Is your teen complaining about a bummer summer? FOMO (fear of missing out) is real. How many of us are staring at our phones right now watching the awesome things our friends are up to and wishing we could join in on the fun, or wishing that our lives were as interesting as theirs? Before we know it, the back to school commercials and the end of summer anxieties arrive.
All too often we find ourselves promising our teens that we’ll take them to all sorts of fun places over the summer, only to find out the summer has come and gone, and faced with the guilt that we didn’t take them anywhere at all. We get it, time flies. Our days are busy, life is expensive. Then of course there’s the logistics of transportation, the food, the who, the what, the when and let’s be honest, after a long day of work most nights we just want to relax, not run around a water park and wait in line for 2 hours to get on a ride that lasts 30 seconds.
As our daily lives get busier by the second, how do we ensure that our teens are making the most out of their summer break, being active and engaged, and most importantly, making memories?
With the rise of social media and mobile technology, our teens are becoming increasingly socially isolated. According to the Pew Research Center for Information and Technology, “Just 25% of teens spend time with friends in person (outside of school) on a daily basis. For many teens, texting is the dominant way that they communicate on a day-to-day basis with their friends.” As online and mobile interactions increase, real-life face-to-face social skills begin to decrease for teens. For teens with social anxiety, online interactions are easier to manage as well. However, these social habits for teens further debilitate their ability to function in society as well-rounded, social adults after high school.
How can we inspire change? With less social teens especially, it requires a variety of different opportunities to break out of their comfort zone, try new things, connect with friends, make new ones and most importantly, get off their phones.
So… how can the Y help? Help your teen make meaningful friendships and connections with positive role models in our YMCA Teen summer camps. If you have a teen yearning for adventure and looking for lots of fun places to experience, we recommend our popular Teen Trek camp! Perfect for ages 11-14, Teen Trekkers go on field trips to a variety of locations including beaches, lakes, museums, amusement parks and much more. Trading in a regular routine for an outdoor adventure can help them see the world (and themselves) in a whole new light. This opportunity is incredibly important for young people and will give them a summer of memories they’ll never forget.
Here are all the places and activities Teen Trekkers have left to complete before the summer ends!
• Seven Presidents Beach
• High Point State Park
• Dave & Busters
• Colonial Park
• Paddle Boating
• Mini Golf
• Mountainside Community Pool
• Sahara Sam’s
• Tree Top Adventures
• Berkeley Aquatics Pool
• Oxford-Furnace Lake
• Six Flags
• FunPlex & Splash Zone
Not to mention all the things we’ve done already this summer! (See Weekly Trip Schedule)
Experiencing an outdoor leadership trip in a small group setting without cell phones, social media or other distractions allows participants to embrace the present, to adapt to their vulnerabilities, to develop new strengths and ultimately form strong, new relationships that cross social divides.
According to our friends at the YMCA of Greater Seattle, there are four ways teens gain leadership skills through outdoor adventures:
By trying new things and facing fears or anxieties, teens are proving to themselves that they can overcome obstacles.
When teens conquer fears and learn new skills, they begin to see themselves as powerful and successful. Many young people don’t have a lot of tangible ways to realize success beyond reaching a new level of a video game. The outdoors provides opportunities for reaching new levels of physical, cognitive and emotional challenges.
Being in a small group setting with structured sharing and feedback activities provides participants a safe space to open up, gain communication skills and practice empathy. The teen years are a critical time for youth to develop emotional intelligence and expand their awareness.
It’s hard not to feel in awe when you are surrounded by mountains or see a deer walk silently down a trail. This sense of wonder has increasingly shown to have positive mental and physical benefits.
When young people are empowered to face their fears, learn new skills and connect with others and the world around them, they are better equipped to reach their full potential in life. All this, plus fun and adventure? Where do we sign up (and can we discuss the possibilities of an adults travel camp)?!
To sign up for or learn more about Teen Trek, visit: www.thesay.org/teen-trek. To view all summer camps, visit: www.thesay.org/camp. Please note: Registration closes Wednesday for the following week. Financial assistance is always available to those in need. There are only a few weeks left, so don’t miss out, sign up today!
For more information on our many other engaging athletic activities, educational enrichment programs, special events, workshops and trips available year-round at the Summit Area YMCA to assist teens (grades 6-12) with discovering, exploring and expanding their interests and talents outside the classroom, please visit: www.thesay.org/teens.
About the Summit Area YMCA
The Summit Area YMCA is one of the area’s leading 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. Founded in 1886, the Summit Area YMCA has a history steeped in working side-by-side with our neighbors to ensure that everyone, regardless of age, income and background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Each year, we serve more than 10,000 individuals with our free and fee-based programs and services in an area spanning the communities of Berkeley Heights, Gillette, Millburn, New Providence, Short Hills, Springfield, Stirling and Summit. Through the generosity of our members, donors, and partners, we are able to offer financial assistance for our programs and services to those with demonstrated need.