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Outdoors, Wilderness, & Adventure programs

SCA (Student Conservation Association)

Appalacian Mountain Club (AMC)


NOLS (National Outdoors Leadership School

Outward Bound

Longacre Expeditions

Hostelling International

Volunteer Programs

Landmark Volunteers

SCA (Student Conservation Association)

VFP (Volunteers for Peace)

Habitat for Humanity

One-Semester High School Programs

City Term at the Master's School (New York City)

Maine Coast Semester

The Mountain School (VT)

Outdoor Academy at Eagle's Nest Foundation (South Carolina)

Oxbow School (Arts in CA)

Rocky Mtn. Semester

The Island School (Bahamas)

Ocean Classroom (traveling schooner)

Early Entrance College Programs

Simons Rock College (combined H.S. and college degrees)

Summer Camps

Wilderness Experiences

Maine Youth Camping Association

American Camping Assoc.

New Hampshire Camp Directors  Association

After High School

After High School (or before college) programs

Low cost or free

Tuition-free and low cost programs

Students' favorites

Programs attended by our local students




Program Suggestions

Outdoors/Adventure Programs
Volunteer Programs
One-semester High School Programs
Early-entrance College Programs
Summer Camps
After High School (or before college)
Tuition-free and low cost programs
Programs attended by our local students

I use the phrase "Whole World High School" to describe how lots of teens are looking outside the walls of their high schools to find ways of learning more, of learning better and of having a heck of a lot more fun doing it.

That can be as simple as attending a week-long summer program close to home, or as adventurous as spending six weeks volunteering in Germany or attending a semester-long high school program in the Rocky Mountains.

When you realize that going to high school is just one of a number of equally important aspects of your education as a teenager, you can begin to put together the other pieces in a way that suits you best.

If you start planning even before you get to high school, you can pretty much guarantee yourself a high school career where the boundaries between education and experience dissolve, and where learning becomes a way of life.

The following list of summer and school-year programs is drawn, for the most part, from the recommendations of teens we know who've actually participated. If you are just beginning to think about a program for next summer or for some part of the school year, what you'll find here is a representative sample of the huge number of programs that are out there.

However, because we know these programs, we are pretty confident that you won't go wrong choosing one from this list. If you want to dig deeper, go to the "Books" page.

Outdoors/Adventure Programs

Student Conservation Association www.sca-inc.org

Contact: 689 River Road, PO Box 550 Charlestown, New Hampshire 03603-0550 Phone: 603-543-1700 Fax: 603-543-1828

Application deadline: but apply in January, if possible, to improve your chances of admission. Ask about application deadlines. Note: Application is lengthy and thorough.

Cost: No cost to participants other than transportation and personal hiking and camping gear.

Age: 16-18 years for 4-5wk. high school crews. Opportunties abound also for college students, and adults of all ages.

SCA is a program I often recommend because it has most of the elements of a great summer experience, It's tuition-free, except for travel costs. It puts you outdoors with a group of kids from all around the country doing volunteer conservation work in our national parks and forests that makes a difference you can feel proud of. It gives you wide range of regional choices with sites in many states, from Alaska and Hawaii to Florida and Maine.

SCA will teach you skills that range from basic construction to an understanding of ecology. You will have the opportunity to work as one member of a team of people who depend on you to contribute your share, whether it's cooking, keeping up the energy and enthusiasm of the group, or literally holding up your end of the log. And almost all of the teens I know who have come back from an SCA crew say it was one of the best experiences of their lives.

Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) www.outdoors.org

If you've done any hiking at all in state or national parks, you've almost certainly walked on the work of volunteer trail crews. In the New England area, the AMC is the major group that oversees and, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, maintains the extensive trail and hut system, as well as offering a good variety of outdoors experiences and programs.

There are similar organizations in other parts of the country (Green Mountain Club-VT, Adirondack Mtn. Club-NY, etc), so check out your own area, but remember you don't have to be from New England to take advantage of all that the AMC offers.

AMC Volunteer Programs

Cost of Teen Volunteer Trail Crews: is a little over $100/WEEK for one to 2-wk volunteer programs.

Contact: Volunteer Coordinator, 603-466-2721 Ext. 192 and ask about teen trail work crews.

AMC offers several volunteer trail crew projects open to teenagers (ages 15-19) at all ability levels. In the White Mountains the Classic Teen Crew program runs three separate five-day sessions through the summer.

Teen Wilderness Adventures:

contact: Teen Wilderness Coordinator, 603-466-2727

Cost of Teen Wilderness Adventure Programs: Approx. $100/day for 5-day programs.

(For ages 12-18) If your school doesn't have an outdoors program, and you aren't ready to start one yourself, the AMC teen programs can show you the territory and teach you the skills so that you can do whatever you want. From what we hear, these are solid, well-organized and fun outdoor adventure education programs, and the cost, at roughly $100 a day, is not too bad considering you are fed, led, instructed and kept safe in groups of eight kids with two experienced leaders.


Contact: Camp Wabun Limited Bear Island Post Office Ontario, POH 1CO, Canada 705-237-8910. Off-season: 1-800-484-9537 (after tone, enter 2284); Richard P. Lewis, III Managing Director 1210 Ives Lane North Plymouth, MN 55441 763-541-1382 EMAIL: rpl@wabun.com

Cost: Call or email Wabun

Wabun is a well-run wilderness canoe camp with programs--in the Canadian wilderness--ranging from short introductory sessions for younger kids, through six week canoe trips through on connecting lakes and rivers in The Temagami Region, approximately 300 miles north of Toronto, Ontario.

