Can I get a volunteer?: How kids benefit from serving their community

Mitchell teaches at-risk youths how to sail a tall ship. Carly interprets the life of a 19th-century child. And Haley walks dogs at an animal shelter. What do these three kids have in common? They’re among the estimated 15.5 million young people who participate in volunteer activities. And like many others, these three kids are finding they get back more than they give through volunteering. Here are some of the benefits they’ve found (and your child could gain, too):

Discovery of new interests

Mitchell Smith hadn’t done any sailing before he joined the Topsail Program at the Los Angeles Maritime Institute at age 12. But now his mom says he loves being aloft aboard the 100-foot brigantines.

“He found a passion for sailing,” says Mitchell’s mom, Sandy. “It opened him up to a whole new world.”

In fact, Mitchell often volunteers as an excuse to get in more sailing. In a word, he’s hooked.

Volunteering gives kids a chance to try new things. In the process they can uncover talents and interests they hadn’t been aware of. Some may even go on to pursue college studies and careers inspired by their volunteer experiences.

Increased confidence

Youth volunteers gain valuable exposure to interacting with the public they couldn’t get anywhere else. It requires them to exercise their communication and public-speaking skills. In turn, this fosters confidence as students see the positive impact of their interactions.

Carly Mulder, a junior interpreter at the Naper Settlement living history museum in Naperville, Ill., learned early on that part of her role involved greeting museum visitors and fielding questions about the games and other activities she demonstrates. Karin, Carly’s mom, notes she has seen Carly’s confidence improve from her involvement at the museum.

“She’s learning how to interact with the public and how to have confidence in dealing with other people.”

Wearing a costume and imagining herself as a person from a different era helped. So did special training provided by the museum.

Even behind-the-scenes roles can instill confidence as kids find success in completing the tasks they’re given. And connecting with fellow volunteers and coordinators can be enough to help reticent youngsters come out of their shells and develop valuable social skills. For some kids, simply the act of sharing their time and being valued for their service can build self-assurance.

Broadened perspective on life

Volunteer experiences also give kids a chance to get outside of their neighborhood and have contact with people who are different from them. Whether at a museum or a food pantry, volunteering opens up children’s horizons. It exposes them to more of the world — in a controlled environment where they can feel safe.

Haley McDonald’s mom, Bobbie, has involved her in a variety of volunteering experiences since a young age, including one while on vacation in the Dominican Republic.

“We went to a farm and helped with a project,” explains Bobbie. “It was a huge, broadening experience — seeing that everyone doesn’t live the way you live.”

Responsibility

While many volunteer opportunities are one-time events, kids can also sign up for regular shifts. Being committed to an ongoing position requires taking responsibility. Mitchell’s mom points out that it makes him prioritize his activities. He has to decide whether he’ll sign up for a sailing shift or do something else. And Carly’s mom sees how it has helped her daughter learn the importance of following through on obligations.

Kids also often get the opportunity to have increased responsibility in the role they play and the tasks they perform in their position as a volunteer. Mitchell has learned how to sail a tall ship, and also teaches others. And Carly hopes one day to move up to giving tours in one of the museum’s buildings.

Enjoyment

When kids find a volunteer position that fits them well, the common response is, “It doesn’t feel like work.” When the position and the child’s interests match, to them it’s more like a chance to get out and play. This in turn can be a good step in helping them discover their vocation.

Taking along a friend, as Haley frequently does, adds to the experience as well. In fact, group settings can be a good introduction to a volunteer experience, such as through a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop or church youth group. When kids have fun during an initial stint, they’re more likely to sign up again in the future. And after a while, they’re signing up because it’s something they enjoy.

Don’t underestimate what your child might have to offer an organization as a volunteer. And don’t underestimate the positive impact that experience can have on him. As these three young people have found, there’s a lot to be gained by giving your time to a local organization.

Lara Krupicka is a freelance writer and mom to three girls. She enjoys watching her daughters grow through volunteer experiences.

Organizations accepting youth volunteers

If your child isn’t sure where she would like to volunteer, here are a few good places to start:

• Hospitals (think candy stripers)

• Animal shelters

• Museums

• Food pantries

• Libraries

For other opportunities, check out www.volunteermatch.org, an online searchable database of organizations looking for volunteers. (It allows you to search for kid- and teen-friendly openings.)

Tips on getting started

1. Look for a one-time opportunity to try out the concept of volunteering, such as at a food pantry.

2. Volunteer side by side with your child. It can be a good bonding experience and models the spirit of volunteerism.

3. Watch for chances to pair your child’s interests with a service activity.

4. Try, try again. If the first experience doesn’t work, look for another place for your child to serve.

5. Take a long-term view. If you value service to others, continue helping your child get involved in volunteering. As Dr. Bobbie McDonald (a doctor of psychology and mother of a youth volunteer) points out, “Anything you involve kids in on a regular basis, they’re likely to continue into adulthood.”

