by Tom Pedulla –
For teenagers facing an array of summer options, life can become complicated.
For every lifeguard, there may be someone traveling with peers domestically or abroad on a Teen Tour. For every camp counselor sweating beneath the mid-day sun, there may be someone working an unpaid internship or perhaps doing little at all.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of those ages 16-19 in the summer workforce dipped to 41.3 percent in 2017, compared to a high of 57.9 percent in 1979.
The reasons for that are debatable, and the merits of the decisions made are for individuals and perhaps their parents to determine. A sampling of local youngsters who are working, though, pointed to job satisfaction despite modest wages and lost time with non-working friends.
Emma Hickey, 18, views her hours as a lifeguard at Halston House in Tarrytown as a way to prepare for full-time employment after she graduates from Catholic University.
“The summer is about relaxing and stuff,” she said. “But when I’m older, a real job doesn’t end in summer. Honestly, when I’m not working, I sometimes run out of things to do. It’s definitely good for me to keep busy.”
Hickey noted that her parents, Lisa and Tim, strongly influenced her decision to work as they did with her brother, Dillon, 19. He is employed at a bicycle store and earns additional income as a handyman. She believes parents play a key role in this area.
“The people I know who don’t have jobs,” Hickey said, “it’s because their parents give them money, so they don’t feel the need to.”
Kim Chase, 15, of Irvington, seriously considered enjoying a Teen Tour that would have taken her to California, Colorado and other scenic states out West. She decided against it after a conversation with her mother, Suzanne, and gained employment as a day camp counselor at the Shames Jewish Community Center in Tarrytown.
“I wanted to get that work experience,” she said, “so I would know what I could be expecting later in life.”
Others do not view it that way.
“Many of my friends do not have summer jobs. Instead, they are traveling or just hanging out,” Chase said. “We’re still young, and they want to have fun while they can before they have to start worrying about working.”
Ben Oshins, 18, and Jillian Cusick, 17, expressed great satisfaction with their weekday work from 7:45 a.m. until 4 p.m. as camp counselors at the Shames Jewish Community Center.
“You go around and you have so much fun with the kids that you lose track of time,” Oshins said. His experience is so good that he will use his time at the State University of New York at Oneonta to explore careers that would allow him to work with young people.
According to Cusick, she eagerly awaits each day with her campers.
“There is nothing like waking up in the morning and seeing the next crazy thing they say or do,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see, at the beginning of camp, a kid who is shy and not so adventurous, and, by the end, he is playing with everyone and saying hello.”
Then there is Rebecca DiBlasi, 17, a recent graduate of Sleepy Hollow High School. In a small way, she already is doing something to benefit the environment by working for a second consecutive summer as a paid lab assistant at the Yonkers Joint Wastewater Treatment Plant. She tests wastewater samples taken throughout the tri-state area.
“It really shows me a lot of issues being faced in the environment now,” she said.
DiBlasi’s untraditional summer job should prove invaluable. She plans to study environmental engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.