For the last couple of years, Jennifer Lynn has been at that awkward age when it comes to summer. She is 15, and like most 13 to 15 year-olds, she is too old for summer camps but too young to get a job.

Even though summer meant that she wouldn’t have any Trig homework or a stack of current events to summarize for World History, ever since we moved from Petaluma this year, the thought of being stuck in a condo in Cotati was making summer look pretty bleak to her. Sure, she could walk from our place to downtown Cotati but unless she wanted to get a tattoo along the way, the shopping and socializing prospects are slim compared to downtown Petaluma.

So she applied to the ArtStart program with the hope that it would be her ticket out of Cotati for the summer. It sounded great to her; she wants to pursue art in college so here was an opportunity to do real commissioned art on the streets of Santa Rosa.

“Wouldn’t this look great on a college resume! And I get paid! And think how cool it will sound when I tell all my friends how I spent my summer vacation!” She didn’t exactly say those words, but when she rushed to the mailbox every day for two weeks to see if an acceptance letter was waiting, it was obvious that that was what she was thinking.

She hadn’t spent her paycheck yet but she definitely had taken ownership of the bragging rights.

On Saturday, the thin letter came and as anyone who has had a child apply to college knows, if the envelope only requires 45 cents in postage, it’s not good news. She took the rejection pretty hard.

Like any subjective decision, it’s impossible to know how the kids’ portfolios were evaluated. One thing I do know for sure, is that she only found out about ArtStart a little more than a week before the application was due so she didn’t have much time to get a portfolio together and she was probably competing against some very talented 18 year-olds with awesome portfolios that they had created in their AP art class.

So, it’s going to be Plan B for the summer: since she didn’t get into ArtStart, she will spend a couple of weeks with her older sister in Southern California. It definitely won’t add to her resume and there’s no pay involved but at least she can tell her friends that she visited her college age sister over the summer which sounds a lot better than spending it with her AARP parents.

Will it make for an impressive story? No. But at least it will be respectable.