Little kids are easy. If the National Park Junior Ranger program doesn’t cut it there’s always the local zoo or children’s museum. What do you do when your 10 year old is suddenly 14 and “too cool to take the Junior Ranger pledge”?
We started traveling with 12 and 13 year olds. We had about 18 months on the road before we got eye rolls from both kids when we suggested another children’s museum.
And they were right. They had grown up, but we were still thinking of them as young children.
We had to dig deeper to find opportunities to challenge them. There are many cool, unique and valuable programs out there for teens - but we’ve always been on a budget. We can’t afford to ship both of them off to $1200 Spacecamps (as fun as that would be).
The upside of having teens is that you don’t have to look for teen-specific events. They’re mature enough to be able to attend any event designed for adults. And you can find educational opportunities in events that aren’t necessarily designed as such.
Here are three that we found and liked:
What is it?
BarCamp is an ad-hoc “user generated” gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. Each BarCamp chooses a venue that allows presentations, but there are no keynote speakers or scheduled talks.
And no, they didn’t start in bars. The name comes from the hacker word foobar.
BarCamps all happen on the fly, anyone can present, and yes there is a “camping” aspect to them. Many people bring small tents and sleeping bags and spend the night at the venue.
BarCamps are intense events with discussions, demos, and interaction from attendees, usually centered around design & technology topics.
The format has also been used for a variety of other topics, including public transit, health care, education, and political organizing. The BarCamp format has also been adapted for specific industries like banking, education, real estate and social media.
Where do they happen?
All over the world.
Is there a cost to attend?
The BarCamp that we have attended in Grand Rapids, MI does not have a cost. The venue, food and wi-fi costs are covered by sponsors. However, I have seen fees of up to $50 for other locations.
How would this event benefit my teen?
Your teens can choose sessions that interest them. We recently attended a talk on developing your own board games and using a 3D printer.
Attendees are expected to present. This would be a great venue for your teen to practice public speaking.
After our 1st year on the road, Mike gave a presentation on traveling with your family. (A year later, one of the guys from the talk told us his family was going to ditch the suburbs for a year.)
What is it?
Startup Weekend is an event focusing on entreprenurialism. People pitch business ideas on Friday night, the crowd votes on them, then teams form to try and build that new business (or product) by the following Sunday night.
Team progress is reported in a presentation to the attending crowd. Most Startup Weekends have a panel of local business experts and investors that attend on Sunday night.
The experts rank the presentations and winning teams go on to get funding, office space, discounted software, and other benefits designed to help the team bring their business to the market.
Where do they happen?
All over the world. Check startupweekend.org to find an event happening near you.
Is there a Cost to attend?
Yes. We paid about $100/adult to attend a Startup Weekend, but there was a discounted student rate for our kids.
How would this event benefit your teen?
The event is a start-up business education in a weekend. Your teens can learn about:
- Communicating/selling a business idea
- Validating an idea by creating online surveys or doing man on the street interviews
- Determining who the target audience is for a business
- Creating a brand identity that appeals to that audience
- Designing a profitable business model
- Dealing with potential liability or intellectual property issues
- The launch process for a new business
If your teen has a business idea, he could pitch it on the first night. If your teen has an interest in graphic design, she could help with a website to promote the business. If your teen wants to be part of a team that is putting together something “new”, this event is it.