Programs are not co-ed; all are single-sex.

Students may be met at the Toronto airport.

The ultimate adventures, for experienced campers, are the six week Wabun A (boys) and older Cayuga (girls) trips to James or Hudson Bay on the major rivers above the Arctic Divide in Ontario or Quebec.

From the brochure:

"The traditions of the past linger in the techniques of today with wood/canvas canoes, wannigan boxes, canvas duffel bags and leather tumplines still important ingredients in the Wabun experience."

National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) www.nols.edu

Contact: call 1-800-710-NOLS NOLS, 284 Lincoln Street, Lander, WY 82520-2848, USA

Cost: Cost is determined by program content, trip length, and location.

Financial Aid: Several possibilities for financial aid based on need.

Age: several courses for those ages 14 and 15 and many more for those over 16.

Most programs are designed for older teens, college students and adults. NOLS is the biggest, and probably the best, outdoor skills and leadership school in the world. Simply put, they teach you what you need to take people into the backcountry. If you are considering any kind of a career that might involve the outdoors, groups of people and environmental issues, NOLS is a great place to gain some experience and earn credentials.

One young woman we know took a year between high school and college, and spent 4 months in Australia on a NOLS Leadership Semester. She got college credit and a life-changing adventure, and even though she probably isn't going into the outdoors as a career, she has the skills and confidence that can only come through intense, formal training.

NOLS offers dozens of courses in the following categories: Wilderness Leadership Courses, January Term, Courses for Educators, Leadership Semesters, Mountaineering Courses and Skills Courses.

High school students may be able to earn college credit for NOLS courses. NOLS gives a listing of those colleges that easily give credit for NOLS courses.

NOLS now offers an Associates degree.

Outward Bound

National Office www.outwardbound.com

Hurricane Island Outward Bound www.hurricaneisland.org,

Contact: National Office Tel: 888/882-6863; Hurricane Island Outward Bound School, 75 Mechanic St., Rockland, ME 04841; Tel: 800/341/1744

Cost: Roughly, many courses cost nearly $200/day. Check pricing for each program that interests you

Financial Aid: Scholarships are available based on need.

Age: 14 and over. Most programs are designed for older teens, college students and adults.

Like NOLS, Outward Bound is a large, national organization with a great reputation offering a large number of outdoors programs. Outward Bound puts a strong focus on skills training, environmental understanding, personal growth and teamwork. The organization is a group of five schools (Maine, Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon and Minnesota), all of which design their courses to take advantage of their particular locations. The Hurricane Island school in Maine, for example, offers sailing, navigation, kayaking, canoeing, wilderness backpacking, backcountry skiing and even dogsledding. Also, new to the program is the travelling Tall Ships Semester.

NOTE: The ASCENT Program is for at-risk youth


Longacre Expeditions www.longacreexpeditions.com

Contact: Longacre Expeditions, 4030 Middle Ridge Road Newport, PA 17074 717.567.6790 Voice 800.433.0127 Toll free 717.567.3955 Fax

--From the Longacre website: "Communicating with Longacre Expeditions: If you have found us directly through our website, you probably don't have our most recent brochure. Please feel free to call or email us to receive a copy. Many of our previous campers and their families have volunteered to act as references. They are listed in our catalog and will give you a kid's-eye view of the Longacre Experience. If we can arrange it, we are happy to come to your home and show you some slides of previous summers. It's a great opportunity to meet each other. Longacre Expeditions Winter Travel Schedule Our winter travel schedule is extensive. Give us a call for more details."

Cost: Tuition dependent on the program. To give you an idea, though, one 28 day program costs nearly $5000 (04).

Ages: 10-19

Longacre (since 1981) is one of a number of top-quality organizations that offers a range of what's known as wilderness/adventure travel experiences (backpackiang, kayaking, etc.). Longacre takes coed groups of 10-16 teens on some 20 different well-organized trips in North and Central America, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, and Europe. These excursions range from 14 to 28 days during late June to mid-August and include locations in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the ‘les de la Madeleine (Quebec), Newfoundland, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, and Iceland. They share common goals with many of this type of program, and that's to put a small group of teens together in a new, exciting and challenging adventure, and in so doing, as Longacre says, "to provide teenagers the opportunity to grow by successfully accepting challenge..."

Hostelling International - American Youth Hostels www.hiayh.org/home.shtml

Contact: National Administrative Office Street Address: 733 15th Street, NW, Suite 840, Washington, DC 20005 Phone: (202) 783-6161; Fax: (202) 783-6171 Email: Hostel Department: hostels@hiayh.org Membership Department: members@hiayh.org

If you are ready to put some clothes in a backpack and set off for a travel adventure with a friend, learn about the network of hostels throughout the US and around the globe. Staying in hostels is the cheapest, safest and easiest way to travel and open yourself up to new places, people and experiences.

They come in all different shapes and sizes, from single rooms in somebody's house to large, well-appointed dormitories in big cities. You can expect to meet people from all over the world and learn about the culture of hosteling, a way of traveling that is friendlier and far more interesting than shutting yourself up in a private motel room for $50-$100 a night.

You can cook meals in some of the hostel kitchens, but be prepared to pitch in for some cleaning and maintenance work during your stay. Also, you should know that many hostels lock their doors during the day, so whether you like it or not, you'll have to explore the city where you are staying. But, afterall, isn't that the point? For a comprehensive look at hosteling and a large amount of info and resources, check out http://www.hostels.com. See their Links page www.hostels.com/linksHOS.html for a substantial number of links to all sorts of organizations from Amerispan (a language travel company that specializes in Spanish immersion programs throughout Mexico, Central America and South America) to Council Travel (providing student, youth and budget travelers great prices and options for travel).

