Originally published in The Globe and Mail
Summer is a funny time for teenagers. It’s so different from the school year, when everything is scheduled and accounted for, filled with what needs to be done. But summer is this big chunk of time that can be like a block of unformed clay. It sits there and you can make of it what you want. Or you can let it just sit there.
“Yeah, that’s my vote. Let me just have it sit there. The perfect summer. Nothing.”
Parents may not have quite the same perspective. “That’s exactly what I worry about. I don’t want him to just waste a summer. The summer is an opportunity for him to make something out of it, to have some kind of valuable experience. Not spend two months as a vegetable. And then any opportunity is gone.” So what is best for a teen to do with the summer? There are a number of rather different possibilities. Kids with an eye on university and career have the constant pressure of building their résumé, which, with each new entry, increases their chances of having a better future. Everything counts. No time can be wasted. No unspoken periods that were not somehow creatively utilized. Tutoring underprivileged school children. Taking a course in Western philosophy as it pertains to a more globalized world. Volunteering in a wildlife study that tracks the moose population during the summer months.