Just for Youth: Make the Most of Summer Break

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Just for Youth

Make the Most of Summer Break

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For most teens one of the most eagerly anticipated times of the year is summer break: an extended recess from school!

Millions of young people will burst out of school, celebrating a reprieve from classes, books and homework assignments and an opportunity to rest, recharge batteries and enjoy a change of pace. They will eagerly look forward to precious time off.

But time off to do what?

Those of you who will get out of school for summer break, do you have anything planned, or will you just let the time happen?

To have a profitable summer, you need to plan your time creatively. Use this time off from school. Make it an experience worth remembering. Don't take a long break and then wake up at the end of it wondering where all that time went!

So how do you plan your summer? What can you do to get the most out of it? Here are some steps you can take to make your coming break both productive and profitable.

Make the most of your time

Take advantage of opportunities. This coming break is a good time to catch up on all the things you've been wanting to do but haven't managed to get to yet. Visit a museum or art gallery. Take short trips to visit parks and attractions in your town or within a few hours' drive.

If you've always wanted to go to a particular summer camp (provided it is affordable), make this the time that you finally go. Perhaps visit some colleges you're considering attending.

Try some new experiences. Visit a national park near where you live. Go canoeing or white-water rafting. Learn to swim (preferably before you go white-water rafting!). Organize a family trip, picnic or some other activity.

Set a goal for the next year. What do you want to be good at a year from now? Do you want to be the best shooter on your basketball team? If so, you'd better start practicing. Maybe you want to be the best dribbler. Again, start practicing.

A teenage girl who is a friend of ours wanted to learn to sew, so she came to my wife for help in getting started. She and my wife spent several afternoons together, and in a few weeks she was wearing a dress she had made. She wanted to learn a skill, so she set to work on it.

So set a goal for yourself-something you'd like to be good at-and get to work on it.

No break for your brain

Don't give your brain the summer off. Keep your mind active. Use this time to grow and develop.

How many of you have heard (or said) the words, "There's nothing to do here"? Young people have been saying that for years. I know my parents heard it a few times from my brothers and me, and I've heard that complaint from young people everywhere I've ever lived. I heard it when I lived in a small town in Texas. Even when I lived in the Los Angeles basin, the entertainment capital of the world, young people were complaining, "But there's nothing to do!"

There's always something you can do. You don't have to be bored. Here's a list of several things you can do to keep your brain active and develop your talents effectively:

Get a head start on school next year. If you know you'll be taking a history course next school year, read one or two history books this summer. If you know you'll be taking a course in English literature, read some Shakespeare or Dickens. If you know you'll be taking a class in geography, get an atlas and start looking up all the places that are mentioned on the news each evening or read several travel books. Don't vegetate in front of the television. After all, there's usually nothing on but reruns anyway.

Get into the library habit. This is one of the best things you can do to educate yourself. With books you can travel around the world right from your house. You can travel through time-back into history or even into the future-from your own room. You can meet all kinds of interesting people, experience all kinds of things this summer, through books.

Reading is a great habit that will serve you well throughout your life. Read widely; try a variety of books and magazines. This summer why not make it a goal to read some of the other articles in The Good News or some of the booklets we offer free. You'll find out lots of interesting things about one of the most fascinating books ever written-the Bible!

Develop a hobby or other special interest. This is a great way to keep your brain from taking the summer off. If there's something you're interested in, follow through on that interest and learn more about it. It could be just about anything: painting, drawing, photography, writing, computers, woodworking, gardening, making models, collecting or reading on a particular topic. You'll find it's a great way to pass the time, keep your mind in gear and develop your own talents and abilities.

Start earning money

Get a job. Part of maturing and preparing for adulthood is learning responsibility. There's no such thing as summer vacation once you get out of high school. It will then be a thing of the past. Adulthood is going to be here before you know it.

Why should you get a job? There are many reasons. I know one teen who took a summer job working at a fast-food establishment so she could make money to go to a summer camp in a faraway state where she would meets lots of new friends, learn new skills and try new experiences.

Young people need to learn to prepare financially for the future. Start earning and setting aside some money. Many opportunities are available if you look: mowing lawns, baby-sitting, movie theaters, restaurants and fast-food establishments and all kinds of stores that need help.

One teen I know got a summer job picking up trash along the highways for the state highway department. He learned something important from that experience: that he wanted to go to college so he wouldn't be doing something like picking up trash along a highway for the rest of his life!

That leads to an important point: Begin preparing for your college education. A college education is expensive; it can cost between $20,000 and $100,000 for a four-year degree.

That's a lot of money. But consider that the alternative is a lot more expensive!

Studies show that a college graduate will, on average, earn about double the amount someone without a college education would earn over the course of a lifetime. With a high-school education you may earn $20,000 a year for the rest of your life, but your friends with college degrees will earn about $40,000 a year.

Even after taking four or five years to earn a college degree, someone with a college education will still earn about double over the course of a lifetime what someone without a college education would. Which would you prefer?

Obviously many of you reading this will be too young to get a summer job to earn money, so what can you do? If you're too young to get a job, make it your job to help your parents or perhaps a neighbor in need. Ask what you can do to help. Maybe it will be taking care of the lawn chores. Maybe you could clean out the basement and garage and keep them clean and tidy. Perhaps you could help out in the garden. Maybe there are some special projects that your parents have been wanting to do but haven't had the time to get to.

So help them out this summer. Make it your job to help build your family, to do things together with your parents, brothers and sisters.

Practical advice

My wife is always telling me that I'm not as young as I once was and that I'm getting a nice, gray "extinguished look." There's a scripture that makes this same point: We're all going to grow older, and we should make the most of our time while we are young.

Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 advises young people: "Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment. So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigour are meaningless" (New International Version). Or, as another version puts it, "childhood and the prime of life are fleeting" (New American Standard Bible).

The point King Solomon is making is that youth is a time to be enjoyed. It is a time to be happy, to try new things and new experiences and to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. But we are to try the right kind of experiences-those that will create lasting positive memories. He reminds us that we will all be judged for what we do, and, if we waste our time in senseless or immature acts or behavior that violates God's laws and principles, we will suffer the consequences.

Youth is a time to be enjoyed, but it is also a time that will inevitably pass all too soon. You're going to take all your experiences, whether good or bad, with you as you grow up and mature. Take advantage of those opportunities so you have lots of fun with plenty of good memories and experiences to take with you. You are young only once, so make the most of your youth.

Put some of these things into practice. Don't let this time just happen. Plan your time. Use your time. And make this summer one of the best, most productive times of your life. GN