Last Updated on September 29, 2023 by Sarah McCubbin
Summer is a great time for teens (or anyone really) to improve people skills…really!! In this article, let’s talk about 10 different summer activities for teens that are perfect for meeting new people and spending time in an engaged way. In other words…you get to meet them and get to know them! Perfect! Let’s do this!
One of the biggest social challenges for teens during the school year is simply the fact that they and everyone else is locked into a pretty consistent routine. If your teen goes to school like some of mine, then their day is pretty set from 7am to 3pm. Maybe they do sports or other activities in the evening, but otherwise, for 9 months out of the year, the schedule is inflexible.
I your teen is homeschooled, their schedule is more flexible, but a lot of extracurricular activities are scheduled for a semester or a year at a time, so its hard to pop in and try something new.
This is probably the #1 reason summer is so great. There are TONS of opportunities in the summer to meet and interact with people that are designed to be very short term in nature…like a week or less! Summer is a great way to try several new things…and meet several different groups of people which increases your chances of really connecting with a few people you like!
Here are 10 Summer Activities for Teens to Improve Social Skills
1. Volunteer in the Community
Volunteering can be a great way for teens to improve social skills while giving back to the community. It provides opportunities to interact with people from different backgrounds and learn new skills. My kids have enjoyed volunteering at summer day camps, on building projects. They have volunteered with groups from school and church and for local organizations in the community.
To find a place to volunteer, start by choosing a cause you want to support. Then call the organization and ask about volunteer opportunities. Sometimes organizations schedule “work days” to bring in a lot of volunteers at one time which is a great way to meet new people and practice asking good questions.
2. Attend summer camps
Summer camps provide a fun and interactive environment where teens can engage in team-building activities, outdoor adventures, and learn new skills. My teens have attended a variety of summer camps including church camp, science camps and leadership camps.
One of the best things about camps is that they generally have a narrow focus depending on the theme of the camp. When my kids attend Worldview Academy camps, they love the intense focus on understanding the world through a lense of understanding someone’s worldview. They meet other students from around the state and look forward to reconnecting with the same kids every summer.
Science camps are an example of a subject based camp that are great for meeting people with similar interests and abilities. There are all kinds of subject based camps…art, drama, sports, history and more. Doing a subject-based camp will let you meet others who love that topic as much as you and it will be easy to talk about something you already love.
3. Join a sports team
Joining a sports team can help teens develop teamwork, communication, and leadership skills. It also provides opportunities to make new friends.
Depending on where you live, you can join different summer sports leagues or camps that are perfect for getting physical activity and meeting new people.
Social Skills Tip: It it is easier to talk to people if you are doing something together. If your hands are busy (working, playing a sport, doing an activity etc) then the awkward pauses in conversation don’t feel awkward because you are still busy. Every second doesn’t have to be filled with words.
4. Take A Unique or Interesting Class
Taking a class in a subject of interest, such as cooking or art, can provide opportunities to meet new people and develop new skills. During the summer is a great time to take a class in something you love because it doesn’t conflict with a heavy school load. It also allows you to meet other people who enjoy the same topic.
Skills Tip: It is easier to talk to people who share similar interests as you. When you first begin practicing social skills, the EASIEST place to do that is with people who share the same interests.
5. Join A Club In An Area of Interest
Joining a club or organization, such as a book club or a chess club, can provide opportunities for socializing and learning. Summer is a great time to join a club organizations will often offer discounted summer rates or short term programs that let you get a small taste of what their full program is like.
If you love their summer program, you may want to arrange your schedule to spend time with this group year round.
6. Participate in Community Events
Participating in community events, such as festivals or parades, can provide opportunities to interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Community events will let almost anyone participate. To find your community events, check out your town’s Facebook page or website. In my small town, we have an Apple Cider Festival (with contests, booths, and a parade), a Farm market, music in the park and more.
If your town has events that are interesting to your, contact the organizer to see how you can particpate. Events are run by people and they can always use more hands. Doing these kinds of activities lets you meet people from your own town. They will be old and young and everything in between. Community activities will help you connect with other great opportunities in your own area.
7. Get a Summer Job
Getting a summer job is probably one of my favorite summer activities for teens and ways to build social skills. As someone who has always struggled socially, I love what jobs do for your confidence. First, they automate many conversations. We say the same things over and over on the job as we repeat tasks. Second, jobs tend to treat teens more like adults than the school environment. They expect you to act responsibly or you won’t have a job.
Because of these reasons (and more) a job can be an excellent way to improve your social skills….and earn extra money at the same time!
8. Attend a Leadership Program
Leadership programs provide opportunities for teens to develop leadership skills, build confidence, and learn to work effectively in teams. A leadership program can look like a club, a camp or even a work experience. I highly recommend looking at your summer activities to see which ones develop leadership skills.
When we look at people who are amazing leaders, we see who they are today. But leadership qualities are practiced and developed over time.
Some places to find leadership programs are local Kiwanis clubs, camps, 4-H, and organizations like Worldview Academy and Teen Pact.
9. Join a Summer Exchange or Cultural Immersion Program
This could look like an exchange trip through an organization or doing a mission trip or service trip in our outside the country. Aside from learning about other cultures, these trips are great for practicing social skills.
I remember going on trips like this in high school and college. Before we went, we had to learn the culture of the country so we didn’t accidentally do things that were inappropriate in that cultures. As a teen who was more aware of myself than anyone else, I remember having my eyes opened to the ways other people might perceive me if I visited their country and just said and did whatever was acceptible in America. That of course translated into my understanding of culture inside America when I realized that we have many cultures in our own country and being aware of that is important to people.
10. Plan a Social Event
Planning a social event, such as a picnic or a beach day, can provide opportunities for teens to practice communication, organization, and teamwork skills while having fun with friends. In general, I have found that it works the best to organize a group activity for a group of people that know each other. In other words, plan a beach day for the youth group. Or plan a day at the theme park for a sports team.
Plan Your Summer Activities for Teens Intentionally to Work on Social Skills
The problem with social skills is that we often expect people learn them passively. We expect that most people will eventually pick up nuances in how to interact with people well. But some of us (ahem…me!!) never seemed to learn that way. If you can relate to constantly feeling like an outsider, struggling in groups and wanting to feel more connected to people, then I invite you to decide to make practicing social skills an intentional activity.
What Can You Do If Your Teen Doesn’t Want to Work On Social Skills?
Ok, let’s be honest, if you can see that your teen is struggling socially, it is not likely they will accept your invitation to work on social skills this summer! Not gonna happen right! Not to worry. As parents, we can often see down the road and see what our kids need before they do. It is our job to put the resources in their path to help them pivot in the right direction.
One of the BEST ways to do this is by offering to help them access an opportunity that they would LOVE to do with a social component. That might mean prioritizing driving them to work, or paying for an amazing camp or researching volunteer opportunities. If have found my kids more willing to step out of their comfort zone if there is an adventure side to the experience. Do they get to travel somewhere new? Will they need a new wardrobe? Will they be earning money or meeting amazing people? All of those are great motivators to do something that will stretch someone socially.
I’m not going to lie, with several of my kids, I’ve had to heavily bribe them to go do the first adventurous thing…but after the first time, they are all in. They are ready to pay part or all of their own way to make it happen again and again. And they come back every time ready to talk about all the things they have learned and the people they got to meet!!
So whether your teen is ready to learn new social skills…or you just want to help them in that direction, summer is a great time for teens to improve social skills!
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More Great Summer Ideas!
Are you looking for more summer inspiration to keep your kids busy and engaged this summer! Check out these articles below for lots of great ideas!