Need Ideas to Keep a 15 Yr Old Boy Busy All Summer

Updated on May 23, 2014
S.T. asks from Huntington, NY
35 answers

My son turns 15 at the end of July. There's not an employer in my area that will hire anyone under 16. We will be in and out of town alot so having him work as a camp counselor isn't an option since our schedule this Summer includes a few long out of town family obligation weekends, taking sister to college in early August, etc. But for the many days we will be here I need to keep him busy and out of trouble.

I am wracking my brain to come up with something that won't cost us a fortune. Does anyone have any ideas?

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So What Happened?

i didn't go into too much detail - but he does volunteer at our church VBS and basketball camp - so ithat's 2 weeks. We have a youth week at church so that's another week. We'll be on vacation another week - so that leaves 6 weeks to keep him busy. We live in a strange suburban area where the YMCA camps cost a small fortune, the rec department camps are miles away (not within a bicycle ride), and the neighbors use landscapers or have their own kids to do the year work. He already does help at a food pantry - but they often have more help than they know what to do with and have maybe an hour here and there where they need teens. I work during the day so it needs to be soemthing he can get to and from on his own. He has chores that he has to do - (the lawn, the kitchen floor, the dishwasher)
He's a good kid and I don't need to keep him "out of trouble" specifically -just hate to know that he's sitting on his computer all day. His burning interest is computers - he's in classes at the high school now - but so far I can't find anyone who'll take him on at work on a afree intern basis. My husband's a cop so he can't bring him to work and I work in the insurance industry which is even boring to me!

I think I'll have him paint the wrought iron around the house and help out a few olda ladies we know. Thanks mamas.

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answers from Chattanooga on

Maybe you could print up some flyers and have him tuck them into mailboxes, offering his services as a lawn mower, with reasonable rates. (Think at least $5 cheaper than a mowing service, but enough to show some profit after paying for gas)

Keep him busy, teach him to work, and get him some cash. Win-win. :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

I made my daughter get a summer job from the time she was 14. It didn't have to be with a commercial employer. She babysat, weeded neighbors' flowerbeds, etc. She also did Volunteens one summer.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I'd find a volunteer thing for him. My kids and I all worked at a food bank. It was great experience for them, and it meant a lot to me too.

15 year old boys can do manual labor - it's good for 'em!! My kids unloaded trucks, loaded food, helped the people who were placing the food, etc. AND my kids got to see the people they were helping.

Try something like this.

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Houston on

Volunteer at an animal shelter. Volunteer work anywhere for that matter.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Buy him a lawnmower and let him hire himself out to the neighbors--I'd love to pay a neighbor kid to do my lawn, rather than the crew that comes from 2 suburbs away to do it. We have a 1/3 acre, typical suburban lot, and pay about $27/cut. He could make some good money, as well as learn much about work ethic, delayed gratification, and responsibility, while staying out of trouble.

Let him attend DIY classes at Home Depot--I'd LOVE to know how to tile.

Challenge him to read a great book series & give him a financial incentive for doing it. Make it one you've read, or read it along with him so you can discuss it with him.

Visit nursing home residents.

Look into the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.

Need your house painted? Landscaping done? Live-in laborers are wonderful! ;-)

I have a 27 year old brother who has a disability that keeps him from working right now, but he lives with my parents and he's agreed to help them purge items in their house this summer so they can get to work on long overdo home remodeling.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Muncie on

Neighborhood lawn care and handy man? He can go door to door in your area and offer to mow and do odd jobs.

Local YMCA summer program? Volunteer work at a local charity?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

At 15, this would be a good time to do some volunteer work. If he is in NHS (National Honor Society) he has to volunteer so many hours per semester and these hours need to be signed off as well.

Also, volunteer hours and community service will help on his college resume.

My 19 yr old daughter always and still does a lot of child care. She's also on my payroll and shadows me with our company so she can better understand bookkeeping and running a business.