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TADA! Youth Theater

<div> <p dir="ltr"><strong>TADA! Youth Theater Summer Camps (July 10-August 25, 2023)</strong> Gotta Sing! Gotta Dance! TADA! is excited to be back in person with our popular Week-long Musical Theater Summer Camps!  Every week your child will:</p> <p dir="ltr"> </p> <ul> <li>ENGAGE IN MUSICAL THEATER TRAINING</li> <li>CREATE, REHEARSE & PERFORM AN ORIGINAL MINI- MUSICAL</li> <li>EXPLORE THEIR INTERESTS AND IDENTITY</li> <li>SHARE THEIR VOICE AND BE HEARD</li> <li>RECEIVE INDIVIDUALIZED ATTENTION AND SOLO OPPORTUNITIES</li> <li>EXPERIENCE ENSEMBLE-BASED INSTRUCTION BY TWO PROFESSIONAL NYC TEACHING ARTISTS</li> <li>MAKE CONNECTIONS WITH NEW FRIENDS</li> </ul> On the last day of camp, we invite friends and family to attend the debut of your child’s original mini-musical!<br /> <p> </p> <p dir="ltr">Limited spots available! All of our classes take place in-person at 15 W. 28th Street (between Broadway & 5th) and culminate in a final sharing for an invited audience.  </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>For more info or to register for our Summer Camps, visit our website <a href="https://tadatheater.com/summercamps/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://tadatheater.com/summercamps/&source=gmail&ust=1682524227382000&usg=AOvVaw1jPPuT0S0YVPJg0I1oXofv">HERE!</a></strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Looking for a sample class before registering?</strong> Join us Saturday, June 3rd for an in-person sample class, Q&A, and the best discount of the summer!  Registration required to attend! </p> <p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><strong>For more info. or to register for our Summer Open house, click <a href="https://tadatheater.com/open-house/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://tadatheater.com/open-house/&source=gmail&ust=1682524227382000&usg=AOvVaw2CheiFLQooj66wqzmTeKCc">HERE!</a></strong></p> <p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><strong>No child should be turned away because of their inability to pay. </strong></p> <p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><strong><a href="https://tadatheater.com/financial-assistance/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://tadatheater.com/financial-assistance/&source=gmail&ust=1682524227382000&usg=AOvVaw1-oTxJlL31iv2yEG3kUDrj">Financial Assistance available. </a></strong></p> <p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><strong>Questions?</strong></p> <div style="text-align: center;"><strong>Email us at <a href="mailto:[email protected]" target="_blank" rel="noopener">[email protected]</a></strong></div> </div> <div> <div dir="ltr" data-smartmail="gmail_signature"> <div dir="ltr"> <div dir="ltr"> <div dir="ltr"> <div dir="ltr"> <div dir="ltr"> <div dir="ltr"> <div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div>

CBE Kids Summer Day Camps

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-position: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Congregation Beth Elohim is so excited to announce the return of CBE Kids Day Camps starting THIS summer!</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-position: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Two programs will be offered in summer 2022: Elementary Day Camp and Camp Kef Hebrew Language Camp, both for rising Kindergarten to 4th graders. A typical day will include community building through play, and activities such as sports, art, computer coding, dance, instructional and free swim in our indoor pool, and much more. Camp Kef Hebrew Language Camp offers all of the same great activities in a Hebrew immersion setting appropriate for dual language learners, native speakers, and kids looking to grow their Hebrew skills.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-position: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Both camps utilize their beautiful Temple House in the heart of Park Slope, as well as Prospect Park — CBE’s backyard — for outdoor programming. CBE Kids aims to be a place where campers can try new things, make new friends, and grow through play.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-position: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">CBE can't wait to welcome everyone back to camp this summer. Whether you are a returning camper who cannot wait to get back after two summers away, or a new camper who is ready for a magical summer, there is something for everyone at CBE Kids Summer Camps!</span></p> <p> </p>

Aviator Sports Summer Day Camp

<p>Aviator Sports Summer Day Camp offers five daily rotating activities such as swimming, ice skating gymnastics, rock climbing, parkour, indoor/outdoor turf, and courts plus more in its ample 175,000 sq. ft. facility and 35-acre outdoor area. Aviator Summer Camp also offers off-site and on-site field trips such as a day at Green Meadows Farm, Launch Trampoline Park, and a Brooklyn Cyclones game. The summer camp runs from 9 am-5 pm with early drop off and late stay available. Bus transportation is also available throughout Brooklyn. Lunch and an afternoon snack are included. Sign up by February 28th to receive up to $300 off camp with early bird discounts.</p>