In Part I of this thread, I gave some very specific questions and criteria to consider when evaluating a summer program for high school student. However, in this post I’m going to go abstract.
Let me back up and explain. Last week GLA started attending these yearly “Summer Opportunity Fairs” held by high schools around the country. As we stood there looking at all the options, we realized that the average family would probably find it difficult to distinguish between the quality of the organizations just by looking at them. Most likely, families will judge by the catalog they pick up rather than the quality of the program.
However, after speaking with organizations extensively and from my experience working in the field, I know that not all programs are the same. There is a wide variety of programs – from “fun in the sun” to “teen adventure” to “Caribbean sailing” to “community service and global issues” (the last one is Global Leadership Adventures). But it’s a bit disturbing to see how organizations are just throwing token community service into every program just because students are now required to earn community service hours for their school.
So, my tip for selecting a summer program is this: don’t just read the words of a catalog, don’t just scan the page for “community service” and assume that’s what is really being offered —- instead, “read” the imagery, read the subtext of what is being said through the photos, the structure of the program, the type of staff — what are the communicating on all levels. And is this what is right for your student?
Some teenagers are genuinely not emotionally mature enough to handle certain types of programs and may thrive in more of a light-hearted, fun-focused environment. While others are ready to be pushed outside of their comfort zone and be challenged to think deeply about what it means to be a global citizen in a world of poverty, epidemics and other global challenges.