You'll find a large number of books available on hosteling. For a good, honest guidebook that reviews the quality of hostels in the US, pick up "Hostels U.S.A." by Paul Kerr (2000 Globe Pequot Press).

Volunteer Programs

Landmark Volunteers www.volunteers.com

Contact: P.O. Box 455, Sheffield, MA 01257 Phone: 413-229-0255 Email: landmark@volunteers.com

Cost: $875 for applications postmarked by March 31, and $925 for late applications. The earlier you apply, the better your chances of getting one of your top choices for sites.

Age: at least 14 1/2, entering 10th grade, or older

Landmark Volunteers is a relatively new program (it's been around for a little more than ten years) but it's one of our favorites because it opens the door for you to an astonishing variety of places and organizations from one end of the US to the other.

Their summer rosters of over 50 programs have included choices ranging from habitat restoration in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (San Francisco), to helping with concert activities, wetlands and trail improvement at the Grand Teton Music Festival and Jackson Hole Land Trust (Colorado), to working with rare and endangered farm animals at Kelmscott Farm in Maine.

All the programs are two weeks long, and you join a group of up to 14 teens at the site you've been assigned. When you apply you have to list your top six choices, and depending on the popularity of your choices, how early you apply and Landmark's interest in putting together teams of students with a good mix and diversity, you may or may not get your top choice. On the other hand, with more than 50 programs, you'll probably find it real hard to narrow down the possibilities to one top choice anyway.

Volunteers for Peace www.vfp.org

Contact: 1034 Tiffany Road, Belmont, VT 05730-0202 Phone: 802/259-2759 FAX: 802/259-2922 Vfp@vfp.org

Selection process: You should have already had some experience with international travel and working and living with a new group of people.

Cost: Many are just $200 for 2-3 wks.(You pay transportation). This covers room and board (often very simple accommodations and do-it-yourself meals)

Age: 15-17 for some programs in France and Germany; 18 and older for most others.

One younger student I spoke with traveled to France for a two week programs at age 15--with a friend.

The Volunteers for Peace teen programs are a recent find for us, and we are talking it up every chance we get. Their reputation is very good, but they don't advertise and they don't have glossy brochures. People I talked with who have had lots of experience in their programs say that VFP is the best international volunteer organization they know of.

VFP has been operating since 1982, placing some 11,000 volunteers of all ages into two to four week projects literally all over the globe, from Goshen, New Hampshire to Burkino Faso, Cambodia, Mexico and Tanzania. They are part of a network of international volunteer organizations affiliated with UNESCO, a United Nations agency.

Most of their programs are for people 18 years and older, but they have 250 projects, mostly in France and Germany, for teens 15-16 and older. The variety of projects is mind-boggling, but the way the projects work is pretty simple: a local group like a town, a service agency, or a non-profit organization such as a museum or park decides what they need help with, and applies to get listed with VPS as a project. The local historical society in your town, for example, could apply to be a VFP project if they were in the process of restoring a historical home.

Many of the projects are on-going and host work groups year after year. You don't need to know a foreign language, because English is the common tongue, but if you are studying French, go to France! The groups usually consist of 10-20 people, and some of the projects open to teens are also open to young adults through their mid-twenties. VPS says that usually you will work with volunteers from at least four or more countries, and, in their words, "You'll have a blast. You'll learn a lot about one another, yourself, and about some of the social, cultural and political conditions that exist in other countries."

Summer Youth Blitz (Habitat for Humanity)

Contact: Kathy Saad, Habitat For Humanity International/CCYP, 121 Habitat St., Americus GA 31709 1-800-HABITAT ext. 2422, or YP@HFHI.org

Cost: Between $400 and $500. Participants pay for transportation to the construction site.

Age: 16-18 years

Would you give two weeks of your summer to help build a home for a low-income family? They call it "blitz-building," and in the many years that Habitat for Humanity has been doing this work, they've got it down to a science „ a team of energetic people, a stack of wood, shingles and other materials, two weeks of measuring, sawing and nailing and another house is ready for a family which couldn't afford it otherwise.

The Habitat program has been so successful (former President Jimmy Carter is a big supporter) as a great volunteer opportunity for adults that about ten years ago they started this Summer Youth Blitz program for teenagers. You'll be working with a dozen or more kids from around the country, and like most of these volunteer programs,

Habitat tries to put together a diverse team of people from various backgrounds and locations. Your teammates will probably be people who are very different from you, and one of the big rewards of the program is the sharing of stories and understanding that goes on when a lively bunch of teens gets together on a project.

One-Semester High School Programs

There are currently fewer than a dozen (that I know of)across the country which offer stand-alone semester-long high school programs, but I predict their numbers will grow steadily over the next decade. Students apply to attend either spring or fall semester programs. At least one (Ocean Classroom) offers a summer semester program too. After attending the program students usually return to their home school. Some students attend more than one semester-long program. There are programs for students in 10th-12th grade--and for post high school graduates too, so, you may want to begin applications while in your first year of high school. Programs are small and accept from 30-45 students, depending on the program.

These programs take place on islands, aboard traveling schooners, on mountains, on seacoasts and in cities.

These are essentially specialty private schools where you'll continue to study required high school courses like math and English, but you'll also be able to dig deeper than you thought possible into the special areas offered by each school.