We do have a 15 yr old neighbor boy who helps my husband in our yard. We have a very large lot and we are constantly doing things such as laying new sod, putting out more dirt.. This boy helps us a lot and we pay him a minimum of $10 an hour plus a tip.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Volunteer at a senior center/ food bank/ library.
Do lawn work
strip, sand, prime, and repaint outdoor furniture.
clear the garage to the bones, and give it a good cleaning/ attic/ storage areas.
Ride his bike to the beach and spend the day there, with a bit of pocket money for lunch.
archive household bills (scan and upload into folders), shred originals.
get him a grilling book. have him bike to the grocery store, buy ingredients, make the marinades, and cook dinner for you, and clean the grill.
knit sweaters for penguins
tutor a neighborhood kid

F. B.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Could your son post flyers in the neighborhood for basic services, like dog-walking or lawn mowing or other simple odd jobs he is capable of? Having these 'appointments' made for when he is in town could help his bank account, his confidence in working/negotiating with others, and he could have a chance to establish himself with known neighbors as a good, hard worker, something which means something as a reference when he does become old enough to work.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

my older, when he was 15, started a yard-work business (with a 16 year old friend so they could drive to jobs.) they also worked for local farmers baling hay etc.
my younger wasn't that motivated (and has awful allergies) but stayed busy volunteering and hanging out with his homeschool compadres.
i miss teenagers.
:) khairete

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Mow the lawn.
Pull weeds.
Do the laundry.
Vacuum the house.
Mop the floors.
Pressure wash the driveway.
Clean the exterior windows (first floor only)
Walk the dog.
Give the dog a bath.
Read 3 novels of his choice.
Do an online SAT prep class.
Get his driver's manual and learn it front to back.
Baby sit a neighbor kid so their mom can go to the grocery store alone.
Mow an elderly person's yard.
Invite a friend over.
Make a dinner menu and help shop for it, then cook it.
Clean/ready the grill to grill out dinner.
Take out the trash.
Deep clean his room/closet.

Does this help?
My son is 15 now and turns 16 this summer.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

Volunteer at a soup kitchen, food pantry, homeless shelter, nursing home ...

Are you at all active in a church? The churches in our area all have Vacation Bible School and love having high school students help. The kids really look up to them.

There are many summer camps that could use CIT's (Counselor in Training). At some camps CIT's are charged a small fee, but usually smaller than what the camper's pay. Some camps use them as junior counselors.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters can often use volunteers for their summer programs.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If you will be around for as long as a whole Monday to Friday week at a time, you may find that there are indeed camps where he could be a counselor (unpaid--don't expect pay for camp counseling at his age).

Not all camps are all summer long, so have you looked for one- or two-week camps that might need counselors? Some camps do expect teen counselors to be signed up already by this time of year and to do some training in advance (our Girl Scout camp's training involves about two evening meetings in spring and a full-day Saturday the week before the camp for instance). But don't rule out camps just because you're traveling much of the time. You do need to look ASAP if you think camp counseling is an option. Involve him in the search!

You mention that no one will hire a kid under 16 in your area but think outside the box of employment. Some volunteer organizations will accept younger teen volunteers:

Your local library may have a "summer library page" program where kids act as pages, doing everything from signing kids up for the summer reading programs to shelving books to helping run events or used book sales. This is unpaid but looks great on a "resume" when high school clubs ask you what you've done for community service.

Do you have a church, synagogue or other place of worship? Does it need the grass cut, or painting done somewhere, etc.? Does it run a summer program of any kind, vacation Bible school or summer Hebrew school or whatever? Those programs actually usually like the idea of teen boys helping because they want good role models for the younger boys who attend.

In our area, there are web sites with tons of volunteer opportunity listings, and you could look online for those open to kids his age. If one looks really interesting to him, and it says it's for older teens, have him call anyway and express how interested he is -- they might be short on volunteers and find a place for him.

See if your town or county government has volunteer programs in summer for teens. The parks department in my hometown did that.

Do you have needs around your own home? This summer, my 13-year-old will be earning money from me doing some big tasks that are outside the usual week to week chores. The pantry needs a huge clear-out, the linen closet needs total clear-out and repaint inside -- lots more. Can you work out a list of chores that are beyond the usual and are you willing to pay him pretty well for them?

He could also start a business over the summer, mowing lawns or (if everyone in your area has a lawn service, which some folks just do) washing cars. He can spend some time at the start making flyers, e-mailing neighbors, circulating information. Good experience.

Is there a specific reason you say you need to keep him "out of trouble" or do you just mean that as an expression--?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

If your son is interested in computers, MIT offers a ton of free online courses. Your son can follow his interests, at his own pace with no cost to you.

