Jeff and I have already attended several study abroad and summer opportunities fairs for high school students this fall, and we have quite a few more on the horizon. These fairs offers students a chance to investigate a broad range of different camps and programs, and to decide what type of experience they’d like to have during their summer vacation. I am always amazed at the variety of options available to teenagers today: sports camps, leadership programs, outdoor adventure, academic enrichment, study abroad and cultural immersion… the list goes on. Considering the glut of summer opportunities out there today, it’s easy for students and parents to feel overwhelmed, and to lose sight of what these programs have to offer teens today.
Here at Sustainable Summer, we believe the summer is a great opportunity for students to explore academic interests that lie outside the scope of a typical high school curriculum. It’s also the ideal time to engage in athletic or cultural activities, and to connect with likeminded teenagers who are looking for a similar summer adventure. We have been thrilled to realize that many high schools are beginning to offer exciting courses in environmental science and sustainability, and some schools have even gone so far as to plant their own classroom gardens. We also realize, though, that there’s a huge difference between studying environmental issues for 45 minutes a day, and engaging in an sustained, hands-on learning experience, like living and working on an organic farm, or spending a week in the Amazon rainforest to study natural resource management.
We also believe the summer is an excellent time for students to step outside their comfort zone, and try new activities in the company of new friends. We are pleased to offer outdoor activities like white water rafting, mountain biking, hiking and surfing, because we know from experience that they can be exciting challenges that boost teens’ confidence, and instill them with a sense of adventure. At the same time, we feel it is important for our students to push themselves in other ways, including cultural engagement and language immersion. What better way to practice your Spanish language skills than to engage in conversations with local Ecuadorians about food and water policy over some tasty local cuisine?
All of this is to say, we hope high school students will use their summers well, and will find ways to explore their interests and expand their horizons during this brief break from the school year. If there is anything we can do to help you or your student fulfill his summertime goals, let us know!