Living indoors, connected to a screen, it’s easy for the months and years to blur together.

The seasons used to matter more.

But for young adults, they still do. Transitions are built around the seasons, and the headlong rush to a career is still sometimes interrupted by months where there’s a chance to reset and to grow.

If you know someone who’s a few months away from one of these in-between summers, I hope you’ll forward this to them.

While it’s tempting to see a summer as a break, simply a chance to rest up and recharge, the ones we end up remembering and treasuring are the foundational ones. The projects that changed us, largely because we helped someone else grow, because we built something or became something or did something worth our effort.

I’m helping my friends up north recruit and train a few instructors and staff for the summer. Click here for the details.

If you’re not in a position to do that, here’s a starter list of some projects you can do right where you are, without needing to apply. Advance planning helps a lot, though.

  • Take an intensive two-week course in AI and LLM and then teach it to local businesses or kids in the neighborhood.
  • Volunteer at a local non-profit and rebuild their website and rewrite their fundraising emails.
  • Organize and run a literacy program for kids at the local library.
  • Start a local radio station/TV station where you work with others to create, write, edit and publish a new episode every day online.
  • Join an open source community and earn the trust to contribute useful code.
  • Start a simple business–offer neighbors the chance to turn their clutter into cash by organizing a weekly blockwide tag sale, or open a store on eBay.
  • Commit to 60 days of contribution to get out the vote, organizing your peers to create a powerful force for good.
  • Build and renovate houses with the Fuller Center or another local group.
  • Work with the local rec center to develop an outdoor learning program for kids for the summer.

Pigeonholes are for pigeons. The magic of a summer of contribution is that you get to try on a new hat to see if it fits. We all have more agency than we want to admit.