BTW, I have a lot of "fun" summer activities planned for my 12 year old daughter. Do you know what she's looking forward to the most? "My days with absolutely nothing to do." There is something valuable about stretches of unstructured free time with no responsibilities. They pass all too quickly!

SAHM of 5
14, 12, 6, 4 & 2

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Food pantry
Babysitting jobs
Mowing lawns
Pool pass for the local pool
Take some summer classes at the local community college
Enroll in a theater program most park district have a summer stage program
Park district also usually have a lot of 1week summer camp options with a really diverse group of interests (space, physics, science, theater etc)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

How many neighbors do you have and does anyone need a dog walked, lawn mowed, etc? Or you could sic him on cleaning your own garage. If he isn't attending camp as a counselor, are there any summer camps he might go to? In our area, there are summer camps through park and rec that are about a week long and most are only day camps (not overnight). You can also ask friends if they need help at their offices, perhaps in a field in which he has interest. Kind of an internship.

I also like the volunteer idea. Our area requires service hours for graduation, and summer is a great time to earn them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I don't remember my mom ever planning out my summer while growing up.

We had occasional outings together but the rest of the time was given to roam free. Kids need more of that..especially nowadays when it seems like every moment is scheduled for them or they are plugged into the computer and phone. The world is not as scary as the news portrays. Kids can still have freedom to run,play and explore the world around them. Not every moment needs to be supervised and occupied.

Let him make a list of the things he wants to do and help him make it happen.

I love to see my kids take their chore money and head off for the day with their friends. They check back in every few hours, grab a drink or use the restroom then off again.

Freedom does not always mean they will get into trouble. It sounds like you are raising an incredibly charitable and hard working young man. He will do well M..

Our local Regal Theatre hosts $1.00 movie days. He can go with friends or be a "mother's helper" by chaperoning some kids to the movie theatre and make a few bucks for babysitting.

Pool pass is great. I spent many summers at the pool with friends. We got away from the tv, we were unchaperoned yet there were lifeguards and got lots of exercise while building swimming skill.

Have a super summer!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

When I was 15, I spent the summer at the public pool. When it rained, I watched bad TV with friends. That was back when MTV just played videos. We'd watch hours of them, and eat lots of Kraft Mac and cheese. ..To do nothing again!

How about letting him figure out what he wants to do? Maybe doing nothing is what he should be doing? Just a thought. You only have long summers when you are a kid. And I'm a big believer in letting kids get in trouble during high school, so that when they go off to college, they don't fail out because they don't know how to make good choices.

I remember one summer we played the same monopoly game every day, for weeks on end. Some days we only played for 2 minutes, others two hours.

When my brother was 15, he spent days on end playing dungeons and dragons. I'm sure your son has comparable computer games he likes. At our mall the teens can get together in a game shop and play games together. That's fairly harmless fun.

I'm sure you got my point: I guess Theresa and I agree on something, just let the kid play the xbox and enjoy his youth!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Me too!
Have him wash the siding of the house.
A power washer and a scrub brush with a long handle will get the mold/mildew off the northern side of the house and make it look like new.
Our son did this last year as well as keep the cars washed/vacuumed and wash the front/back porches.
Mine will be painting the wrought iron railings outside and cleaning the garage.
He'll also have a few weeks archery camp (mornings).
We'll head to the beach a few early mornings (we leave when it starts getting crowded).
We planted a few trees so one of his jobs will to make sure they are watered every few days.
He needs to read through the DMV book and get his learners permit.
He can help me picking sugar snap peas, tomatoes and beans in the garden and keep the garden beds weeded.
We'll probably go visit my Mom for a week.
I'm cleaning out closets and our library and he helps me take things to donate.
Our neighbor has a lot of brush to clear/burn and our son loves to help with that.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Can he not stay home during these long weekends? He is old enough that a job is the prefect way for him to spend his summer. My nephews work for a local farmer and they know that the job means that when mom and dad go out of town that they will have to stay behind and fulfill their obligation to their employer.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

He's too old to attend YMCA camp anyway, but why not have him volunteer at the YMCA, or at least get him a membership so he can hang out there? Do busses run where you live? Get him a bus pass if camps are too far to ride his bike to. What are his friends doing?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

Can he do Driver's Ed or an online class for credit? That could put him ahead for next year.

