When you mention the word “volunteer” to your teenager, your suggestion may be met with moans of resistance. However, volunteering is a very worthy and valuable way for your teen to fill his or her free time. The key to convincing your teenager that volunteering is a good idea is to find a volunteer opportunity that speaks to their talents and interests. Once your teen realizes that volunteering can actually be fun, they may surprise you by seeking out volunteer opportunities on their own.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is one of the nation’s leading volunteer organizations. Habitat for Humanity builds homes for families in need. They serve communities across the country, so it is highly likely that you can find a Habitat project near your home town. Volunteering for Habitat for Humanity is a great way for your teens to make a real, tangible difference in your community. Teenagers like the physical activity of constructing a house, and it is very rewarding to meet the family who will live in the home and see the final product at the end of the week.
Local nursing homes are always in need of volunteers. Teenagers can volunteer at nursing homes to help with light administrative duties, food preparation, or simply spend time with the residents of the facility. Teens can read to residents, play games and cards, or just sit and talk with those who live at the facility. Volunteering at a nursing home is a great option for outgoing teens, as well as those who are a bit more shy and reserved. Chances are good that your teen will make an unexpected friend during the time that he spends at the home.
Animal shelters represent a great volunteer opportunity for volunteers of all ages. Volunteers are always needed to play with the pets at the shelter, walk dogs, clean cages, feed, and bathe the animals. If your teen is an animal lover, volunteering at a local animal shelter is a great way to fill his or her free time and make a real difference in the lives of animals in the community.
If your teen is too old to attend summer camp, but not old enough to be a counselor, why not consider volunteer opportunities? Volunteers are always welcome as counselors-in-training. Many camps also invite volunteers to lead classes and activities, such as sports, games, and arts and crafts. Contact both overnight camps and day camps in your area to see if they are in need of volunteers for the summer session.
Your teen can make a real difference in the lives of others by volunteering at a hospital. Volunteer opportunities abound at local hospitals. Your teen can volunteer to be a candy striper, helping hospital staff with basic nursing and cleaning duties. They can also volunteer to be a patient advocate or support person and spend their time visiting the patients, bringing books and treats, and even playing with the children in the pediatric ward.