Everybody knows I don't believe in free rides. My own kids know that and have given up on complaining about flying coach on family vacations. If they want to sit with me at the front of the plane in first-class, they're more than welcome to...as long as they pay for their own ticket!
I encourage all parents to set these boundaries early and teach their children the value of a dollar. The easiest way to do that is by encouraging them to get a job as soon as they hit working age.
Don't worry: I'm not going to suggest you send your kid off to work on a bumper-making machine line or strapped to a dangerous harness, washing windows high in the city skies. Below are some safe summer jobs that can actually be quite lucrative.
1. Golf Caddy
There's a fortune waiting at the neighborhood golf course. Most caddies earn between $50 and $100 a bag. Though your child will have to be on his or her feet four to five hours at a time, the work is fairly straightforward: carrying bags, cleaning balls and repairing divots. If your son or daughter is an extra-eager caddie who is willing to work a double shift, he or she can rake in as much as $200 to $300 a day.
2. Product Merchandiser
You know those smiling young people handing out samples at the grocery store? Those are product merchandisers. They also restock the shelves and take inventory. It's a good, safe job with the perk of being indoors during the steamy summer months. And it usually pays slightly over minimum wage, averaging $12.50 an hour.
3. Camp Counselor/Life Guard
What's summer without summer camp? If your teen goes to work every day in a fun, vibrant environment, he or she will be much more excited to get out of bed in the morning. The pay isn't usually great, but the community of people can make up for it. And we all know that being a lifeguard carries plenty of cultural cachet. The American Red Cross Lifeguard program allows kids to be certified at age 15. Talk about a great way to teach your teenager about responsibility: They'll actually be safe guarding peoples' lives.
4. Summer Entrepreneur
If campfires aren't your kids thing, encourage your son or daughter to apply to an entrepreneur camp instead. Programs like Camp BizSmart in Silicon Valley and Forward Thinking Initiatives' Teen Business and Innovation Camp in Tampa, Florida give youth the opportunity to get traction on a business idea.
Your son or daughter will benefit from networking, mentorship, and collaboration, not to mention a chance to brainstorm with other creative minds. If your child has expressed an interest in owning a small business someday, this could be the perfect way to get them started.
5. Youth Conservation Corps.
The Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) is an 8-to-10-week summer program that gives teenagers the opportunity to protect and preserve the national parks. The YCC hires several hundred 15-to-18-year-olds each year to do everything from repairing trails and bridged to removing invasive plants to teaching environmental education programs.
Your teenager will get valuable experience and a great boost to the resume. My wife Linda worked in a similar program when she was 16; she spent her summer on the lake, greeting the boaters as they came in, tying up their boats, and selling them a pass to go through the locks for the day. She absolutely loved it. The first summer she applied, she didn't get the job so encourage your child to be persistent.
Does your teenager have a passion for helping the elderly? Consider finding a way to monetize his or her skills. He or she will need to be upfront about her age and her lack of professional training, but there are plenty of positions for non-medical assistants. This could take the form of helping an elderly neighbor or relative, or offering services to a seniors' facility. Many centers are always on the lookout for young, bright people to come in and interact with their residents.