Tips On Trips Spots The Hot Trends In Summer Programs For Teens

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Major changes have occurred in the summer programs available for teens. Shorter, more focused programming enrich teenagers' summers in new ways.

Tips On Trips And Camps

Tips On Trips And Camps

The trends that seem to be driving the summer program industry right now are demands for shorter programs to accommodate the busy teen schedule and demands for more bang for the buck.

“Summer programming for teens has become a very competitive industry. Parents are looking for ways to occupy their younger teens that cannot yet hold jobs. And, parents of older teens are looking for resume builders and experiences from which their teens can craft college essays,” says Eve Eifler, co-owner of Tips on Trips and Camps, Inc.

Co-owner Carey Rivers adds, “The trends that seem to be driving the summer program industry right now are demands for shorter programs to accommodate the busy teen schedule and demands for more bang for the buck.”

Eifler agrees, “While programs abroad used to be strictly delineated between language, community service, or adventure travel; today, teens can choose one program in which they can do all three. And, teens can participate in two distinctly different trips in one summer under the same organization. To allow for this, these organizations provide escorted flights from one country to the next destination.”

Rivers highlights social entrepreneurship as another hot trend in teen summer camp programming. She says, “these programs teach teens business-based solutions to social problems like poverty and ecology. Students learn environmental stewardship and leadership skills at top American universities or in foreign settings such as South Africa or Switzerland.

Experiences abroad for teenagers have been a popular thing for years. A high school student can explore a foreign culture by studying on a college campus or staying with a host family. A new type of experience, however, is one in which a student has already developed a passion at home and wants to experience that skill in a foreign setting. Eifler agrees, "A student can paint in a small community in Ireland or develop their writing in Prague. They can explore public health issues and learn preventive medicine in Nicaragua or do a photography workshop in London."

Food and sustainable living is certainly a new area of interest to many teens and parents alike and the industry has responded with a multitude of farm to table programs, both domestically and abroad. Rivers adds, “Kids have become disconnected from the land and from where their food is derived. With some trips to Italy, teens can learn organic farming and culinary skills and form an appreciation for the entire process of food production and eating. In Nicaragua, they can practice their Spanish and work on healthy gardening with native people.”

Specialty camps have existed for a while now, but it was not until very recently that those specialties were linked to religious philosophy. Jewish specialty programs have sprung up in outdoor adventure, science, business and sports. Eifler says, “The idea of the traditional Jewish co-ed camp will always remain; but, for the teen who missed that experience or is just not a traditional camper, he can pursue an interest in science or business alongside a Jewish cohort and, simultaneously, understand things like how Jewish ethics inform business decisions.”

Every teen program director wants to go where “no man has ever been,” but has to balance that with parents’ concerns over safety. Rivers agrees, “Teen tour operators have responded with a wealth of more stringent security protocols to ensure that travel is safe for kids no matter how far or distinct. It is not uncommon to find teen programs that travel to Uganda or Vietnam. Eastern Europe has also become a major teen destination to countries like Croatia and the Czech Republic.”

Tips on Trips consultants have been advising parents for the last 43 years. They have U.S. regional offices in Maryland, Washington, D.C., New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Missouri, Illinois, California, and abroad in France and Barcelona. Parents can receive expert advice by telephone, email or in person.

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Carey Rivers
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