Summer, at long last, is here! Parents and kids alike are ready to leave school routines and pressures behind for a while. Of its many joys, the extended summer break offers families a chance to reconnect.
Vacations and sporting events are great but they aren't the only way to spend quality time together. Volunteering as a family also is a wonderful way to have fun and enjoy each other’s company, all while making your community a kinder, better place. Here are some tips for summer volunteering:
1. Call a family meeting to talk about volunteering as a family. Ask your kids what they’d like to do, and offer some suggestions yourself. Do you want to serve at a local homeless shelter once a weekly or monthly? Do you have a neighbor or relative who needs help with yard work? Is there a fundraising walk/run/event for a cause your family wants to support? If you’re looking for ideas, call your church or check online to see who’s in need in your community.
2. Review all of your summer plans (work, vacation, camps, sports). Decide on how often and when you can volunteer together, and put those times on the calendar.
3. Gather all the information on your chosen volunteer opportunity. Do you need to attend some training first? Are there special guidelines to follow while you’re volunteering (clothing and other gear, arrival times, etc.)? Before you load up and head out, remind your kids of the guidelines and make sure everyone’s prepared.
4. If your kids have school service learning requirements, make sure to get the appropriate forms completed so they’ll get credit.
5. Plan to grab dinner or a special treat right after your volunteer opportunity to talk about what your kids liked and learned. Decide on your next family volunteer opportunity.
Summer passes quickly. Don’t pass up the opportunity to teach your kids the blessing of serving others while spending quality time with you. Your kids — and your community — will be better for it!
Laura Holmes Buddenberg joined Father Flanagan's Boys' Home in January 2000. As a training manager at Boys Town, Buddenberg works as an administrator, writer and trainer, specializing in teen dating and relationships, media awareness, family spirituality, abuse and other issues affecting today's families.