Summer Jobs/Activities For an Almost Sixteen Year Old?
June 11, 2013 12:22 PM   Subscribe

My wife's son lives with us for 2 months during the summer (July 1st - August 30th) in San Diego. He is 15 1/2, too young to get a McMinimum wage franchise job at In-N-Out or Target and a bit too old/mature for 'camp'. Would love some suggestions on what, on earth, this child is going to do for 2 months. What did you do during your summer before Junior year?

He turns 16 the week after he leaves in September - the working age in California is 16 unless you get a note from the local school (which he doesn't attend). Regardless, the application to hire process may take months.

- Left up to his own devices, he would play video games online with his friends 20 hours a day. So would I, but that's just not a healthy way to spend your summer. We want to give him a bit of purpose and structure this summer, paid or not.

- We would LOVE LOVE LOVE a volunteer program for him. Something where he shows up at 8 in the morning and helps out doing.....something...watering plants, restocking library books, handing towels to swimmers at the Y... We have no idea what volunteerism there is for 15 year olds.

- The Junior Lifeguarding program he was in last summer is full (he's on the waitlist, but they just wrote it's not looking good).

- I've called all the local grocery stores asking about bag boys and mopping help, 16 is the minimum for the family owned ones, unions and no seasonal help for the chains

- He will not be driving but has a bike that can get him around the Point Loma/Ocean Beach area

- San Diego is flush with low wage, adult immigrant help. Busboy's and general kitchen help is almost impossible to find

- We looked in to computer camps, learning Java and such, great for a week, but for a month of 'classes' and a month to chill would feel like summer school (this is our current plan, for what it's worth)

- Mowing laws, walking dogs and other 'kid' type jobs that I grew up with are done by professionals

Signing him up for camp is our last resort, it seems very childish and he's resisted every mention of it. What else are we not thinking of?

I know and appreciate that some folks may want to answer 'just let the kid be a kid and relax', and while that may be helpful for some children, this particular child needs some contact with the outside world and structure not given to him by his parents.
posted by BlerpityBloop to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (43 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Don't some overnight camps employ kids that age as camp counselors?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:25 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Junior counselor at camp, or babysitter/mother's helper (especially for a family with boys, having a guy babysitter can be a nice change.)
posted by mercredi at 12:26 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

When I was that age and a little younger the local public school district had a summer day "camp" (it was half recreation, half voluntary summer school) for elementary age kids that was staffed by teachers and kids ages ~13-15. You can look for similar programs through the local Parks and Recreation department, they are usually happy to hire younger teens or offer volunteer opportunities.

Another less structured option would be volunteering at a local hospital or senior center. Always welcome and available. Be warned that hospital volunteering can be "competitive" (it's a resume builder for certain types) so he's likely to get stuck with the boring/lame jobs, but it's still helping and worth doing.
posted by telegraph at 12:26 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I took summer classes at the local college that summer.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 12:27 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Does he like kids? He could babysit, more and more boys do it.
posted by mareli at 12:27 PM on June 11, 2013

Have you asked him what he wants to do - beyond playing video games and be online?

Idealist and Volunteermatch are websites that will have volunteer opportunities.
posted by quodlibet at 12:27 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

VolunteerMatch for opportunities suitable for teens in San Diego. You may want to play around with the search options there to refine a little.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:29 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

He'll hate me for suggesting this, but how about a summer SAT/ACT prep course (or tutor)?
posted by nkknkk at 12:33 PM on June 11, 2013

Hmmm. I worked when I was 15 1/2, that (used?) to be the age you could get a work permit in CA. I also volunteered at the SD Rescue Mission when I was in high school, but it seems that the minimum age is now 16. What about looking into an adopt a grandparent program? I did that in middle school and it was really rewarding. My grandparent and I exchanged letters for years after I moved away. I still think about her (though she has long since passed). It wouldn't be a full-time thing, more like once or twice a week for a few hours, but I think it would be a really great use of time.
posted by tealcake at 12:35 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @quodlibet "Have you asked him what he wants to do - beyond playing video games and be online?"

Yes. We have, and we've given him our thoughts on summer options. In typical 15 year old fashion he says 'i don't know, stuff? Maybe some things?'. He's a fantastic kid, remarkably mature and responsible, but lazy (as are all 15 year old boys) unless you say 'you are doing this today, put a smile on'.

