Stephanie is a sophomore in high school residing in suburban New Jersey. She loves free-writing and dreams of traveling the world.
We’re well into the Summer of 2009:
The days are hot, The nights are long, And the ocean waves are cool and strong. (Sorry. I was never good at poetry. But that’s besides the point.)
The point is, with a great year like this, teenagers are not about to let an economic recession ruin their summer fun.
Ever since the recession, families have had to cut down on spending, especially when it came down to vacations or planning summer getaways. Driving becomes a pain when gas prices are sky-high, so road trips have become tough to finance, too. Many friends and family members of mine have decided to skip the fancy vacations and instead keep their summer plans local and affordable. How is this possible, you ask?
Go to the beach with a group of friends. Check out your neighborhood pool (or relax in your own if you’re lucky enough to own one!). Visit an amusement or water park for a day. Invite some kids over to have dessert at the local diner, then crash at your place. Want to get a little adventurous? You can always go on a hike, or plan to go parasailing with a buddy. Throw a few well-planned house parties if your parents allow it. It’s so easy to find things to do with friends without going over your budget.
Still finding yourself short of extra cash? No worries. Nothing’s better than saving up with money earned from a summer job. Plenty of my friends have found daytime jobs at restaurants, farms, bakeries, supermarkets, clothing stores, and offices. I know of teens that have even taken to starting their own businesses! Some find it exciting to shadow their own parents at work and gain insight into the business world as well as work experience. Volunteering is also an option that teens are considering as a summer activity. I myself have gotten involved with my town’s local animal shelter, spending time with abandoned animals and helping to raise money for needed supplies. One of my close friends is currently volunteering at a soup kitchen – she absolutely loves it! Volunteering is that special kind of work that gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment, as well as peace of mind knowing that through hard effort you’ve managed to better your community. Not to mention, it looks great on your resume! (Plus, come September you’ll have something to brag about to your new teacher. Cough cough.)
Plenty of teenagers are willing to work and stay close to home during their summer break, but others are still itching to hop on a plane or drive down somewhere exotic for the vacation of their lives. I’ve noticed that teenagers are now more frequently going on vacations together and splitting the costs. Renting vacation homes and booking cruises are popular, especially since you can find some cheap deals with both options. Even though you only have to pay half the price, you’re learning to spend your money wisely which is totally boosting your financial responsibility. Isn’t it more exciting to learn about managing your finances during vacation-time rather than in a boring accounting class at school, anyway?
Before I wrap up, I think it’s important to mention how much of a role technology is playing this summer, too. The internet is HUGE this year. So many websites became popular with teenagers – obviously the more widely-known social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter – but some surprising winners were found in websites like FML.com and textsfromlastnight.com. I can assure you that if teens aren’t hanging out with friends or lying out under some umbrella on the beach, you can bet they’re typing away to their friends on AIM or updating their MySpace status. Looks like being tech-savvy can come in hand! Okay, so Summer 2009 has been influenced by our nation’s economic state – but not completely revolutionized. Teens are still into having a good time and aren’t about to give that desire up just because money may be a little tight. To all my fellow peers who are looking to make the best of what’s left of our break: enjoy the heat, stay smart with your cash and take the opportunity of making this your best summer yet. Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen.