Entertaining teens at the cottage

By Cottage LifeCottage Life


Photo by Carolyne Chartrand


The Question

We recently bought a cottage and my 16-year-old stepdaughter hates going up. We tried to bring her friends up with her but they were still bored—the highlight of the weekend for the girls was finding reception on their cell phones. Do you have any suggestions on how to entertain 16-year-old girls? I'm a first-time cottager and step-mom and am pretty clueless as to what to do.

—Shari Dame

The Answer

Depending on what your teenager is like, this can be a tough one. Our digital director, Sue Haas, says the solution is finding some teenage boys.

Don’t want to do that? We understand. Here are some suggestions from Myléne Tomkin, a longtime cottager and Cottage Life employee.

These ideas can apply to all teenagers.

  • Encourage her to bring friends.
  • If she’ll be spending a lot of weekends at the cottage or even the entire summer, encourage her to get a job on the lake. I worked in the general store at the marina, pumping gas and driving the water taxi. Did I ever make a lot of friends fast!  It was the best way to get to know everybody on the lake. And as soon as you know people, you’re getting invited to go waterskiing, to parties and bonfires, to the regatta, etc.
  • Try hosting a party. It could be something simple, like inviting people over mid-afternoon, providing nibblies and bevvies, and organizing a couple of activities like volleyball or horseshoes. You, the newbies, get to meet adults and teenagers alike and the parents get to see who their kids are going to be hanging out with.
  • If your new cottage was a resale, perhaps there’s some leftover stuff you’d like to get rid of. Have a dock sale! Your teenager can help out, meet a ton of people, and make a little cash on the side.
  • Try a compromise. Ask her to go to the cottage every other weekend or book a few weekends for her to come up throughout the season. When you’re 16, it can be pretty tough leaving your social life every weekend to go to a place where you have yet to make any friends.
  • As tough as this may be, ask her to toss the cell phone and reconnect with the family for a few days. Isn’t that why we spend time at our cottages? If she always has the distraction of a cell phone, iPad, etc. she won’t get “out there” and learn to enjoy the cottage. Having her create her own fun with benefit her in the long run. She might sulk at first, but a little pain is worth the gain.

To all the other parents out there: How have you entertained teenagers at the cottage? Share your ideas in the comments.




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Dec. 10, 2011

1:45 pm

It is difficult for all of us, for some the Lake House is paradise others well they are quite happy in their own setting and love the city or area they feel most comfortable in. For them to adapt to lake living may take years, a lifetime or in some cases never. You may find yourself throwing money at the problem buying jet skis, boats, atv's with little or no benefit. Girls especially at 16 OMG , they are meant to be at the mall, seeing their piers, being seen by BOYS !! This is difficult, it is not the same as if they grew up on the lake or in cabin country where isolation and the demographics of middle aged couples come for a retreat. Look at the demographics of your get a way before buying if there are no teenagers then your teenagers will surely not be happy. Bon Fires, and get togethers with the old folks will not suffice with todays" We Need Constant Stimulation Generation " Just My Humble Opinion !



Aug. 30, 2011

11:29 am

Get them out to meet other kids on the lake. If they have friends on the lake there will be a reason for them to come and have fun. Go to the lake Regattas or any other events where you can meet people. Generally if you see kids at a dock about the same age as yours they are usually in the same situation and would love to meet new kids on the lake. Drive up and introduce yourselves, you might be surprised at how friendly cotttagers really are.



Aug. 30, 2011

11:25 am

We have 2 sons 18 and 16 for the past 3 summer we have been at the cottage from the day the got out of school until the night before they were to return to school. That worked for a while but this last summer was very trying as they just want to be at home with their friends. The only solution is to bring their friends along. This keeps them happy as when they get there they are always outside canoeing, kayaking , swimming, waterskiing, wakeboarding, atving, having campfires and saunas , among other things. i believe the electronic games and cell phones have ruined the cottage experience for this generation. When the boys were young we would be up every other week throughout the summer and never had a tv. We played board games, monopoly would run on for days. They still to this day will pull out a board game to play with their friends as it is a novelty for those who have not been raised playing board games. Favourites are of course monopoly, rummoly, upwards and labarinth. When they were younger they would catch frogs, snakes or whatever else they could catch and keep it for a pet for a day or two at a time. They would fish and swim the day away. The absolute best 100 dollars I ever spent was on a dump truck load of beach sand dumped beside the cottage and everyone who came right up to young teenagers would play in that pile of sand for hours. Another idea for tweens and young teens is to start a business at the lake. Our sons made gourmet cookies and delivered and sold them dock to dock. Over the summer it kept them busy , the cottagers loved them...think about it ...a nice sunny day as you relax on the dock mid afternoon you get the munchies and low and behold a boat arrives at your dock with fresh baked cookies...no one can resist! It also teaches them some money sense and at the end of the summer, after almost 1000 cookies they have some spending money well earned. They also sold a cooler full of cookies at the annual Regatta. We still get requests for cookies as they have not done it for a few summers as they have now gotten a job working at the marina for a few summers. It is tough to keep them coming and be happy. Also ....involve them in meal preparation and clean up especially when their friends come up. As i say i am not running a hotel or a restaurant...Everyone helps out, and i have never had any complaints as city kids are just happy to get an invite to a cottage to enjoy things that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to do.



Aug. 25, 2011

1:40 pm

Get a few kayaks.

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