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Summer Planning for Raising Healthy and Happy Teens and Tweens

Brooke Summer PlanningBrooke Turner is Co-Founder & CMO of Kwaddle, the online platform to help parents and kids find the best out-of-school learning and life experiences for kids. Brooke’s life work has impacted thousands of kids, teens and young women over the course of her career as a high school teacher, an academic partnership and marketing manager for National Instruments, a robotics mentor, and the co-founder of a non-profit to support out-of-school STEM programs. Now through Kwaddle, Brooke’s goal is to support other women in the workplace by providing easier access to high-quality, out-of-school enrichment opportunities for kids across Central Texas.

This guest post pairs nicely with Courtney Harris Coaching’s “Talking to Teenagers” series! Keep reading for tools and support as you begin planning summer programs and experiences with your teen!


Starting the Conversation about Summer Programs and Experiences

Summer can be your greatest asset in guiding hard-to-reach teens (so, yes, I mean all teens) toward a healthy and happy adulthood. As the parent, motivated to get our teens involved this summer, we might try to explain to our kids how the constructivist theory of learning proposes that people actually learn by processing new experiences like words, ideas, cultures, tastes, smells, emotions, and life events. That they’ll be challenged and better off for having to adjust what they thought they knew with the new information they gain.


But, their eyes may glaze over. Perhaps, they’re not buying it. This is where we can try to understand the benefits from a teenager’s perspective and approach it the same way they would if they were trying to persuade us to buy them the latest smartphone or drive them to their friend’s house. They would tell us all the reasons why it’s a great idea for us!


They may not want to hear about learning theory, but we can put it in terms that matter to them. People develop working knowledge, new skills and even street smarts and gut instinct when we take the time to notice, process, and identify what’s happening during our experiences. For example, if your teen wants to gain or master a certain skill, let them propose which camps, classes, or volunteer opportunities will give them the best opportunity to meet that goal. Additionally, offer them a forum to process what they’re learning.


Tools for Conversation

Try some of these tools to keep the conversation going, and share with us what works. We’re all in this together!

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Staying Light and Having Fun Planning

Teens and tweens have taught us everything we need to know how to convince someone that our idea is a good one. In fact, they’re quite creative when they really want something. When something is important to them, teens truly listen and understand what we care about. Let’s take a light-hearted perspective, as we consider the importance of summer programming, as well as the motivations of both parents and teens:


  1. Summer camps can help shape the way teens see and interact with the world.
Parents care about:

Summer camp introduces teens to diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Teens care about:

My new friends will increase my followers on Instagram!


summer camp

Summer camp–a week or two away from home-life, teachers and parents, and most importantly, any troubles a teen is currently facing–can be your teen’s chance reset and restart. Furthermore, no matter the content or theme of the camp, they may be exposed to new backgrounds and opportunities that bring new perspectives, friends, and followers into their lives.






  1. Summer is a great time for teens to explore career options.
Parents care about:

Summer programs, internships, and job shadowing are great for career preparation.

Teens care about:

I’ll make enough money to buy the newest smartphone as soon as it comes out…every year!


summer job

New experiences can open a teen’s eyes to a wide range of possibilities for the futures. Even if they don’t attend, encourage them to research various summer activities such as a college prep program like Summer Springboard or volunteering at KidVentures Therapy, a summer camp for kids with special needs. The research alone will give them new ideas and make them aware of jobs within industries they may have never considered. Suddenly, the career options are endless and motivation to make money and learn may be triggered




  1. When teens volunteer and help others, it frees them from their own worries for a bit.
Parents care about:

Summer volunteering gives teens a fresh perspective on their own lives and teaches them to give back.

Teens care about:

This will look great on my resume or college application!


Volunteering not only gives teens a fresh perspective, but it can give them a much-needed break from the harsh self-talk and self-doubt they often battle throughout the day. They can be freed up to think about something else or someone else, and it’s a load off for a moment. They can breathe. And, yes, we agree that it will also look great on their resume too.


We invite you and your teen to explore priorities and preferences as you collaborate to select summer programming that will inspire and excite them. It is our hope that this guide to beginning the exploration and tapping into motivations will support you as you connect with your teen and prepare for the upcoming summer months.




About Kwaddle

Kwaddle is a free resource for parents to find after-school programs and summer camps for kids ages 4-18. It’s easy to use so that kids and teens can help find new options, too. Give them your parameters such as budget, location, dates, and times that work for you. Let them explore to find new ideas, and then work through their feasibility together, seeing which ones meet both their interests and your budget.


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