For example, Oxbow School in California is devoted to the visual arts; Rocky Mountain Semester at the High Mountain Institute in Colorado emphasizes outdoors studies, City Term at the Master's School in New York puts you into New York City 3 days a week to work on a project dealing with urban issues, and the Outdoor Academy at Eagles' Nest Foundation in North Carolina focuses on environmental education and the arts. All of these programs are competitive and academically demanding, and the cost is accordingly high--one semester costs about what it would cost for half a year at a private boarding school, but the experience is fantastic and will change your life. Some stress the academic part more than others. So, don't be deterred from applying! Ask the school what they are looking for in an applicant.

All of these schools offer financial aid--some provide (almost) FULL aid. I know of several students, from public schools, with modest family incomes who were given nearly full scholarships. Generally, application deadlines are sometime in February. for admission to spring or fall semesters of the following year.

If you've missed the deadline, check it out anyway; schools often have openings for new applications after application deadlines.

City Term at the Master's School www.themastersschool.com

Contact: Dobb's Ferry, NY 10522 Tel. 914-479-6502

11th/12th grades: one semester (spring and fall)

Curriculum: Experiential; 3 out of 6 days spent in NYC-based project in some aspect of urban issues; rigorous academics, requires strong writing and reading.

Maine Coast Semester www.chewonki.org

Contact: Chewonki Foundaiton, 485 Chewonki Neck Rd., Wiscasset, ME 04578; Tel. 207-882-7323; Scott Andrews, Director; EMAIL: sandrews@chewonki.org

11th grade: one semester (spring and fall)

Curriculum: 30-35 students; curriculum is community-oriented; environmental ethics, organic farm and woodlot, work program, natural history of the Maine coast, while living on the Maine Coast.

The Mountain School of Milton Academy www.mountainschool.org

Contact: 151 Mountain School Rd., Vershire, VT 05079-9655; tel. 802-685-3317

11th grade: one semester (spring and fall)

Curriculum: 45 students; rigorous academics, environmental focus, outdoors, farming

City Term at the Master's School www.themastersschool.com

Contact: 49 Clinton Ave, Dobb's Ferry, NY 10522

Phone: 914-479-6502

11th/12th grades: one semester (spring and fall)

Curriculum: Experiential; 3 out of 6 days spent in NYC-based project in some aspect of urban issues; rigorous academics, requires strong writing and reading.

The Outdoor Academy at Eagles' Nest Foundation www.enf.org

Contact: 43 Hart Road, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

Phone: 828-877-4349

10th grade: one semester (spring and fall)

Curriculum: Outdoor program,Environmental experiential education, regional studies, the arts, college prep. The school is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.

Rocky Mountain Semester at The High Mountain Institute www.hminet.org

Contact: P.O. box 970, Leadville, CO 80461

Phone: 719-486-8200

11th grade: one semester (spring and fall)

Curriculum: Half of the student's time is spent in the field, backpacking, etc. in the back country (in the Rocky Mountains!).

Oxbow School www.oxbowschool.org

Contact: 530 Third St., Napa Ca.

Phone: 707-255-6000

11th/12th grade: one semester (spring and fall)

Curriculum: visual arts intensive: team teaching: college prep.

School is set in wine country, north of San Francisco.

The Island School at Lawrenceville Institute www.islandschool.org

Contact: P.O. box 6008, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648

Phone: 609-620-6700

10th/11th grade: one semester (spring and fall)

Curriculum: Students and teachers challenge each other to find real solutions to real environmental/economic (etc.) problems on this island of Eleuthra in the Bahamas. Students live on the island.

Ocean Classroom www.oceanclassroom.org

Contact: Ocean Classroom Foundation, P.O. box 446, Cornwall, NY 12518

Phone: 1-800-724-7245

10th/11th/12th/ and post HS: spring or fall or summer

Curriculum: This is a complete semester at sea exploring the North Atlantic and the Carribean, while living and traveling aboard a schooner.

Global Quest www.gquest.com

Curriculum: A semester spring or fall during 12th grade, in Thailand.


Camps may be your (or your child s-if you are a parent reading this) first summer program experience. There may well be camps in your region, close to home, where your child may be more comfortable with a first away-from-home experience. If you ask around among other parents, teachers, neighbors you ll no doubt get the name of at least a few camps where local children have had good experiences.

Our daughter (who is now at age 22-- comfortable traveling most anywhere in the world) , did not want to go away from home to camp, but, as a 6th grade student she agreed to go to a 5 day long camp in Massachussettes (Wilderness Experiences Unlimited---www.weu.com), only if she could go with a friend. She did just that; she and Hannah (also now a world traveler) attended a week of kayaking camp and had a ball. They were then ready for the next more adventurous experience.

Camp is a general category which includes the classic camp (campfires, s mores, sing-a-longs, swimming and crafts, etc.) as well as specialty camps that concentrate on most any interest area you could imagine. There are camps for those with special needs, for those with serious illnesses, for those of different faiths, etc. As you search for a camp, check out the American Camping Association guidelines for how to choose a camp, questions to ask, etc.

Older campers may be eligible for counselor-in-training or leadership training positions if they are too old to attend the camp as a regular camper. . Some camps prefer to hire those who have previously attended their camps, for these positions. Some of these positions may pay and some will charge you for a leadership training opportunity.

The American Camping Association of New England (others too) 800-446-4494 can help you find a camp where you can have a counselor or leadership experience. They can help you find a camp that fits your needs and your budget.

If you are interested in going to camps attended by the rich and famous, check out Who they are &..where they went : in www.goCamp.com. This is also a user friendly site that is fun and interesting for prospective campers.

