Here's how teens can have adventures, be useful, and boost their CV this summer

There's so much more to do, both in the UK and abroad, than stare at a screen. Lisa Salmon finds out more...

Monday, 24th June 2019, 5:34 pm
Updated Monday, 24th June 2019, 6:34 pm
Half of parents are concerned their child will waste the entire summer

Most parents of teenagers know how hard it can be to entertain them over the summer, especially in a productive way.

New research by National Citizen Service (NCS) has found half of parents are concerned their child will waste the entire summer. Meanwhile, 40% of teens admit they get bored over the long break, and more than half of them admit they'd like their summer to be more productive.

And there really is no excuse for wasting those (hopefully) balmy summer weeks, as there are many schemes on offer that aim to both entertain and educate young people, as well as helping prepare them for their future careers.

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Here's a selection of projects teenagers can choose to do:

1. NCS

How does it work?

The NCS (, which is open to all 16-17-year-olds living in England or Northern Ireland, is a two to four week scheme that runs during school holidays. The programme has four phases:

Phase 1: Adventure

This is five days away from home, doing outdoor activities like rock climbing, canoeing and archery.

Phase 2: Discovery

Living independently for a week, teenagers learn essential life skills from local business leaders and charities, and gain confidence in public speaking, communication skills and budgeting.

Phase 3: Social action

Back at home, teenagers join a team which will devise a community project based on an issue they feel passionate about.

Phase 4: Celebration

The last phase is for participants to take stock of all they've achieved, and celebrate triumphs with fellow NCSers.

The programme costs just £50 for all meals, accommodation and activities, with bursaries available.

How does it help young people?

NCS aims to help participants build confidence and resilience, develop new skills, make new friends and give back to their local community. Michael Lynas, NCS Trust CEO, says: "It's important that teens not only have a productive summer, but a fun one - especially after a stressful exam period at school. NCS provides them with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a shared adventure with new people, many of whom will become friends for life."

2. Duke of Edinburgh's Award

How does it work?

Young people aged between 14-24 can earn a Duke of Edinburgh's Award ( (DofE), equipping them for life and work. The latest 2018-19 figures show a 4.3% rise to 287,937 young people beginning the programme, and a 7.2% increase to 153,284 who achieved an Award.

DofE programmes are offered in over 10,000 DofE centres throughout the UK, including youth clubs, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, businesses and even homeless shelters .

There are four different DofE sections to complete at Bronze and Silver Award level and five at Gold Award level. Examples of some of the activities young people do to earn a DofE award include:

Volunteering - through community action, teaching, working with the environment and animals, or helping a charity.

Physical - through team and individual sports and fitness.

Skills - creative and performance arts, music, animal care, life skills, media and communications, science and technology.

Expedition - on foot or via transport including bicycle, boats or horses.

Residential (Gold level only) - activity based and featuring service to others, the environment and conservation.

To enrol, contact your local DofE Operating Authority via the DofE website.

How does it help young people?

David Oates, interim DofE chief executive, says: "The Duke of Edinburgh's Award can encourage young people to get outdoors and become more active, more confident, and more involved with their wider community.

"Summer is an ideal time for young people to consider starting a DofE programme and make use of the time away from school to try new activities, have fun, and enjoy their own space."

He stresses the Award leads to young people developing key skills including resilience, confidence and communication skills, while at the same time, making new friends, and memories that will last a lifetime.

"Ultimately, The Duke of Edinburgh's Award is ideal for filling the long days of summer while helping young people to build their skills for their future and the world of work," he adds.

3. Projects Abroad

How does it work?

Projects Abroad ( offers High School Specials tailor-made for 15-18 year olds, so they can experience life overseas and help disadvantaged communities. Projects centre on areas including conservation and the environment, medicine and healthcare, childcare , and building, in destinations throughout the world such as Nepal, Cambodia, Ghana, Sri Lanka and South Africa.

Teenagers are supported by in-country Projects Abroad staff, and the trips have fixed start and end dates. Projects include helping disadvantaged children and doing community work in Ghana, getting medical experience learning from doctors and nurses in Tanzania, and helping children learn through play and doing community renovation work in Vietnam.

Participants have to pay for their trip, and the price includes accommodation, food, travel and medical insurance, work placement transport, and training and support. It doesn't include flights and visa costs.

How does it help young people?

Emma Molloy, a project expert at Projects Abroad, says: "As university and job applications are getting more and more competitive, young people are beginning to realise they need more than just their grades to get by on, and that's where volunteering can play a really valuable role.

"By giving up some of your school break to take part in a volunteering project, you'll gain important life skills, and a variety of skills more specific to your project. These skills will make a fantastic addition to your CV and any job or university applications, and your volunteering experience will make for some good conversation points in interviews, as well as helping you stand out from the crowd."

Molloy points out that young people make many new friends from volunteering, but stresses: "The most important thing that volunteering as a young person allows you to do is make a real and meaningful difference to people living in developing countries.

"The work you'll be doing will contribute towards our longer-term goal of sustainable development in line with UN Goals, and you can feel safe in the knowledge that you're part of something incredibly worthwhile."

4. GVI

How does it work?

Global Vision International ( (GVI) volunteering abroad programmes for young adults aged 15 to 17 aim to provide cultural and language immersion, skills training, and adventure activities. Volunteering centres around areas including marine and wildlife conservation, teaching, childcare, healthcare, or construction. Examples of projects include constructing classrooms in Costa Rica, or assisting with reforestation and the recovery of original Inca terraces and irrigation troughs in Machu Picchu, Peru.

The trips have to be paid for by the participants - the Costa Rica program lasts two weeks and costs from £960 per week, and the two-week Peru program is from £923 per week.

How does it help young people?

"Volunteering abroad at a young age helps young adults gain a better understanding of the world, its problems and how they can be solved, and universities and employers see it as something that sets the individual apart from other applicants," says GVI.