For your aspiring college student, nothing rounds out a stellar academic performance like a solid history of service. Scholarship committees, particularly those who award the endowed scholarships, like to know that their money is going to someone with a history of giving back. With summer coming, your student will have time on their hands to give back to the community so in this post we’ll look at some of the opportunities in your back yard or halfway around the world.
- Your child could participate in a Habitat for Humanity project. If you live in a mid to large-sized town, there should be several projects going on at any one time. You can find more information at http://www.habitat.org.
- Nursing homes are always eager to have young people to visit with the residents. Your son or daughter can read to the residents, visit and talk with them, or share a particular talent they may have. Find a home online in your local area and call the coordinator for more information.
- Community projects, like playground or park cleanup efforts, are a good one-time activity that lets your child participate on a Saturday. Look for these events to be posted on local signs, businesses, or in the community newspaper.
- Your teenager might participate as an assistant coach for a child’s sports team like baseball or basketball. This is a solid opportunity to develop leadership skills as well as teach some skills to up and coming kids. Check with the local youth recreation organization to find out more about this.
- To continue the theme of mentoring younger children, your teenager might be a tutor, ambassador, or student aid in the local elementary or middle school. As part of the development process for these younger kids, schools look for role models that have come through the system and can represent the system well.
- Maybe your child wants to pursue career interests. While finding a paying job might be a challenge, doing an unpaid internship or assistantship can be an excellent service opportunity. It also gives them a chance to see if their career interests in a particular field are worth pursuing. Universities and private businesses in the area are the best candidates for this opportunity.
- Churches across America put on Vacation Bible School during the summer. Typically a week-long event, they are always on the lookout for teens who can help out. Churches also typically participate in a food pantry or soup kitchen ministry to the local needy or homeless. Teens are always welcome to help distribute food at these venues.
- For animal lovers, your local zoo might be a possibility for a service opportunity. During the higher-traffic summer months they use volunteers for any number of tasks to help the full-time staff. Animal shelters are mostly non-profit and could use your child’s help. Find their website and contact them for more information.
- Summer camps are filled with activities that teens could help with if they are unable to secure a paid camp worker spot. Check with the camps in your area.
- Summer festivals are always in need of volunteers, and your child can benefit from free admission and other perks of helping the organization put on their event. As news of the event comes out, find their website for contact information.
- Fundraising activities like Light The Night and other events always need volunteers. As with other one-time events, consult with the website to learn more.
- Thinking more globally, there are mission opportunities around the globe that your church may participate in. These can be more costly because of the transportation and lodging involved, but they can be a wonderful teaching tool for your child to understand the challenges facing people in other countries. Raising money for such a trip is also a good character-building exercise. Check with your church and begin to plan early as immunizations, passports, and other requirements will have to be met.
Whatever activities your child participates in, they need to connect with a sponsor or supervisor who can validate their work if necessary. I also recommend finding something that your child can get excited about instead of just going through the motions. They might be called upon to relate their story to others, so hopefully their experiences will make an impression on them and they can take something of value from their service. The service credit earned might satisfy some scholarship requirement, but it is the memories and the experience that will impact your child and make a difference in their life.
Question – Is my child getting adequate exposure to the problems facing the world around them? Do they understand the importance of giving back?