Parents can easily get help with a search for a camp online. The American Camping Association website is www.acacamps.org. This is a national association that accredits camps all over the US and offers all kinds of assistance to those who own camps, those who want to go to camps or find a camp to suit their needs, interests or abilities. There are many state or regional sections of the ACA.

Most state or regional camping associations have free brochures or booklets which describe their camps. Call and ask for one or go to the website to make the request.

There are hundreds of camps in the US. Here are just a few I know in our area (New England) which some of the kids I know have attended and who have enjoyed their experiences

Friends Camp in South China, Maine



This is a two-week camp attended (and loved) by several of my daughter s friends. It is more affordable at $585 for 13 days (2004). The camp is Quaker owned, but all youth are welcome.

Camp Farnsworth


Girl Scout Camp. Girls age 7-17. Camp for 1-2 wks.

Camp Coniston


Coed ages 8-15 (up to 16 for Adventure Camp) for two-wk. sessions (NH)

Wilderness Experiences Unlimited www.weu.com

Contact: 499 Loomis St., Westfield, MA 01085; Tel. 1-888-WEU-CAMP; E-mail: adventures@WEU.com

Application deadline: First-come, first-served

Cost: $425-$2,500

Age: 9-17 years

There are hundreds of outdoors summer camp programs, but Wilderness Experiences is one we know first hand, and never hesitate to recommend to teens who may not be ready for a month-long trip in the wilderness but who want a short but fun plunge into the outdoors.

They offer 5-day programs at several levels at their"base camp" of 138 acres in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. For example, you can learn rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and even beginning scuba at the Trailblazers programs for 12-17 year-olds.

And they offer resident leadership training programs (2-8 weeks) that can prepare you for a summer camp job.

New Hampshire Camp Directors  Association www.nhcamps.org

Phone: 800-549-CAMP

Maine Youth Camping Association

Phone: 800-536-7712

Find a camp in Maine. Request a free directory.

American Camping Association www.acane-camps.org

Contact: 214 N. Main St., Suite 104, Natick, MA 01760 Tel: 800-446-4494

This is the organization that has the BIG LIST of summer camps and is the place to go if you want to find just the right camp. They accredit summer camps, and can help you in your search, as well as giving you a list of the key questions to ask. Ask for the Summer Camp Guide booklet. The brochure has a helpful sections on how to choose a camp. Call them and talk with a real person for help in finding the right camp for you (or your child).

Early Entrance College Programs

There are a number of ways to attend college without first graduating from high school. Some students attend college while still in high school. Other students are receiving both high school and college credit for college courses. Some high schools are bringing in college teachers to teach their own students within their building. Most any college will accept qualified applicants at least one year early.

This website www.earlyentrance.org gives a good explanation of why a student would consider early entrance and also has a good listing of some of the colleges that admit high schools students.

Simons Rock College of Bard is unique in that is the only college that I know of that is designed to accept high school Juniors so that your fellow students are all those who are leaving high school early to attend this college. Parents of several young people I know have expressed gratitude for this school which offered a social experience that would not have been possible in their home high school. Students who might stand out as too smart, too nerdy, too fat, too &anything, may find that Simon s Rock offers a kinder social climate as well as a stimulating academic environment.

Academic Programs

Programs highly recommended by our local high school students (Updated 3-04)

University of New Hampshire Summer Youth Music School
-two-week session for those in grades 9-12. $900.

Boston University Institute for Television, Film and Radio Production
A five-week program
-cost in 03, approx. $4000.

Student Conservation Association (SCA)
Tuition-free, 4-6wk volunteer work in National Parks and lands. Age 16 at least.
This is a favorite program of ours!

Outward Bound

A very large variety of programs for young people here, nationwide. Adventures, skill acquisition, leadership for teens of all ages. Canoe, rock climb, hike, etc. etc. Also programs for at-risk youth.

Appalachian Mountain Club (Northeast US)

New England non-profit. Has volunteer opportunities (day, 1week-3wk) as well as Teen Wilderness Adventure Programs. Less expensive than Outward Bound or NOLS.

SOLO Wilderness and Emergency Medicine

-dedicated to teaching Wilderness and Emergency Medicine
-Minimum age is 18, but contact us if you are younger .
-Based in NH, but they travel to give trainings.

National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)

jSummer and semester-long (post HS) outdoor adventures and leadership training, nationwide and worldwide.

Action Quest
Adventure program experience, etc. for teenagers 13-19 grouped by age. Programs are in locations around the world and they specialize in water related activities.

Longacre Expeditions

Phillips Exeter Summer Program (NH)
Summer school (or programs) within private high school campus setting.
-5 weeks, $5000+ for boarding students. Various program offerings. Scholarships.

Brown University Summer Programs (RI)
Summer studies on Ivy League campus in Providence, RI. Various programs.

Jr. Statesman--Summer School
Summer classes designed to develop your knowledge of political systems, your ability to speak and write persuasively, and your appreciation for intellectual and ethical principles.
Choose one of five college campuses: Stanford (CA) Georgetown (Washington, DC), Northwestern (Chicago, IL), Princeton (NJ), Yale (CT).

Ball State University Honors College Summer Program (College of Architecture and Planning)

People To People International
- The purpose is to enhance international understanding and friendship.
In the Student Ambassador Program and the Sports Ambassador Program, students travel abroad to meet with their peers in other countries, participate in homestays, and experience the diverse cultures and history of the desitnations visited j.
-This is a big, multifaceted organization founded in 1956 by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Landmark Volunteers
-2 wk. Volunteer program with volunteer opportunities of all kinds in non-profit national institutions all over the country. Apple if you will be age 14 and a half and entering at least 10th grade by the time your program begins. Apply by March 31 (04) and the cost is $875. After that date cost is $925. Students and earn 20 hours of community service credits. And will receive a written recommendation after completion of the program.