Otherwise I'd let him figure it out (since he sounds like a good kid)!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Check with your local rec center for week-long camps for your son. Our local rec center has camps for older kids. Rec center prices are usually reasonable, so hopefully you can find him a week of camp here and there throughout the summer. Also, he can volunteer at a vet! My 10 y/o is dying to do that!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

It is a tough age. My daughter was 15 last summer and volunteered at a theatre camp. They were thrilled to have her.

This summer, she is taking 2 classes required for graduation at her HS. She wants to get them out of the way so she can take more electives during the school year.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Daily chore list! But what is wrong with hanging with friends, pool. etc?

Mama's helper for a stay home mom, or a small home daycare.

What about caddy? We can do thatt at 15 here. They carry the bags for the golfers.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

-How about working in the neighborhood to make money?
-He can post signs (make them look as professional as poss) to:
*shovel rock if needed
*wash their cars
*paint their house numbers on the curb
*weed eat
*pull major weeds
*trim back bushes, low hanging branches etc.

*See if any of your friends are willing to have him pick up their groceries.
He'd be armed with their list & you'll have to drive him there.

*Call your local community sports for kids (the advertisement signs will
list an email address) & have him offer to help set up, fetch balls from
the field like soccer balls, load up the equipment etc. Fun-ish & it's

*Call your local newspaper to see if he could deliver the paper?

*Do you have any family that live nearby? Would they be willing to "hire"
him for yard clean up, grocery "getting" etc.?

*If he's at all artistic, you could call nearby local stores to see if they'd hire him to paint their advertisements on their windows.

*Maybe some senior neighbors need some minor things picked up (library books, over the counter meds, magazines, Readers Digest etc.).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I didn't read all of the other answers but my suggestion is to use his interest in computers productively. There are online courses he could take. Computer programming/coding, game design, how to start your own business. Our local small business development center has a youth entrepreneur program. The public library would also probably have online resources. See what he is interested in doing and let him come up with a plan.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I had a part time weekend job, but I spent most of the summer hanging out with friends at the public pool. I think it was a great way to spend summers. His years of long lazy summers will be over soon enough. Let him hang out with his friends.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Do you have a senior citizens center by you? I bet they could use all kinds of help.

My grandma, e retired school teacher, used to read/record books for the blind. There was a center not far from us and she would go at least 2x weekly.

What about a Veterans Home?

As others have said, the library is a good resource too. Ours is looking for volunteers.

What about washing trucks at the fire department? Our let's kids do that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

What about a local animal shelter? He could volunteer there

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Volunteer at a hospital or animal shelter. If he wants to do something, where there is a will there is a way.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Here a child age 14, turning 15 in July would go to a teen camp. Field trip daily. Not cheap, but better than TV or computer all day.

Heck, I'd drive way out of my way to do that. You don't come back until 4 or 6pm (late pick-up) so it's not so bad back and forth or anything.

You can sign up by the week, too. One full-time working adult would be able to cover the costs. A week is generally between $100-200 depending where you go. It's a good investment in the child.

At that age I read from dawn until dark, until my eyes hurt.
But I think keeping kids away from the screens is a good idea, and do what you can to keep him busy.



answers from Abilene on

If you have a hospital he can volunteer there too. My daughter volunteers at the SPCA and there are some vets who accept volunteers.

Sounds like you've got a handle on what to do. Enjoy summer and don't forget to keep a log of volunteer hours (food bank and helping the elderly) as colleges like to see lots of volunteer hours. ;)




answers from Tampa on

I agree with Momma W. My mom never had any structured plans for us as a kid during the summer months. She was a stay at home mom like myself. Summers were the best times of my life. I remember heading to the beach or the community pool. I'm sure I went to friend's houses. I remember BBQ's and vacations to the Cape.

I know how you feel because I do struggle every year at this time, trying to figure out how to entertain my 3 kids. We don't have a pool, but we are less than a mile from the beach. In Florida, it's hot and muggy, so the kids would rather be indoors. I usually try to plan outings with a friend or two.One time we went to the YMCA to swim. I take the kids to different libraries in the area. they have many programs for kids and teens. Once or twice we saw a free movie. Although it wasn't free after I paid for the popcorn and drinks. But the kids loved it.



answers from Dallas on

Check the YMCA - our area has daycamp all summer long. Don't know the ages, but it might be an option.

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