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Summer is coming and that means free time for lots of kids. When they’re not going off to camp, there’s plenty of time for going off for the day with friends, taking in some of the many attractions that Boulder County, and Denver too, has to offer. But hey, those things don’t pay for themselves, and what child doesn’t want a bit of money of their own in their pocket? When you’re growing up, that sense of independence that comes from having your own money is vital and, to coin an expression picked up from generations of parents and grandparents, children need to learn the value of a dollar.S
There are plenty of options for summer jobs, and many of them can be fun. Amusement parks like Water World are always looking for seasonal temporary employees, and Water World itself is hiring 1000 people this year. Water World Spokesperson Joann Cortéz said is a press release, “For many, this is their first job and we are dedicated to providing a meaningful work experience for the kids that make the team.”
Elsewhere in that same press release, it says, “Hiring for most positions begins at 15 years of age or older. Applications for some positions will be accepted from 14 year old applicants, however hiring and interview preference will be given to those 15 and older. Water World lifeguards must be certified through National Aquatics Safety Company and classes are held on site for those who are not yet certified, and want to be. Detailed information on available positions, rates of pay, age minimums and more is on the Water World website.”
Here’s the thing—it’s much harder to make money when you’re under 14. Under 15 even. That’s where you have to use your imagination a little. The classic means of making money when you’re approaching your teens but haven’t quit reached them, or for those in their early teens, is to do yard work in their neighborhoods, or to babysit.
Yard work can be lucrative because, let’s face it, working adults hate doing it. Here in Boulder County, where there is plenty of disposable income to go around, most neighborhoods will have yards that, to the youngsters, are goldmines. Mow the lawn, whack those weeds, trim the trees, and name a fair price. You can usually ask for $10 per hour. The only issue might be competing kids but, hey, just do a better job. Word travels fast. You can ask for a little more too if you convince your dad to let you use his gear – the lawnmower, weed whacker, hoe, etc – plus, you look more professional.
Talk good talk. Don’t feel intimidated bartering with adults, because they need you as much as you need the money. Be charming and mildly cocky. Practice on your parents first, because the more professional your operation appears to be, the more impressed the adults with money will be.
Babysitting is tougher because, well, allowing a child that you don’t really know do yard work while you’re looking out of the kitchen window is one thing. Leaving a toddler with a 12-year-old (the legal age) while you go somewhere else is another thing entirely. Generally, it starts with babysitting the child of a couple that your parents know. If you do a good job and prove yourself trustworthy, then again, word gets around.
There are courses that prospective babysitters can take–basic training so that the youngsters can learn basic first aid. There are smart things that parents can do – like leaving their cell numbers, the doctor’s number, poison control, etc, on the fridge.
A list of dos and don’ts on Kidzworld.com mentions avoiding using the phone all night, and not feeding the child hard candies, hot-dogs and peanuts. Meanwhile, you should plan activities like board games and coloring.
The other classic American means of making money for young people is flipping burgers. While Boulder County is notoriously health-conscious, there is still plenty of opportunity to throw some slabs of meat onto a grill and a make a few books.
Parents want their children to understand what real work is, and what it means to really earn a buck. That balance between not wanting our children to go without but also not wanting to spoil them can be a tightrope. However, when a child has worked a shift in a hot kitchen with oil spitting everywhere, they certainly know what it means to means to earn money. It might seem harsh, but the flipside is that there is no better feeling than spending the hardest-earned dollars.
It’s character building too; often times, there will be a manager or waiting staff yelling orders, and that can be more than a little intimidating. Some parents might balk at the idea of their child being screamed at by a strange adult, but it’s a scene setter for the future. They can deal with nearly anything after that.
That said, when the weather is warm, there are far more pleasurable ways to make money in the sun. If your child is a strong swimmer, then lifeguarding is a very real option. There may be certifications to take into consideration, but once the necessary red tape is successfully navigated, there are few nicer summer jobs around here.
Maybe not quite as refreshing but also nice during the warm weather is working on a local farm or ranch. Working with horses is heaven for plenty of BoCo children, although the sheer volume of manual labor that this work entails is something that has to be considered. Horses are all very beautiful until you’ve spent the day shoveling their poop in the sun.
Of course, there are many more options, from store work to internet opportunities. What we do know is that there are few things more satisfying, for parents or (long-term) for the kids, than a summer job. Don’t pander to them, and pay for everything. It doesn’t help. Give them the opportunity to feel that elation that comes with treating yourself.