Rotary Youth Exchange
Rotary Youth Exchange: www.exchangestudent.org 1-888-ROTARY-X This website and number serve the eastern states.
Every year thousands of students ages 15 to 19 go abroad under the auspices of the Rotary Youth Exchange program, for the academic year. Living with local families, with the support of local Rotarians, they acquire increased self awareness and a global perspective that is the inevitable result of living within a different culture.

Sea Education Association (Oceanography of the Gulf of Maine, etc.)
-3-week programs (several choices) spent half on an island and half aboard tall ship. Academic in orientation. High school programs available for 10-12th grade students. College credit (and possibly high school credit) can be earned in at least one program. Two programs take place in the Atlantic; one takes place in Pacific Ocean. My daughter attended this program.

-single sex 3-wk canoe adventures in the old way  in Canadian wilderness.

The Putney School (VT)
-Programs in Writing, Visual and Performing Arts, on a 500 acre school (private boarding school during the school year) with farm in VT. This is a wonderful place. I know it well. There are two 3-week summer sessions.

Simon s Rock College of Bard (MA)
-High school students start college after 10th or 11th grade. While your peers at home are receiving high school degrees, you are getting an associate degree---you are half way through college. While a number of colleges admit high school students, this college is attended entirely by high school-age students. So, here, students are studying only with their same-age peers--just as they would be if they were still in high school..

The Oxbow School (CA)
The Oxbow School is a one-semester boarding program for high school juniors and seniors interested in the visual arts. It is set in beautiful wine country north of San Francisco. Studio experience is helpful but not required, for admission.

The Outdoor Academy (NC)
Set in the Blue Ridge Mounatains of North Carolina, this is a one-semester program for tenth grade students. It offers: college preparatory curriculum with an outdoor program, environmental education, regional studies, and the arts .

After Graduation...what next?

Called Gap year,  Bridge Year,  or Interim Year." Students are taking time off after high school before starting college or beginning jobs. Here are a few of the opportunities available. For words of wisdom and encouragement for those considering taking time off, check out the websites of The Interim Program, www.interimprograms.com, or Leap Now, www.leapnow.org. If you can t imagine what you would do after high school except go to work or straight to college, these websites will take care of that problem.

Colleges are increasingly supportive of students interested in deferring admissions. Those admitted to college may, in many cases, hold their place  and attend their chosen institution the following year.

Special consideration should be given by those who have received college scholarships find out what your scholarship status would be if you deferred admission. Also, be aware that parents  health insurance policies through work will usually not cover their dependents if they are not in college full time. However, some post-high school experiences, such as Americorps, offer health insurance as well as education credits. Also, of course, you could purchase your own health insurance privately.

For short term jobs after high school, check out these websites:

Coolworks www.coolworks.com Summer and winter jobs in great places. Look for jobs in National Parks, resorts, ranches, ski resorts, jobs on water.

Back Door Jobs www.backdoorjobs.com Michael Landes has written a wonderful book on Short Term jobs (see book review section) and this website will connect you to jobs, volunteering, work abroad, internships and other extraordinary experiences.

Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association
These ranches (39 of them) hire college students and sometimes those just graduating from high school. Ranches, approved by the association, are regularly inspected to make sure various standards are maintained. They hire waitresses, bartenders, housekeepers, child care workers, landscapers, maintenance help, kitchen help, etc. They hire for the summer and some are open year round. Some provide room and board. Call a ranch and ask to speak to the person who talks with applicants and ask if they are still hiring.

Experiential Years or Semester--for after high school:
For what it would cost to attend a semester of college or in some cases less, try one of these experiential semesters offered by these organizations. College credit may be obtained from some of these programs (depending on the college you plan to attend and their crediting policies). If you don t know what you want to do or be and you need a lot of structure, consider one of these programs:

Dynamy www.dynamy.org. (508) 755-2571 Based in Worcester, MA, Dynamy offers an experiential year of internships three full-time nine week internships, apartment living, community involvement, an Outward Bound course, and lots of guidance.

Leapnow www.leapnow.org
One of LEAP NOW's programs is meant to replace the first year of college or function as a year ON  between high school and college. The year contains formal and informal rites of passage - a vital necessity in a society that does not give its youth markers for the journey into adulthood. Leap Now offers a lot more: they can help you find internships, apprenticeships, jobs and they help adults of all ages design time off (or ON) . Check out their excellent website.

National Outdoor Leadership Program NOLS, www.nols.edu NOLS is the premier teacher of outdoor skills and leadership." NOLS offers 10-day courses as well as semester-long courses--using the wilderness as their classroom--for which many have received college credit.

Outward Bound, www.outwardbound.org Outward Bound has a selection of semester-long programs, college credit worthy, that take place in the US as well as in Central America, and abroad.

Global Quest www.gquest.org
Spend senior semester (earning a full semester of HS credit) fall or spring in Thailand. Or, spend a semester AFTER you ve graduated from high school. From the Global Quest website. :
Our classrooms include Buddhist temples, Bangkok s bustling markets, a renovated rice barge for exploring the Chao Phraya River, national parks throughout the country, the homes of Thai families, Thai schools, and magnificent, ancient Thai ruins. 
GlobalQuest spring semester is planned to bring seniors back in time to graduate and participate in all finishing ceremonies with their classes .

