The teenage years are a critical period for personal growth and development. Adolescents often face challenges around self-esteem, building friendships and self-confidence. Recognizing the importance of nurturing confidence in young people, residential summer programmes have emerged as a unique way to help teens build their confidence and self-esteem. In this blog, we’ll explore how summer programmes can help teenagers improve their confidence, enabling them to navigate life’s challenges with greater self-assurance and resilience.
1. Stepping Out of Comfort Zones
Residential summer programmes offer a unique environment where teenagers can step out of their comfort zones and gain new experiences. Even before the programme has started, the journey often begins with a nudge out of one’s familiar territory, as many participants learn to navigate an airport, train or coach station independently for the first time, and eventually arrive at a new and unfamiliar destination.
Every summer programme is different, some focusing heavily on academic development while others are predominantly ‘tour-focused’. A truly impactful programme maintains a holistic balance between academic challenge and time for social growth and ‘play’. A truly transformative programme will bring students out of their comfort zones both in and outside of the classroom such as through practical, hands-on learning experiences, opportunities for team building and collaboration and the chance to explore new places.
By venturing beyond familiar territory, teenagers gain a sense of accomplishment and realize their ability to adapt and thrive in unfamiliar situations.
2. Building Social Skills and Peer Relationships
Teenagers often struggle with social anxieties and the fear of being judged by their peers. A great summer programme provides a supportive and inclusive community where teenagers can connect with like-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds. Through shared activities, teamwork, and time spent together, participants build the foundations of essential social skills, from effective communication to active listening, teamwork, collaboration and beyond.
These interactions foster a sense of belonging, enabling teenagers to form meaningful friendships and cultivate positive relationships, in turn boosting their self-confidence. One parent whose child attended the Immerse Education summer programme stated “My daughter gained new friends, was very excited about her experience and the course definitely improved her motivation.” (Hakki, Immerse Alumni Parent, 2023). Another parent similarly said “I got to see my daughter gain confidence in meeting new people and in the subject she chose to study. I was so glad that I sent her to this programme.” (Adele, Immerse Alumni Parent, 2023).
While teenagers typically spend a great deal of time amongst their peers in school, there is often limited time to build strong relationships and develop social skills due to the emphasis on academic achievement. Yet social skills are an essential part of everyday life, from being able to communicate effectively with colleagues at work to pitching a new idea to your boss. A good residential summer programme will foster friendships and provide ample opportunities for collaboration and the growth of these vital skills.
3. Embracing Leadership Opportunities
A well-organized and impactful summer abroad programme offers participants the chance to take on leadership roles and other responsibilities. Whether it’s leading a team during a workshop or class debate, organizing a talent show, or being a mentor for younger participants, these experiences allow teenagers to develop and showcase their leadership skills. A great programme will also embrace personalized learning opportunities and support students as they lead on their own personal projects and provide tailored feedback which they can use to independently evaluate their work and make improvements.
Connor who attended the Immerse Creative Writing Programme in Sydney last year said “Immerse has helped build my creativity and confidence most when it comes to writing…with Immerse, there’s more of a focus on you and your individual writing that you receive personal feedback on. I feel like it’s enriched me as an individual and it’s helped me with creative writing and gaining confidence in my chosen subject.” (Connor, Academic Insights Sydney, 2022).
By having opportunities where participants can actively contribute to class discussions and make their own informed decisions, teenagers stand to gain a sense of empowerment and recognize their capacity to influence and inspire others. These leadership opportunities nurture self-assurance, as students realize their potential to make a positive impact in various areas of their lives.
4. Engaging in Personal Growth Activities
These unique programmes also offer a range of personal growth activities that empower teenagers to explore their strengths, interests, and talents. From workshops and seminars on building soft skills such as goal-setting and the importance of a growth mindset, to creative arts, sports, and academic pursuits, these courses encourage students to discover and develop their passions in a nurturing environment.
Some residential courses welcome inspirational guest speakers who deliver motivational workshops to students in order to nurture personal growth, such as former Olympian Abi Oyepitan who visited Immerse Education participants in 2020, or most recently Sarah Outen (2022), an inspiring athlete who completed her London2London Via the World expedition, a mammoth attempt to row, cycle and kayak 25,000 miles around the Northern Hemisphere.
Through opportunities for further personal growth, teenagers will gain a deeper understanding of their abilities and acquire a sense of pride in their achievements, contributing to a heightened sense of self-awareness and confidence.
5. Overcoming Challenges and Building Resilience
Residential summer programmes often present teenagers with various challenges – academically, physically and mentally. A great summer school challenges participants in their subject knowledge and skills, enhances their social development and builds their confidence in overcoming challenges.
Whether it’s delivering a personal project in front of their peers and tutor or adapting to a new environment, these experiences test participants’ resilience. By overcoming obstacles and persevering through setbacks, teenagers learn to bounce back from adversity and develop greater self-belief. The realization that they can overcome challenges fosters resilience, fortifying their confidence to face future hurdles with determination.
A great summer abroad programme provides teenagers with a transformative platform to enhance their confidence and self-assurance. By stepping out of their comfort zones, building social skills, embracing leadership opportunities, engaging in personal growth activities, and overcoming challenges, teenagers stand to gain incredibly rewarding experiences that will positively shape them for life.
The newfound confidence acquired through these programmes equips teenagers with the necessary tools to navigate the complexities of adolescence and beyond. As they grow into young adults, the confidence gained in these summer programmes becomes an invaluable asset, empowering them to pursue their dreams, overcome obstacles, and embrace the full potential of their abilities.
To learn more about Immerse Education residential summer programmes, visit their website.