My son went to Boy Scout camp, with a backpack full of clean clothes each marked with his name. He came home with a backpack full of clean clothes---he even survived not having showered or brushed his teeth for an entire week! (Maybe he swam that week?)

I do think it's nice if you have a friend go to the same camp---but after a couple of days at camp it won't matter if he doesn't. There will be other kids in the same boat!

I strongly encourage you to send him off! I think our kids need us to push them to do things that are a little scary or new so that they can move on to other (perhaps scary) rewarding activities---college, marriage, you know.

If he goes, definitely mail a letter off to him before he goes so that he'll get mail the first day. I always sent a magazine or quick paperback too. If the camp allows food, by all means consider a package of cookies. Helps make friends with your bunkmates!

I'd be willing to bet money that he'll have a great time. Sally

13-year-old refuses camp's overnight stays

Jan 2006

my 13 year old son has attended a wonderful day camp for the past four years and has enjoyed it as much as he enjoys anything. the problem is that the camp has two overnights per session that increase in length each year (for example, the two nighter for 4th graders is a three nighter for 6th graders). He absolutely will not stay overnight. Promises, threats, cajoling, bribing, etc. have not worked and I always end up driving for 1 to 3 hours to pick him up. This also results in many lost days of camp which have already been paid for (it ain't cheap!). AND...since all of his friends are away at camp he sits home and does nothing for those missed days. Well this year I have put my foot down and told him that we will have to find another day camp that doesn't have overnights. Yes, he's anxious; yes we've tried therapy; yes, he has friends at the camp who do stay overnight; yes, we've tried negotiating with the camp. The ideal situation for him (and me) would be some kind of Outward Bound program where he couldn't possibly come home but since that won't be happening I was hoping BPN folks could recommend local day camps. Sports camps are out, as is Abantey (hated it). Thanks everyone.
Can't Afford Brat Camp

I would like to recommend http://www.mixberkeley.com/ if your son is at all interested in music and/or computers. MixLab is a audio and media production class that runs as an after school program durring the school year and camp durring the summer. My children attend the school where this camp is held and I can highly recommend this teacher and any other staff that your son may come in contact with. Feel free to contact me with any questions. Natasha

My advice is that your son could be a Junior Counselor in Training at one of the day camps for younger kids that does not have overnights. City of El Cerrito recreation has a Jr. CIT program that can be a really good experience. The CITs receive training and are expected to learn to be responsible and organized. Other cities and the Y probably have similar programs. In El Cerrito you pay only the administrative costs of participation, so it is much cheaper than being a camper. -parent of a teen

For many years I sent my daughter to a summer camp she enjoyed, which also had overnights that grew longer as she got older. She also didn't want to go on overnights, and I remember several long drives to far away locations to pick her up, arguments about my paying and her at least giving it a try, etc.
My advice: don't push it. If you found a camp he likes, stick to it as he has friends and continuity. On the overnights, have him make playdates with friends so he's not just sitting at home. Don't create more anxiety for this type of kid. My daughter eventually outgrew her fears, to the point that now at 19 she hiked by herself through Spain and will be spending next year in a university in Africa. Some kids are just more cautious and have more fears than others, and they need to take their own time feeling comfortable in situations. Don't make a big deal out of it. Been There

having picked up my kid from numerous day camp overnights and sleepovers at friends' homes, I know well of what you speak, and clearly remember the frustration. so I know what you're going through.

but in terms of your kid's day camp for this summer, unless finding something else for him to do during the overnight would constitute some kind of real financial hardship (and at 13, maybe he can stay home for a day or two?), I would simply suck it up and send him back to the camp that he really likes and has friends at even though he'll miss the overnight. if you force him to go to another camp, you're basically punishing him for having whatever psychological issue makes it difficult to spend the night away from home. and as weird as that might seem to you and me as parents, apparently some kids have that issue longer than we might think is ''appropriate.'' (my kid recently decided that overnights are fine, and I was totally unaware of what made this change happen.)

so just let it slide, send him back to the camp he loves, and who knows? maybe by this summer he'll be ready to do the overnight. best wishes and good luck. anon

Daughter refuses any structured summer activities

March 2001

Dear Parents, I am gearing up for our usual summer battle. My husband and I would like our daughter to use some of her summer for either volunteering, taking a class or working at a paying job. She is very resistant to the idea of doing anything but hanging out with her friends. Does anyone have any clever ideas as to how I might suggest a way in which she herself might find something constructive to do? Any resources for summer activities for teens which are community service oriented ? I feel I am asking really dumb questions here, but I really don't know what to do. When I even broach the subject of doing something other than playing the whole summer by ear my daughter gets combative. I must be doing something wrong. All I want to convey to her is: You must find something [acceptable to me and Dad] to occupy a minimum of 50% of your time and the best way to have some choices would be to start looking around now. Does this sound reasonable to other parents out there? Am I being heavy handed to insist on discussing it now? Any and all sorts of advice are welcome: advice about the mechanics of finding someting to advice on how to improve my parental approach. Thanks, The Wet Blanket

No, you don't sound unreasonable at all (to me.) I've said the same words! I'll be looking forward to reading the responses!

To the parent signed Wet Blanket regarding her daughter doing something other than hanging out this summer. I totally agree with your position. It is very reasonable that your daughter not waste the whole summer just hanging out. simply being out of school and not having homework is a great break. She doesn't have to spend every waking minute in unstructured time. Plus, if she's college-bound, how she spends her free time is a factor that colleges look at. I want my daughter to do any of the three things you suggested, class, volunteering or paid work, during the time she's in town this summer. She will be a CIT for a few weeks and a camper for a couple more. Good luck and hold your ground even if your daughter grumbles.