Interlocken at Windsor Mountain www.interlocken.org Their semester-long program is called Bridge Year 
Interlocken, in conjunction with New England College, has researched and developed the Bridge Semester Program, which will provide a transition time for high school graduates who want to gain perspective on who they are, what they believe, who they want to become, where they want to go, and how they think they will get there prior to plunging into a traditional college setting, a job, or the rest of their lives.  Interlocken now to be called Windsor Mountain  has many other programs for high school (and younger) students, as well.

Organizations which can help you design time off for a fee:

Leapnow www.leapnow.org.
--specializing in low cost programs
--semester long programs in places such as India, Central America, Australia and New Zealand
--pay a fee and have them help you design some time off between high school and college.
--parents take note: Want to take some time off from your career. They help adults of all ages.

The Center for Interim Programs www.interprograms.com
--Father and sister to the LeapNow fellows, Interim Program has been in business for decades and has incredible world-wide resources. Let them help you connect with jobs, internships, language programs, volunteer experiences, apprenticeships. The cost of their services is far less than the cost of college; let them help you design a semester or a year that fits your budget and your needs and interests.



Americorps www.americorps.org
You can be an AmeriCorps member with any of the programs that make up AmeriCorps -- national groups like the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and Boys and Girls Clubs, City Year, and local community centers and places of worship. Find the type of program you want in the area you want to serve.  This is a vast program. For starters look up your state on their website to see what Americorps volunteers are doing right around you.
- As an Americorps volunteer you will receive a living stipend, health insurance, over $4,700 in education allowance (to pay off loans, go to college or grad school) as well as incredible experience. Have you wanted to live in another area of the country, but feel too young to try it on your own? Try Americorps.

City Year www.city-year.org
City Year unites a diverse group of 17- to 24-year-old young people for a year of full-time, rigorous community service, leadership development, and civic engagement." Choose a City Year experience in one of many major cities around the country. This is the organization which inspired President Clinton to envision the design for Americorps. It is now one of the many organizations under the Americorps umbrella. Young people receive a living stipend, health insurance and work within teams.

Habitat for Humanity-www.habitat.org
--  AmeriCorps members serve an 11- month term constructing houses with a local affiliate. While in service, AmeriCorps members receive a living allowance and insurance. An education award is granted upon completion of a successful term of service. Opportunities are available to adults age 18 or older who possess a high school diploma or GED. Previous construction, community service and/or leadership experience is helpful but not required for acceptance into this program. 
-Summer Americorps positions are also available for those wishing to be Americorps volunteers while off during college break.

Student Conservation Association www.sca-inc.org
Conservation Internships:
For those 18 and older. Live and work with resource management professionals at natural and cultural sites nationwide. Internships available throughout the year in all fields; terms from three to twelve months. Expenses paid, plus living allowance, travel grant. 
Conservation Corps:
Also for those 18 and older. Trained and supervised by SCA staff, Corps of ten or more provide specialized conservation services in rustic, residential setting. Service terms similar to Conservation Interns. 

Traveling on Your Own--After graduation?

Some ideas:
Hosteling International-www.hiayh.org. This is the offical guide to hostels in Canada and the US. Hostels are cheap interesting places to stay and there is a worldwide network of them. There you ll find incredible resources and will inevitably meet fellow travelers. The website is a great resource for travel resources and information student discount cards, phone cards, etc.. Families can also stay many hostels have family rooms. Check out your state--you'll be surprised that there may be one not far from where you live.

Willing Workers on Organic Farms www.phdcc.com/wwoof
The International WWOOF Association is dedicated to helping those who would like to volunteer on organic farms internationally.
The aims of WWOOF are to ...
-enable people to learn first-hand about organic growing techniques
-to enable town-dwellers to experience living and helping on a farm
-to help farmers make organic production a viable alternative
-to improve communications within the organic movement. 
Some young people travel from farm to farm interspersed with other travel experiences. Research your farms carefully. Experiences vary tremedously. I know several young women (new college grads) who have traveled alone in New Zealand via WOOFing experiences. Adults can do this too!

Volunteers for Peace www.vfp.org. See Free and Low Cost  for further description.

Tuition-Free and Low Cost Programs (and some that pay!)
Among most of the programs I know, there really doesn't seem to be much relationship between the money you spend and the amount of fun and learning or satisfaction you get out of the experience.

In fact, some of my favorite programs also happen to be those with the lowest cost. Programs based on some or all volunteer work often cost less. Also, some of my favorite programs do not require that you be excellent  in any way. Interest on the part of the young applicant is enough for admission to a number of these programs.

Remember that many of the higher-cost programs also have financial aid and/or scholarships. So, no matter what program you are interested in or how fat or thin your bank account is, with a little bit of persistence you will always be able to find programs that will fit your needs. Included here are several that PAY YOU.

In general, those who apply early have the best chances of admission. Start looking into a program even before the first of the New Year.

Appalachian Mountain Club Volunteer Trail Crews
-check this website for dates, costs, ages, location--volunteer crew
-costs are modest (as little as $125/wk). (04) Work is good!
-volunteer crew work, for those as young as 15.
-spend a day, week or two weeks with a crew of others

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps
-GET PAID for your work! Pay is $270-300/wk, depending on position
-Non-Vermonters may apply
-Crews consist of 8-10 between the ages of 16 and 24.
-work (5wks.) takes place state-wide, in Vermont
-work sites may include backcountry trails, Vermont State Parks, river and streams.

