Technically a bucket list is a collection of things we want to do or accomplish before we ‘kick the bucket’. But the idea is portable. What do we want to accomplish this month or year or as teenagers we might ask what we want to do during summer break.
Hmm, a summer bucket list for teenagers… now there’s a fun topic.
Here’s a list of ideas based on my experience, both as a former teenager and as someone with plenty of post teenage experience.
Work, just not full time
Have some responsibilities – and your own spending money – but don’t overdo it. You have your entire life to work long hours. Meanwhile, having a part time job will force you to plan and allow you to meet new people but still preserve the bulk of your summer for the good stuff.
Read at least 3 good books
Sure, school may be out but don’t neglect your brain altogether. Select a couple books that promise to give you a new look at life and perhaps even shape your future self. For these books, stay away from non-fiction but find something entertaining. Your particular interests may vary but consider something like Money Ball, Freakonomics, The Richest Man Who Ever Lived, The Millionaire Mind, or practically anything by Malcolm Gladwell.
Take a road trip, without your parents
This is more appropriate for an older teenager: Plan an overnight trip with a friend. Perhaps visit a relative or another friend living/visiting in another town. This breaks up the summer routine while providing a small taste of being on your own and probably a few good stories too. Don’t do this on the sly, make sure your parents are aware and allow them to contribute to the planning. Demonstrate to them that you can handle this and you might be surprised the doors this will open.
Think about the kind of adult you want to be
This is abstract thinking, not detailed life planning. Consider someone you know that you’d like to emulate. Perhaps there are characteristics from several people you want to replicate in your life. Work backwards from those examples to consider how to replicate them. What’s one small thing you can do today that moves you in that direction? Do that.
Stay up late and get up early
Maybe you don’t want to do both of these on the same day, but don’t simply fall into the routine of staying up late and sleeping in just because its summer. Get up early to watch a sunrise or to see how much stuff you can accomplish before the day hits its full stride. Stay up to catch a late night movie or an after midnight meal at a Waffle House or Denny’s. Both early mornings and late nights have their own rhythms. Which speaks to you?
Make plans to correct a regret
Another one with some weight, but we don’t get better without some introspection. Look back on your last school year and think about the one or two things you wish you could change. Maybe it’s a better grade in Algebra, or not making the team, or not asking the new girl to the dance. Commit to being the person that accomplishes those tasks this next year.
For most teenagers summer is filled with lots of down time. But that doesn’t have to be lounge time. Be active with friends, develop an exercise routine, or learn a new/silly skill like juggling or riding a unicycle. Do something other than sit around all day. Establish a tendency towards action and your future self will thank you.
Spend a day at the lake/river/creek
Summer is about outdoors and water so plan to spend at least a full day combining the two. You may live near a beach, lake, river, or even a creek. Enjoy it with friends while you have the opportunity.
This can be as simple as mowing someone’s lawn while they’re on vacation or as structured as volunteering at a soup kitchen. Worry less about the scale and focus on performing a task for no other reason than to help someone else.
Enjoy the outdoors. Even if you only pitch a tent in the backyard, get outside away from the electronics and enjoy the outdoors. A campfire with s’mores alone makes the entire experience worthwhile.
Enjoy doing nothing
Spend a lazy afternoon watching the clouds or relaxing evening watching the stars. Listen to yourself breathe and let your mind wander. Enjoy the stillness of the experience.
Above all, enjoy and appreciate the summer. The time will come soon enough when there is no such thing as a summer break. Until that time crush the ones you get.
Photo: Weed Whacker