Teaching Teens About Leadership With a Family Vacation

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Let your teen make some important decisions.

Have your teen research possible destinations and activities for the family. Let them have a say in where you are going and/ or what you will be doing. This will make your teen more responsible and they will take ownership of the family vacation. They will be more likely to enjoy the trip.

If you already know where you are going, let your teen plan out one day or set up an itinerary for the family. Give them resources to help them make decisions. The hard part for parents will be committing to do whatever your teen has chosen. Discuss the itinerary together. You may have to help them work out certain things like transportation and managing time from one place to another, etc.

These are some helpful resources:

Google Maps


Teach your teen responsibility by giving them their own money to spend.

Every family needs to make a vacation budget. This is the perfect time to talk to your teen about how to manage money and allow them the chance to practice on their own. When planning the trip your teen can note how they want to spend their money and how much each item on their list will cost. Have them subtract these things from their total. If they have money left over help them decide how they could spend but don’t tell them how to spend it. If they are over budget guide them on how adjust their plan so that they can stay in budget.

Make your teen responsible for his/her own personal stuff.

Guide your teen in making a packing list of everything they need and want to bring on vacation. They can write it down on paper or use their phone to make a check list. Some great apps for this are Evernote and Asana. Also, the reminders app on the iphone can do this too. Look over their list with them and suggest anything you think they should add. Discuss what kind of luggage to take and predict how long packing will take.

Set expectations and rules before you leave.

Clear communication is important before you leave so that the whole family can have fun and create wonderful memories. To make sure that your vacation goes as planned talk to your teen about your expectations of their behavior. Have a family meeting or talk about it over dinner before you go. Let everyone have input.

Is your teen allowed to go off on their own? If yes, when and where?

Does your teen have a curfew?

What time will everyone need to be ready to go each day?

Family rules such as no fighting, cursing, drinking, smoking, etc.

No one is perfect, but express that you hope everyone understands that the rules are in place to ensure that the whole family has a great vacation.

Let your teen take the wheel.

We learn a tremendous amount from our experiences. If your teen has his/ her license let them drive. This a great chance for them to practice their driving skills.

Address any conflicts.

If there is an argument between anyone, your teen and you or a sibling, discuss it right away. Get to the heart of the matter and don’t dwell on it. You are on vacation and don’t want to waste time being mad or having anyone in the family mad at each other.

Allow a friend to tag along.

This can be a great opportunity to get to know one of your teen’s friends. Talk to their friend’s parents beforehand so everyone is comfortable. Exchange contact info and give the friend’s parents an itinerary. Be clear about expectations for the trip. The two teens may want to go off on their own. Express the importance of the rules and communication.

Have fun and make some wonderful memories.

Enjoy your time together as a family. Take lots of pictures and enjoy each other’s company. Keep a joint journal of your experiences with your teen. This could be online or written. When you return your pictures and journal would make a nice keepsake. You could put it all together in a book printed through Shutterfly or some other company.


2017 Summer Opportunities for Teens

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Start thinking about your summer plans now. Various places in Jacksonville and surrounding areas are taking applications and they usually have to be submitted soon. There are lots of opportunities out there for teens to gain valuable experiences depending on their interests. If you don’t see something that interests you but know of an organization you would like to get involved in just call them up and ask if they have any opportunities available. Using your time wisely over the summer can greatly benefit students when applying to colleges and universities. Admissions are looking for individuals who have been active in their community.

Benefits of Community Service for Teens

Develop a sense of social responsibility

Exposure to diversity and multiculturalism.

Builds relationships and network with peers, adults, and others.

Improves communication and critical thinking skills.

Stand out among other applicants at a college or university

Discover passions and interests that lead to a career choice

Use the links below to discover local opportunities for teens 

Medical Field (volunteer)

UF Health
Baptist Health
American Red Cross

Animals (volunteer)

Jacksonville Zoo
Jacksonville Humane Society

The Arts (camp/ course)

Florida Film Academy at Flagler College
UNF Summer Music Camp for Middle and High School Students

STEM (camp/ course/ internship)

UNF Summer Tech Camps for Kids and Teens


Summer Jobs for Teens

 Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified academic life coach for students and teens in Jacksonville and surrounding areas. She has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps develop life skills for students as well as gives them academic strategies, which help to decrease anxiety and stress in students. Contact Melanie Black today for a free consultation at or (904) 487-8269.

Teen Leadership & Community Involvement


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Leadership skills are critical to success! Teens need to be empowered with leadership skills so that they can be successful in the future. Excellent communication skills in the form of listening, speaking, and body language along with many other things make a great leader . Are these skills inherent or learned? Some people say one is a “born leader.” This statement suggests that other people are “born followers.” Leadership is not a trait that you are born with, but rather a set of skills learned over time. Think about athletes. Is one born with all the skills needed to be a professional athlete? No. In order to be an excellent leader you must learn the skills needed for such an important role. “Practice makes perfect” is what I have always heard and found to be true. Teens need opportunities to practice leadership skills. Community involvement is the perfect way to exercise those skills and become an empowered leader of the future.

There are so many ways that teens can get involved in the community. For more information click here to read my post, Volunteering for Teens: Resources and Benefits. The rewards of community involvement are endless. Middle and high school students who are actively involved in the community reap the benefits such as networking with local professionals and organizations, scholarship opportunities, gaining community service hours, practicing those much needed leadership skills for future jobs, increased self esteem and confidence, and more.

In Jacksonville, FL and surrounding areas there are such a wealth of opportunities to be involved in the community that it is hard to choose or even know where to start. How do you start? Know your passion! To start ask yourself a few questions:

1. What interests me?

2. What do I like to do?

3. What kind of career interests me?

Ok, now start researching using some of the resources listed in my post, Volunteering for Teens: Resources and Benefits. Inquire at your school and nearby schools about opportunities.

Have a great idea? Start your own community project! You do not have to an adult to start your own project. It can be as simple as collecting canned goods in your neighborhood or getting a few friends and cleaning up a local park or other area of the community. Give your project a title and spread the word! Start taking action and become an amazing leader. You can make a difference!

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Student Futures coach, Melanie Black, believes strongly in helping her community. She will be volunteering at the Generation WOW Conference at UNF November 5th. Learn more about how the conference helps teen girls by clicking here. Also, November is National Alzheimers Disease Awareness Month and as she does every year, Melanie Black will be participating in the Walk to End Alzheimers on November 8th as it is a cause close to her heart. Finally, November 6th Melanie will be participating in the Light the Night Walk to raise money and awareness for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Student Futures helps students develop leadership skills through academic coaching. We give students strategies to increase self-efficacy, self-motivation, and self discipline. Contact us today for a free consultation. Click here to learn more about academic coaching and how we are helping students in Jacksonville and surrounding areas.