Northwest Youth Conservation Corps
-GET PAID for your work!
-work for 5 wks with a team of others and earn $7+/hr. Pay $200 tuition
-provides education, job training and empoyment
-Youth age 16-19 from out of the region may also apply.
-work takes place in the Northwest US
-opportunities available in spring and fall as well as in summer months
-possible work locations (depending on the crew you are in) in Oregon, Washington, Idaho

Student Conservation Association
-tuition-free. You pay transportation to the site.
-Work, for 4-5 weeks, as a volunteer in a team of 6-10 others age 16-19 yrs.
-Work in a national parks (eg. Yellowstone NP, Glacier NP) or forests.
- I know this organization well and I highly recommend SCA.

Volunteers for Peace (VFP)
Over 2400 affordable ($200-$400) international
voluntary service programs in 90+ countries
-VFP offers programs for those age 15-17 in France and for those 16 & 17 in Germany. A number of countries accept those age 17 and older. There are many US programs available, but minimum age to participate is 18 in US.
-work with a crew of others from other nations doing needed work in communities all over the world.

-Note: The staff at VFP are incredibly helpful and friendly. They can send you a list names and numbers of those past participants who would be happy to talk with you. I spoke with one fellow who was age 15 when he went to his program in France with a friend-and loved it.
-VFP publishes an amazing guide listing many of its programs. For a $20 membership fee you will receive this booklet and full website access to all of its programs for the coming season.
-Those younger than 18 may be offered more support getting to the program (i.e. you ll be met at the airport) than those 18 or older. VFP staff can help guide you toward these work camps.
-Work performed in the workcamps is incredibly varied. One can find opportunities in: the arts, working with children, the environment, restoration of historic building, working with elderly, and on and on.
-Because there are so so many programs, you will surely get into one. Ask the VFP staff to help you find one which will suit your needs and interests.
-VFP also has a helpful resource list--of other like-minded programs--for teenage volunteers.

-Some programs take families.

Summer Scholars Program at the University of Minnesota, Morris
-for questions or comments: andersjs@mrs.umn.edu
-two weeks on college campus in Morris, MN
-for those completing 11th grade who are in the top 20% of their class.
-$975 includes two semester college credits
-Take one of two courses:
-"Human Reproduction and Biotechnology: Tinkering With Nature" OR
- Writing Workshop: Growing Up American

Landmark Volunteers

-for those age 14 and a half and entering 10th grade.
-Students work in teams of 14, for two weeks, with an adult leader
-Volunteer work takes place at historical ,cultural, environmental or social service institutions all over the country.Choose from over 50 programs.
-Cost is $875(04). if you apply early. Cost is $925 for later applicants(This does not cover transportation to the site).

Summer Youth Blitz (Habitat for Humanity)
-Service experience for those age 16-18 from all over the US.-
-Cost is $450 (04) for the two-week program. (scholarships are available)
-In two weeks a team of 15-20 youth volunteers (with adult leaders) construct and entire Habitat house.

Oregon Museum of Science
www.omsi.edu (click on Science Camps and Adventures ages 14-18)
-This is a wonderful array of science-based opportunities that are relatively inexpensive. Cost for programs (many are from 5day to two weeks) ranges from approx. $50-$100/day (04).
-Wonderful website that shows cost, length, location, which camps are full, at-a- glance.
-Quite a few different science camp options.
-Family camps available
-Camps also available for younger children.

World Affairs Seminar (Wisconsin-Whitewater)
E-mail: was@worldaffairssemiinar.org
(262) 472-1131 or (888) 404-4049
This is a week long exploration of international issues for one thousand high school juniors from across the world presented by a non-profit, non-partisan organization. Featuring renowned experts, student-led discussions and cultural exchanges, 
Seminar takes place on University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus
-6 days
-Tuition is $355 if received before March 1 (04) and $395 thereafter.
-Program is for those completing 11th grade, but those in 10th or 12th grade may apply for exemptions.
-Great website

MIT Educational Studies Program (HSSP) web.mit.edu/esp/www

Contact: MIT Educational Studies Program, 84 Massachusetts Avenue, W20-467 Cambridge, MA 02139; Tel: (617) 253-4882; E-mail: esp@mit.edu

Application deadline: Registration is in early March. Call, email or visit the website for specifics.

Selection process: First come, first served.

Cost: $30

Age: 9th-12th grade (see SPLASH program, further on, for programs for 7th grade on up)

If you live within 75-100 miles of Boston, here's a great thing to do with your Saturdays in the spring. HSSP is the High School Studies Program, a project of the MIT Educational Studies Program. The traditional HSSP session runs for about ten Saturdays in the spring, with classes usually starting on the first weekend of March.

HSSP offers non-credit, enrichment courses taught by MIT (Massachussetts Institute of Technology) and other college students to 9th-12th grade students on Saturdays at MIT in Cambridge, MA. The number of classes varies from 6 to 12. Students can take courses in a wide variety of topics.

Past HSSP courses have included Expository Writing, Special Relativity, IQ And All That, Programming in C, Bicycle Repair, Combinatorics, Sequences and Series, AP Biology, How Poetry Works, and Combat Math. Classes usually run in the spring and sometimes in the summer. Updates about the next spring session are usually posted on the website around January/February prior to the spring session.

SPLASH is a weekend long program of workshops lectures and seminars offered each November for students in 7-12th grades. Students can participate up to 16 hrs. at a cost of merely $30.

Also, inquire about the SAT Spring Prep offered each spring. This is a huge bargain featuring SAT prep instruction within small classes offered by the MIT community. Cost is $80 (in spring of 2004) and classes run for eight Sundays from 1:30-5p.m.

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