You are certainly not alone in your predicament. It seems that the societal message to teens today is they aren't children and that they should be allowed to decide what is good for them rather than to capitulate to their parent's preferences and I think that a great many teens are taking this message to heart. It is, perhaps, fruitless to debate wether or not this is a good thing; it is enough to realize that this is reality. As parents we have no tangible means to force our children to do as we wish and this is even more so regarding certain willful independent minded teenagers.

Modern circumstances have altered the role of parenthood from the old fashioned authoritarian guardianship to something that might be characterized as a facilitator guardianship. As such, your main leverage as a parent is the degree to which you facilitate their interests and desires. The regulatory function is no longer a matter of do it or else, but, you can still impose your will on reluctant children by less direct yet effective means. In short, you provide encouragement, compliments and support for those behaviors that you approve of and speak out against, complain, and withhold support from those behaviors that you don't approve of. What are the alternatives? You can try bluffing them with empty threats but unless your child is somewhat dull they see right through it and call your bluff. You can get tough but so can they and when push comes to shove they will most likely be judged innocent and you guilty.

Don't let this discourage you. You have the advantage. Teenagers think that they know everything and you are so much wiser and experienced than they are. You merely have to trick them into doing the right thing and let them think that it was their idea. You must converse with them and ask them a lot of questions. When you get an answer that is acceptable to your purpose you seize upon that and promote it and provide the support to move that particular idea from thought to deed.

In your particular case, Ms. Wet Blanket, my first impression is that whatever constructive activities your daughter is going to end up doing are going to have to include one or more of her friends. Perhaps you can get her and a couple of her friends to apply for summer jobs at the same place or to volunteer for the same thing. She wants to be with her friends and you can facilitate this and lend your support to this providing they are doing something of value together.

Finally, although she doesn't know it, she is still just a kid and considering what modern life holds for her in the future, her teen years are her probably the greatest opportunity for the pure enjoyment of living that she will have in her lifetime. It is your responsibility and privilege to see to it that you steer her to those things that will provide her with memorable times that will help sustain her as she takes on the awesome task of facing the coming years. Help her to find something constructive to do that she will cherish the memory of having done and you will both be getting exactly what you want. Frank

I have a 15-year-old like this. Last summer his best friend's mom suggested they take a class together and we also planned out a couple weeks of camp. Then we could both say, Your best friend is going to be taking sailing lessons in August. Why don't I sign you up too? This had good results.

Once they get to be about 16, many if not most of their friends are going to be working or taking classes or doing other things in the summer, so just hanging out may well mean hanging out by herself for a good part of the time. Now's a good time to make a few phone calls to your daughter's friends' parents and find out what their plans are. You will have more leverage if you can point out to your daughter that most of her friends will not actually be available for hanging out this summer. Also you both may get some ideas for activities that your daughter might like, especially if her friends will be there too. This time last year, my older son discovered that many of his friends were planning to be counselors at Strawberry. He got in his application in time (er, actually I finished it myself and mailed it for him) and he had a great time, met new friends, made some money, and is applying again this summer.

I guess I am also a wet blanket type of parent, because I also insisted that my daughter and I develop a plan for her summers.

But my battles began before summer, since I insisted that she have a plan for after school time. I just repeated over and over, hanging out with your friends on Telegraph Ave after school every day is not acceptable. Eventually, we developed ideas. I bought her a membership in the YMCA, so that one or two afternoons a week she went there. She found that she had friends who also worked out. And although at first she was going to swim, it turned out she discovered other fun things, like weight lifting and other exercise machines. And I did eventually give her permission to go to a friend's house after school one day a week. Anyway, developing a plan took a long time, and over time, changes happened.

These days it is relatively easy for teens to get jobs, I think. At least there are lots of openings listed in store windows. It might help if you brain storm with your daughter about how to get a job. First general type of environment she might like working in. Second, the information she needs to have all together in order to fill out an application. Third how to ask for an appointment. Fourth practicing asking questions with her. But again, teaching teens about getting jobs takes time.

Other things your teen might do, is take a class. Mine took driver's ed. And I forced her to volunteer one day a week, the summer before she started working. It turned out she liked the volunteering sort of. It was a long bus ride. And when she started working after her junior year, what she really liked, probably more than the money, was the young people she met.

Another helpful idea would be to ask her what her friends are doing this summer. If they are going to be busy, working, or whatever, then she might realize that she can't just hang with them. Because I work in a bookstore, I had the luxury of insisting that if she didn't develop a plan, then the plan would be to come to the bookstore.

I wish you lots of luck and your idea, that your daughter has to do something is not extreme. When my teen got combative, I always said. Well you have a very conservative, old-fashioned parent. Sorry. And I would also say that Having a plan for what you are going to do is not negotiable. What is negotiable is what the plan will consist of.

My daughter was given a smallish allowance. Therefore she noticed that in order to afford her life style, going to the movies, buying CD's, having lunch with friends, she needed to earn money.

Hope this helps. Cheers. Kirsten

Dear Wet Blanket -

I feel extremely strongly about doing something. Despite his protests to the contrary, I think my son would just sit around and ultimately get depressed if he had no structure in his life for any length of time. In the past he has always gone to camp, but as he gets older it becomes harder and harder to find appropriate activities. This year we simply selected from the rather slim camp pickings. Realistically, he's not quite old enough to get a job yet.

I don't have any vast wisdom on the parenting aspect of the power struggle involved. My son splits his time between two households and he tells me that his father doesn't mind if he does nothing. I have resorted to telling him that if he wishes to do nothing he will have to go live with his father as I am absolutely unwilling to agree to it. So far it's worked. Yes, I do believe that I would follow through with the threat.

- Even Wetter Blanket