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Teenage adventures that will help to educate and entertain

Young people can make the most of their summer by taking part in many exciting schemes, as Lisa Salmon finds out

Beating boredom: a group of teenagers get to work
Beating boredom: a group of teenagers get to work

By Lisa Salmon

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

New research by the 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.

However, there are many schemes on offer that aim to both entertain and educate young people.

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

1. NCS

How does it work?

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

Phase 1: Adventure

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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."

2. Duke of Edinburgh's Award

How does it work?

Young people aged between 14-24 can earn a Duke of Edinburgh's Award (www.dofe.org) (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 more than 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.

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.

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."

3. Projects Abroad

How does it work?

Projects Abroad (www.projects-abroad.co.uk) offers High School Specials tailor-made for 15 to 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, plus 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.

"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, an d you can feel safe in the knowledge that you're part of something incredibly worthwhile."

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