Googling like a madman on summer camp jr counseling positions for everyone else that suggested it, cant believe i didn't think of that. the problem is the interview process, i imagine they hire in advance, i need a quick hire/yes you can show up tomorrow thing for him as he arrives and then leaves two months later.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 12:38 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

What did you do during your summer before Junior year?

Honestly? I sat around and played video games with my friends. Volunteered a little at the library. Slept in for once.

Okay, yeah, it wasn't "productive." So what? From 16 on I was working; Junior year was intense and college-focused, Senior year not much better, then it's off to college. That one summer, awkwardly "too young to easily work, too old to go to camp," was pretty much the last big unstructured time of my life, and I don't think I ended up so badly for having done Nothing for a couple of months.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:39 PM on June 11, 2013 [30 favorites]

15 1/2? Perfect summer for Driver's Ed! Can't he do that? That was my favourite part of the summer I turned 16.

That's what I did. And I took a few summer school courses for credits so that I could have fewer classes and more study periods (and late homeroom!) during the regular school year. And I had my wisdom teeth out.

I also worked at an antique market on weekends, selling vintage clothing, jewellery and accessories. During the week I'd pick items from rummage sales, thrift stores and estate sales to sell to my bosses, once I learned what they were looking for.
posted by peagood at 12:45 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Actually I think 15.5 is old enough to make your own decisions about how to spend your leisure time. If you don't want him to game, put the equipment for it away and tell him he can:

a) do nothing productive
b) volunteer somewhere to help his college transcript/pass the time/have fun--and let him figure out where (though you can help him research)
c) do chores around the house to earn more time gaming (or money/whatever)
d) do a project related to his chosen career field (build/write/create something)

He is too old for camp, and too old to be scheduled by his parents. He needs to learn to make these decisions himself and you need to let him.

And while I'm sure you didn't mean to, but your post reads like he's going to be in your way and be a nuisance, and not, you know, there to hang out with his family who loves him and wants to spend time with him.
posted by emjaybee at 12:46 PM on June 11, 2013 [8 favorites]

Does he like animals? The Humane Society or other local rescue groups may have volunteer opportunities for the summer.
posted by cairnoflore at 12:47 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

How about some sort of classes in 'fun' things he's interested in? I'm always seeing things around my area that are aimed towards teens that sound like fun - check out local glassworks places, film schools, libraries, community college, the zoo, etc. Maybe he could get into a junior videogame programming class?

Volunteer-wise, how about the local animal shelter? I used to see a lot of teens around the one I volunteered at in SC - I think they were especially thrilled to have help during the daytime.

And this one is pretty out there, but I believe I was 15 when I started taking flying lessons; if he has any interest (and if you're willing to finance), being able to pilot a plane is an amazing experience and was a crazy confidence-builder for me, to boot ...
posted by DingoMutt at 12:50 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

What about learning to crew down at the yacht club/marina?
posted by SLC Mom at 12:51 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

This page lists a few ideas - San Diego Air and Space museum apparently takes kids aged 14+ as summer volunteers (although applying now might be too late/training is in June?). You could try asking the people who run the site about other ideas as well, they list twitter/facebook/etc contact details.
posted by jacalata at 12:53 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

(Sorry, missed your point about classes feeling like summer school ... maybe something shorter and more focused on a fun activity would make it more appealing? UCSD's Digital Media program has a slew of pretty cool-sounding one-week courses, for instance - they call it a "camp," but apparently it's not a sleepaway camp).
posted by DingoMutt at 12:55 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm with Tomorrowful. I've been working since I was 14. It's the biggest regret of my life. Let him relax, maybe sign him up for one super-recreational outdoor thing to make sure he produces enough vitamin D, but I'd stay mostly hands off and let him rest up for life as a cog.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:55 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Community college course? (Assuming having a parent who lives in California qualifies him for resident tuition, which I suspect it doesn't. So probably cost-prohibitive, never mind possibly a mess--the community college is the only thing I have used my high school diploma for.)

