It can be fun just to travel and explore new places by yourself, or with friends, but here are some ideas if you want to base your trip around something specific.
Organised Activity Camps
The YHA organises a range of summer activity camps designed for 10-19 year olds and based at their hostels in Derbyshire, Shropshire and Devon; perfect if you like outdoor adventure challenges
Special interest summer schools
If you have a particular skill or interest, such as music, fashion, drama or sport, try developing it and meeting like-minded people on a residential summer school or workshop.
Some – such as the National Youth Music Theatre or the National Youth Orchestra require audtions, but many do not. Some are hugely expensive, but others, run more by enthusiasts than commercial operators, may be more affordable.
There are also some academic summer schools designed to help you prepare for university- see more about them on our education pages here.
They may sound like an oxymoron, but a working holiday – either volunteering or for payment – offers lots of advantages:
- they are a low cost way of discovering new places and experiencing new things
- you have the security of being in an organised programme
- you will meet new people and learn new skills
- you can try new things with new friends in your time off
- you can include it on your cv or personal statement when you’re applying for jobs, apprenticeships or university
Volunteer working holiday programmes generally offer simple board and lodging in return for some practical work. You will have to pay a contribution to the cost. Try:
- The National Trust This leading UK conservation charity organises a range of working holidays. Their Youth Discovery programme is designed specifically for 16-18 year olds and combines practical conservation work, often in beautiful locations, with social activities. The National Trust for Scotland runs similar Trailblazer camps for 16 and 17 year olds.
- An archaeological dig Some current excavations are listed here. Different digs offer different residential and day options. They tend to be quite expensive, and are often limited to 16 or 17+ – but if you’re interested in history and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, they can be a fascinating opportunity.
- Volunteering Matters . This UK charity runs summer heritage camps for young people aged 16-25 and full-time volunteer placements for 18-35 year olds, living away from home for 6-12 months.
- The National Citizen Service, supported by the UK Government. This runs spring, summer and autumn programmes for 15-17 year olds. They combine living away with some local voluntary work and cost only £50.
Paid work options include:
- Working in a UK summer camp – see some suggestions for different roles here. For some roles you have to be at least 18, but you might find something if you’re 16, particularly if you have coaching or instructor qualifications or experience
- Working at a festival – many festivals offer a free pass and accommodation in return for work – a few hours a day spent litter-picking for example. Some might pay you as well. Most require you to be at least 18 however – see more here
Festivals can be fun to go to with your friends, but do your research carefully; the idea is to enjoy yourself rather than feel scared or overwhelmed. Different festivals have very different atmospheres. Check that the festival is suitable for your age group, that you will be allowed to camp without an adult, and make sure you are fully prepared! Most festival websites have useful advice on what to expect and you need to take.
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