By JOE LAVIS
The final weeks of school can be so hectic that planning the following three months often comes as an afterthought. With assignments, tests and early bus rides behind them, students are left to wonder, “what should I do this summer?”
We have the answer. Here’s a list of the top ten ways that you should spend your time this summer.
Explore the Great Outdoors
With flourishing trees and fully blossomed flowers, it’s arguable that nature reaches its peak in the summer. Getting outside and exploring its beauty is best done by taking the time to walk through and embrace it. You can even make a multi-day adventure out of hiking by pitching a tent with a few friends or family. Camping is an excellent way to take advantage of the cool summer nights and maximize your time enjoying the country’s wildlife. From dazzling beaches to soaring mountains, dense forests to vast plains, the U.S. is full of beauty calling for you to explore. The National Park Service has some handy resources for locating parks and trails near you.
Escape the Heat and Take a Dip
In most areas of the country, the weather is only suitable for swimming for a short period of time. Take advantage of the warmth and sunshine by going for a dip in the oceans, rivers, lakes, swimming pools, water parks or whatever you have access to in your area. There is nothing more refreshing than wading in the water on a hot summer day. With so many public access points at most bodies of water, there is no reason not to visit the thousands of water-spots in the country.
Become an Expert on History and Culture
Museums act as a window into places separated by time and location. They provide the tools to educate people on the history of our predecessors and the world’s intercultural development through the ages. From instructive science exhibits to experiential art displays, museums have a lot to offer for those with an open mind and a will to learn. Make a day trip to a local museum or plan a vacation around seeing multiple exhibits across the country. If you’re on a tight budget, do not fret. There are loads of free museums just a google search away. Check out National Geographic’s list of 20 free U.S. museums that are worth checking out.
Witness the World’s Wildlife
America is home to some of the best zoos and aquariums in the world. When looking into visiting a zoo or aquarium, you must consider the quality of the establishment. It is no secret that sometimes these institutions do not uphold the best treatment for animals. Despite the negligent ones, there are several zoos that do a great job caring for their animals. Read more about how to identify a good zoo.
Once you weed out the bad zoos and aquariums in your own research, there is an immense amount that society can take away from the high quality ones. They help conserve the extensive list of species at risk of becoming extinct, provide an outlet for scientists and animal-life experts to conduct research, and educate the public about our planet’s wildlife. Something to note is that if you research different zoos and aquariums in advance, you will most likely find some limited edition exhibits that pique your interest, so start planning today.
Earn Some Cash and Build Your Resume
With all of the spare time in the summer, getting a part-time job can never hurt. Whether you are saving up for college or earning some money to help fund your summer excursions, it is no doubt that the three-month break from school is a wonderful opportunity to earn some extra cash. Aside from the financial aspect of getting a job, it is never too early to start gaining work experience. There is something to learn from any job you have, no matter how simple it may seem. Some examples of part-time jobs good for high school students include lifeguarding, working as a cashier, host/hostessing at a restaurant, or being a camp counselor.
If you already have a pretty firm grasp on what you want to study in your post-secondary studies, the summer is perfect for seeking opportunities such as internships or specialty camps that provide insight into your desired field of study. When looking for a job later down the line, it may be beneficial to prove to the potential employer that you had an early interest in the field and have several years of experience. Even if you are unsure of your interest, these programs can give you an idea of whether or not it is a profession that you would like to further consider.
Declutter and Dispose with a Garage Sale
Summer break is a time for not only cleansing your mind but for purging unused or unwanted possessions. Whether you’re going off to college in the fall or simply need a fresh start, garage and yard sales are a great way for you to declutter your living space and get rid of those belongings that you haven’t touched in years.
If you’re having trouble getting this project rolling, let the thought of earning a few extra dollars motivate you. All you have to do to start is throw open your attic door, have two boxes labeled “Keep” and “Sell,” and get to sorting. Pick a day that works for you and list your yard sale in the appropriate classified sections of both Craigslist and your local newspaper. People won’t know you’re selling all this great stuff if you don’t advertise the event. Whatever you don’t sell, you can donate to local charities or even friends and family.
Explore Yourself through Self Expression
Ever have a hairstyle or cool outfit you wanted to sport? With three months away from your peers and teachers, it’s your time to explore yourself without fear of judgement. Summer is the perfect opportunity for you to test out new ways of expressing yourself and find out just what it is you have to offer the world. This doesn’t stop at your appearance. With your spare time, you can sign up for a dance class, learn an instrument, stylize your room, join a sports team and so much more. Live your best life this summer and have fun finding yourself.
Visit Places Only Your Imagination Can Take You
During the year, it can be difficult to read for leisure when you’re constantly bombarded with reading assignments at school. This summer, take the time to read something for yourself without any deadlines or papers in the mix. You might be surprised where your imagination takes you and what you can learn from a good book. If you don’t know how to find the right book for you, join a local reading club or check TIME’s list of 100 best books for young adults.
Have Fun on the Fairgrounds
Carnival rides and fair food are the pinnacle of American culture. Each summer, people travel from surrounding towns to go to the nearest fairgrounds and come together for a celebration of life. If you’re on social media, you most likely have seen ferris wheels and funnel cake flood your Instagram feed when the season rolls around. The truth is, it’s usually as fun as the pictures suggest. Many of these fairs offer petting zoos, games, rides and other festivities perfect for a day of fun with your family, friends, or romantic interest. Look up county and state fairs that are happening near you and start planning your visit today.
Put Others Before Yourself
Don’t feel bad if you’re spending your summer focusing on yourself, but if you have the time, you can do some work for others. Completing community service leaves you with a feeling of fulfillment and a sense of achievement. You can always log your hours and add the experience to your resume. If you’re a college-bound teen, volunteering your time is a great way to stand out to college admissions counselors and show them your quality of character. Read more about why volunteering is a key component in the college admissions process.
The opportunities are endless when it comes to deciding how to spend your summer. No matter how you choose to spend it, the important part is that you have fun and stay safe. Be proactive and make the most of your time this summer.