How to Not Waste Your Summer Vacation

With the weather finally warming and the snow gradually melting, you’re probably getting in that refreshed, springtime frame of mind. Frisbee on the lawn, balmy breezes, the ability to walk outside without every inch of your skin covered with some kind of winter gear: it’s a beautiful feeling. Since spring is upon us, it’s a good time to talk about what your summer might look like.

As a high school student or college student, summer probably seems like an oasis in the desert: a long, sunny paradise where homework doesn’t exist and responsibilities are minimal. (After all, if you’re home, Mom will do your laundry, right??) While it’s tempting to look at summer as a big, wide, open space for video games and pool parties, consider supplementing your vacation with some helpful additions.

It’s certainly important to rest, so make sure you do take advantage of that over the summer, but it’s also to your benefit to structure your summer break in a way that allows you to grow and develop as a person. Take a look at this list of ideas and see if any of these resonate with you.

1. Learn a new skill

There’s no time like the present. Sure, you’ve been “learning” all year long, but now’s the chance for you to pick up something fun or try something you’ve always been interested in but have never had the time to devote. Learn archery, try your hand at watercoloring, or sign up for a summer course that will count toward your credits for graduation. If taking an academic course sounds like the last thing you want to do, consider the fact that you’ll be able to focus on the content without the distraction of all your other classes. It might go by really fast, and you’ll gain helpful knowledge in the meantime.

2. Study abroad

There’s something remarkably wonderful about traveling—it expands the mind and gives you a whole new grasp on how others live. Instead of taking a semester to study abroad, consider doing it over the summer! That way, you won’t miss out on anything school related, but you’ll still get to meet new people, try new foods, and overall, benefit your education. Whether or not you take classes while abroad is up to you, but either way, gallivanting around the globe will give you new insight on life.

3. Get involved with a ministry

Another great way to spend your summer is getting involved with some sort of ministry or service project. Connect with your local homeless shelter and see if they need volunteers. Sign up for a mission trip through your home church, or get plugged in by helping with your youth group. If you worry that your faith may waver over the summer, this is a great way to make sure you’re spending time with Christian community who will push you back toward the Lord if you find yourself wandering.

4. Get a job

You might have already been planning on this one, but there’s certainly no substitute for the income a part-time summer job can provide. Not only that, but you’ll probably gain valuable experience that will serve you in the future when you attempt to land your first full-time job. Skills such as perseverance and diligence develop when your scooping ice cream, serving lattes, and mowing lawns.

5. Apply for an internship

If you’re approaching the end of your college career, it’s time to start looking toward the future. Summer is the perfect time to snag an internship. If scheduling works out, there’s even potential to pump through two internships at the same time! Getting all that practice working in your desired field under your belt will go a long way in impressing future employers. Not only will they see that you didn’t waste your summer vacation, but they’ll also notice all the experience you gained working for a real company.

Make a plan

Whatever you end up doing, it’s important to start thinking through your options now. Without a plan, it’s easy to let the summer weeks slide by with nary a rewarding experience. Don’t underestimate the importance of the emotional, spiritual, and career development you can intentionally advance during your summer break.

Yes, yes, get your summer tan. But get it while you’re grooming a golf course, so you have a little extra cash to spend at the end of the day.