I crafted some unique volunteering opportunities for my teenagers this summer. I figured since they were not so straightforward for me to find, I would pass along to fellow parents of teens. Sharing is caring when parenting teens, especially during the summer months before they can work and drive independently.
First opportunity – The oldest teen has always loved trains. He started with the basics like Thomas the Train, but then graduated to vintage HO scale and other more collectible trains. His love of trains and all things engineering is still strong, so his high school advisor suggested we find a way to foster this interest and develop it into a leadership activity. I did some research and found a local railway museum in Apex. I reached out to ask if they took Junior Volunteers. And guess what… they do, and one was graduating last spring, so there was an opening. Aidan went a few weeks ago to “learn the ropes.” Yesterday was his first official volunteer day, and he has a BLAST. It was a big event at the railway, food trucks, local breweries present. He was put in charge of the caboose and was given a safety vest and walkie talkie. He shared lots of train facts with visitors and said some people took his picture. I am less able to share the more technical aspects of what he observed and learned, but trust that he learned a lot and will continue to learn more. The best part? He can volunteer here all through high school. And, he wants to go every single Saturday after this weekend.
My take away: look at what your teen is interested in and find a way to foster that interest. It may take some work, but the outcome will totally be worth it.
Second opportunity – TABLE a non-profit committed to feeding local children that are at risk for hunger. My teens volunteered for a week. Here is more about Camp TABLE –
Camp TABLE is a summer program at TABLE designed to raise awareness about local issues, including childhood hunger, and encourage middle and high school students to get involved in their community. This program is one week long and includes volunteer activities (such as sorting food or adding fresh food to backpacks), nutrition-related activities and games, and learning about hunger in our area, among other things. Camp is for students ages 12-16, and leadership positions are available for those 15-17 years old.
What an amazing opportunity for my teens who never struggle with food insecurity. Giving back is such an important skill to learn, especially in this egocentric world of teenagers.
So, what do your teens do to volunteer and give back to their communities? I would love more ideas!