Summer Ideas from Seaport Academy
A Time to Decompress, Have Fun and Grow
Seaport Academy director Alex Tsonas shares that for the majority of the young men at the school, the summer break is a much-needed time for them to “decompress” from academics. While older students have the chance to take courses at a local community college, students are much more likely to take advantage of the therapeutic support offered.
At least one-third to one-half of the students use the school’s clinical services in between school years. For students with social-emotional and mental health challenges, like those at Seaport, this is an important component of getting ready for the next school year.
“What ends up happening is our clinicians look at our enrollment and target certain students who need that extra support throughout the summer,” explains Alex. “That could look like check-ins, that could look like weekly counseling sessions, that could look like, ‘Hey let's go get a cup of coffee.’”
Alex advises caregivers to not allow clinical support to “fall away for the summer.” He says, “It doesn't necessarily have to look like what they get over the course of the year, but they should get something. It could happen weekly. It could happen once a month. They could have a brief check-in; they do some more in-depth stuff.”
Of course, students look at summer as a time to have fun, Alex reminds us. Therapeutic camps may be the answer for young people who need added structure in their week – while they enjoy the outdoors and nonacademic activities.
Summer also offers students the opportunity to work without having to worry that their studies might suffer. “For my guys,” Alex shares, “money is a pretty important thing, and sometimes if it's a matter of either working or coming to school, working is more important because they need a place to live.” Working for the summer – whether to provide for basic needs or college tuition – also teaches students critical life skills from time management to critical thinking to clear communication.
Being able to secure therapeutic support, employment, camp or other summertime activities takes time. Alex suggests that caregivers of students with social-emotional and mental health challenges begin planning for the summer during the winter and spring.
“Connect with somebody in your school, whether it be a guidance counselor, an adjustment counselor or whoever is the right person early,” he recommends. “There are a lot of opportunities and a lot of places that will provide you also with financial aid for programs and camps.” Summer can be a time to learn and grow, but caregivers should begin to help their students plan early for a great summer. According to Alex, when your students start the 2023-24 school year, you will want to start thinking about the next summer within a few months.