Summer Bucket List Ideas For Teenagers

Teen Summer Bucket List

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.

Be active
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.

Help Someone
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.

Camp out
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


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I Want That Feeling Again

A couple weeks ago I was talking with a friend who was leaving her job.  It was a good job with a good employer but it was time to move on.  I spoke with her as she was navigating the decision making process and then again on her last day. 

Leaving a job – a real career-type job – is not as easy as it sounds.  I know from experience.  But I was happy (and a little relieved) at her response – “I feel so happy and free”, was her proclamation and in that moment so was I.

I had worked for that same employer for over 13 years, a lifetime ago it now seems.  On my last day I met a friend for lunch.  I had completed the ‘administrative check-out’ process (code for returning laptops and signing disclosure agreements, and other HR related activities) in the morning and by mid day I was free.

I arrived at our destination early and sat outside.  It was unseasonably warm for a January 12th (circa 2009).  I laughed out loud when it struck me.  I was now unemployed.  I was absolutely free and un-tethered and it was an amazing feeling.

Sure I could have been terrified and I understand where under other circumstances I would be.  But I had taken care of my business and had a decent buyout which afforded me a comfortable runway. 

In that moment, I felt about as free as I ever have as an adult.

So when my friend made her proclamation of freedom, it resonated well with me.  More than a hopeful thought or wish, it awoke an echo from within.

Now, I have my feet planted firmly in reality and I do enjoy my current job and expect to be happy along this path for some time to come, but I’m also capable of carrying a dream. 

And more than just about anything else, my dream is to experience that feeling of freedom again.  Not when I’m a 75 year old retiree and free to do whatever is left that I’m capable of doing, but while I’m still young enough to know that I’m not yet finished, while I’m still capable of starting now what I’ve been placed here to do.

The last time I had that feeling, I knew I had a limited window to exercise it and soon thereafter this site was birthed.  BANG or whimper is still being decided I suppose.  But while this site has not afforded me an endless runway, it has elevated my line of sight and allowed me to expand my vision and dream for a new reality. 

The next time I feel that sense of freedom, I want it to be without constraint and I’m increasingly led to believe that the budgeting and personal accountability and goal setting and introspection I espouse in this forum are somehow both the path to and message of that dream.  Perhaps my membership will soar and publishers will knock down my door with huge book advances or perhaps I’ll continue modestly crafting content and eliminating debt until I can transition into another career… to become say, a high school teacher with a homemade curriculum and permission to coach a little football on the side.

Who really knows what lies around the next bend, but I know a dream for freedom has stirred within me and I look forward to figuring out how to unleash it.


If this message resonates with you, I ask that you consider sharing this article (and site) with someone.  Who knows, YOU might be the tipping point in helping unleash the growth potential of this site, which in turn could help me set my dream free!

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