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Sunday, July 21, 2024

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Summer Activities for Teens

Summer Activities for Teens

By Amy Patsch

Amy Patsch
Amy Patsch

Oh blessed glorious summer! What a sweet time of the year. The sun is high and the days are long and we live at the beach! What could possibly be better than that?

After many years of working at times two jobs to be able to purchase our home in Ocean City my husband, Neil, and I are finally reaping the benefits of being able to bike during the sunny days or choose to read on the rainy days because we are now both retired. 

I remember the days of being very jealous as I saw visitors heading out on their bikes to enjoy breakfast and a day of sunshine while I was driving to work. For eleven years I was blessed to work in Ocean City where I could either ride my bike to work or zip home on lunch hour, change, jump on my bike and get a good ride in before reversing the process and heading back to work. Truly it is the good life.

Being able to enjoy where we live in this beautiful county means a lot to each of us. Many of us moved here but many of us were born and raised here. Either way, home is where our heart is.

As I was enjoying my daily walk viewing the abundant flowers and breathing in the fresh air I was noticing how I seldom see the teens out and about during the day although I often pass a playground with basketball courts which is generally full of younger children and their parents.

I am hoping, as when I was a youth, that many of our teenagers are working at the local businesses for the summer. There is a lot of work to be had in our own backyard as proven by the many students arriving from Europe to fill summer jobs.

Not one of us has missed the media coverage that suggests our area teens could use some wholesome activities to engage their time and that led me to consider what opportunities are available locally.

My mother, an avid volunteer, trained me well. Before I was old enough to work I was volunteering in our local hospital as a candy striper – a job now long gone. It was a great experience during which I learned the nuances of the working world. Because of that opportunity I sought my first full-time job at that same hospital and worked there for five years before moving on. 

The opportunity to volunteer time in the summer with various organizations is a way for our teenagers to learn to appreciate their role in life by helping those less fortunate than themselves. Cape May County has a webpage listing such opportunities and parents and teens can view openings at https://capemaycountynj.gov/174/Volunteer. I can safely say that it is much better to encourage our teens to become happy, productive, volunteers rather than having them ordered to find such work by the juvenile court system.   

Volunteering can lead to a career choice such as becoming a volunteer at the zoo did for my niece. She found that she loved working with animals and decided to work summers at the local zoo while getting her college degree. After working for smaller zoos she moved up to the large Houston Texas Zoo where, while on a special visit, she met her hero, Jane Goodall. What a thrill for her and it is possible something like that may be in store for your teen as well.

If not the zoo how about animal-loving teens volunteering at the local animal shelters?

Remember 4-H clubs? Well, Cape May County has a great 4-H program and it can also use volunteers. The 4-H fair is coming up and it is always an enjoyable outing to attend with music, exhibits and food.

Matching a volunteer to their perfect job is like finding gift money for any organization. The joy that comes from being a volunteer is something that stays in your heart long after you have left the job for the day. It doesn’t matter whether it is a human or an animal that you cared for, you have touched a life for good that dearly needed a human’s touch.

If your young visitors are here for only a week or two on vacation there are also available opportunities for safe Christian fun at the shore through Cape May County FCA who provides skate, surf, and power camps this year. Check the dates online: https://search.fcacamps.org.

I encourage both young and old to seek the joy of volunteering. Sharing our free hours with others benefits both us and those receiving our services. Volunteering gives us a joyful heart and the Bible tells us that a joyful heart is good medicine.

ED. NOTE: Amy Patsch writes from Ocean City. Email her at writerGoodGod@gmail.com.

Columnist

Amy Patsch writes religious and faith-based opinion content for the Cape May County Herald.

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