I volunteered on a state senate campaign the summer before my junior year. The summer before my senior year, I went to work with my mother and did her photocopying and filing, walked home for lunch and watched the Cubs game. This may have been of dubious legality. One year I sat at a table in the children's library and dispensed prizes for the summer reading program. (My brother was rather more successful at getting paid for random summer tasks. He got paid to work as someone's assistant at my mother's job for a summer and then got a job shelving books in the library.)
posted by hoyland at 1:03 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

+1 for the junior counselor thing. Don't just call camps -try YMCA and the like, Boys and Girls clubs, local parks and rec centers, after-school care at places that are doing summer school like elementary schools, kids play spaces and game centers, etc.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:04 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Just an FYI, if he is interested in making money* this summer - I don't think it matters if he attends the local school or not for purposes of getting the work permit. It's just a matter of getting the right person to sign the form. If he's interested it may be useful to get the same sort of form filled out from his home state/school to show the local person.

*I know I was not the only teenager who enjoyed working and making money during my summers off from school. Also, a job with other teenagers can be so much more fun than camp or some class.
posted by stowaway at 1:06 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

My stepdaughter just turned 15 and she has a weekend job during the summer at a locally owned pick-your-own field/produce market. Granted, we got that through a family connection (the wife of the family who owns the field works with my husband) but possibly something like that? You must have those kinds of roadside stand businesses in abundance where you are.
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:13 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Try calling nonprofits and see if they need a volunteer to do data entry. A lot of nonprofits have a hard time taking on volunteers that young for liability reasons but usually anyone can do data entry. I volunteer at a local animal rescue occasionally and they can't have young kids volunteering without an adult but they have data entry they need people to do. They also run a small camp for little kids that they need help with.

When I was a young teenager, there were several vacation Bible schools in our area. I don't know how you would feel about him helping out with one of those but that might be a possibility. We also had a few local clubs for young teenagers that would connect you with volunteer opportunities - is there something like that near you? Is he at all interested in politics? He could probably volunteer for the local party collecting petition signatures or something.

The summer before my junior year, IIRC, was spent largely riding a bike around town with a friend, having sleepovers, occasionally doing something productive and flirting with boys. I wouldn't tie him up with too many things this summer. Try to identify one or two things that actually interest him and help him do those things.
posted by kat518 at 1:22 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

On the further out-there side of things, he could build a tiny house. Look at the smallest trailerable houses here.

That would be a lot of money for you to buy the parts, and one of the adults would probably need to help. But if he lives in it, that's probably cheaper than paying for a college dorm or paying his rent, and he'd have a house when he graduates high school! (More realistically, that would be multiple summer project, unless you are super dedicated.)
posted by BeeDo at 1:41 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

If I had had the chance to spend 2 months in San Diego in the summer when I was 15, I would have wanted to learn how to surf and/or do other ocean stuff. This is of course assuming that he doesn't live on the coast the rest of the year.

I also would have wanted to spend as much time at your zoo as possible. Most zoo volunteer programs have a long training time, I think, but it does look like they have a camp for high school kids, if he's at all interested.
posted by hydropsyche at 2:24 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

my friends who grew up in San Diego surfed and biked. how about surfing lessons? does he like the out doors? just to the east of San Diego, on the edge of the desert is fantastic hiking. I wouldn't have a kid his age go alone but their are older scout programs and wilderness training programs. there is also deer park monastery - they would probably welcome some help and the monks are in their twenties, and very athletic. great role models as well
posted by zia at 2:29 PM on June 11, 2013

there is also some great oceanography institutes - woods hole, I think. he could I ntern/volunteer and get out on the ocean with them
posted by zia at 2:32 PM on June 11, 2013

I'm giggling. My dad ran a non-profit when I was that age and I knew exactly where I'd be every day--filing and answering phones for him.

How about candy striping/volunteering at your local hospital? I did that and really enjoyed it. I worked in the Emergency department.

The San Diego Zoo has summer programs, volunteer and interships. Check into one of those?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:33 PM on June 11, 2013

Anecdotally, the summer before Junior year of high school was the last time I spent anything more than a long weekend at my Dad's house hanging out with him and my younger half-siblings (mostly grew up at Mom's) because every summer after that I had a job and now, adulthood. Could be a good opportunity to just take advantage of some rapidly diminishing unstructured time together.
posted by justjess at 2:38 PM on June 11, 2013

How about some surf lessons? You're in San Diego, take advantage of that.

When I was 15 I was volunteering for the local Parks & Recreation Department. It was a lot of fun, and I'd been doing it since I was 14. When I was old enough to get a paying job it was nice to have something to put on the applications for my work history.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:50 PM on June 11, 2013

Make a deal with him. He could read a certain number of books, listen to a certain amount of classical, jazz, and other non-kid music, go to museum programs, or volunteer, etc., maybe even a week or 2 of camp in exchange for being on his own and hanging out online playing games the rest of the time. If there's a community pool or tennis courts, he could hang out at the pool and meet other kids or take tennis/ kayaking/ surfing, etc. lessons. At 15, totally unstructured time can be problematic. Even structuring some of it will be a good thing. Can you and his Mom take lots of 1/2 days or work at home days?
posted by theora55 at 2:53 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

At that age I worked as a babysitter, housesitter, and dogsitter, and also volunteered at a local veterinary clinic (learned a TON) and at the local hospital through a program called Volunteen (mostly learned how to file and how to give mammograms to nuns). I was also a camp counselor.
posted by vegartanipla at 2:55 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

I went to camp for the first time when I was almost 15 (which was also my last time, but not because of anything bad). I wasn't too old.

Mine was on the east coast, where there's more of a camp tradition, but here near Seattle the Y has plenty of camps for kids his age.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:00 PM on June 11, 2013

Does he have summer reading? You might want to check on that.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:09 PM on June 11, 2013

The summer I was 15 was before my sophomore year, not junior, but I got a job in late summer that year. I got the job of my own volition, not because my parents said I needed one. Before and during then, I spent every moment possible hanging out with my friends in the downtown area of my city (parks, coffee shops, movies, the mall). When I couldn't be out, I was reading books and playing video games. And looking back, I truly appreciate the freedom my parents afforded me in the summers.

Different kids have different needs, though. What are his interests? Volunteering will go over better if they're tied to what he likes.
posted by asciident at 4:58 PM on June 11, 2013

Is he at all good with his hands? He could work/voulenteer at a bike shop. They always need help in the summer.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 5:21 PM on June 11, 2013

I spent my teenage summers right next door in Coronado. I once went to a weeklong camp at Sea World. So awesome!
posted by lyssabee at 6:31 PM on June 11, 2013

The summer that I was 15.5, I spent two weeks at camp -- one at "senior high camp" and one as a junior counselor -- then I spent one week helping out at my church's Vacation Bible School. And I think I spent one week on a mission trip with my church youth group -- we went to Mexico and worked with kids. And I spent the other...what, ten weeks? of the summer at the beach or watching movies at home. It was great because it was really the last summer that I wasn't worried about much of anything. I just...slept in, went to the beach, hung out with friends, and did it all over again the next day.

Since he's visiting for the summer instead of being at home where his school friends are, it might be worth looking into social opportunities for high school kids. Surfing lessons sounds like a good possibility, maybe something else beach-centered? If you are at all religious or open to church/temple, I bet there's one in your area that has a youth group, and that's a good way for a teenager to spend some time with kids his age without worrying that he's going to be getting into a lot of trouble. (All that beach time I spent as a teenager? That was with my church friends and our youth group leaders. Who were awesome young adults, mentors, all that.)
posted by devinemissk at 6:44 PM on June 11, 2013


Or learn to draw, make pots, or sculpt at a local art school.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:50 PM on June 11, 2013

If he is interested in the outdoors an Outward Bound trip or other equivalent could be awesome. Not cheap, but potentially inspiring and amazing.
posted by fieldtrip at 7:40 PM on June 11, 2013

Along the lines of what others have mentioned, this sounds like a perfect opportunity to really dig in and learn something not-so-academic. My first thought was that two months could be a great amount of time to pick up an instrument. Things like guitar and ukulele can totally be self-taught with a book or, honestly, just with YouTube.
posted by Rallon at 12:51 PM on June 12, 2013

I'd get him into programming or similar. Arduino would be a great place to start. Or ask him if he wants to learn how to build levels in video games, or hell, learn to build a game itself. It can be addicting and a super useful skill.
posted by barnone at 10:57 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

« Older GPS for iPhone 5   |   Once an attempted cheater.... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.