I’m now in my forties when I’m going to be asked to pay for a gap year of adventure for my children. The gap year is that period of time between highschool and higher education at university and college.
Part of me grudges having to shell out money and believe if I am paying up for a big long holiday or a year to enable them to see the world in another light, to experience new work, new folk and new horizons.
And that is the dilemma for me. I had a gap year out after highschool. My gap year was one year enrolling in a military school. And that year is a year I won’t ever forget and a year I turned from boy to man. The experience of army training will last for ever. Work, discipline, respect, time keeping and yes, distinction in ironing shirts!
And I suppose that is what I want of my children. A coming of age experience. A change from boyhood to manhood. The concept of just coughing up for a year’s vacation, travel insurance for students and a blank cheque to go without purpose is what fills me with fear.
My little brother went to America to a summer camp to help out kids. It allowed him to earn cash, work reasonably hard and have enough time to see, experience and travel parts of America.
And on reflection, that is the ideal scenario for my kids. A work conscientiously, play hard experience like my brother had. Whilst my gap year out was a rather extreme one, the query parents ask is ‘how does this experience help you ?’
Don’t just take out the bank book and sign on to what your children demand. Draw on the experiences acquaintances and family members may have had. Contact pals on Facebook and see if you can somehow manage to get your kid work experience in the USA where they can also do a bit of travel.
Student travelling in a year out isn’t something you’ll discover in a travel agency shop window, it is an experience to get them ready them for their years ahead.