As the school year winds down, what are your intentions for the summer?
We often hear the feedback that parents wish they were able to be more intentional with their kids. What if we told you there is one easy thing you can do with your kids over the summer that will leave a lasting impression?
How you spend your summer is important. One thing that will have a lasting impact on your kids is serving alongside them. Intentionally serving together is something you can do every month or even just a handful of times per year. It will help your kids take the spotlight off of themselves and onto others for a change. You can still put your kids in summer camps, take that family vacation, visit the neighborhood pool, and all of your normal summer activities, but I’d also challenge you to throw one service project into the mix this summer. You might be surprised when your kids tell you that serving the homeless as a family or teaching English to refugees was one of their best memories from the summer.
A recent article on Parents.com noted “Volunteering teaches even toddlers and preschoolers about compassion, empathy, tolerance, gratitude, and community responsibility. And children who volunteer are more likely to continue doing so as adults.” It’s clearly never too early to start planting the seeds of serving in your children.
Many times kids don’t realize how good they have it. When you serve at a soup kitchen or help a refugee family, your kid’s “bubble” will pop! People who do regular volunteer work have a rich well of gratitude for what they have and experience fulfillment and joy in helping those less fortunate. For example, if your family serves at your local community nursing home or in a Children’s hospital, you will likely walk away with a newfound appreciation for your health and the health of your family members.
I heard a story recently about a family that took a trip to visit the little girl in Uganda they had supported through Compassion International for several years. When they visited her house and the kids asked where she slept at night, the little girl pointed to the dirt floor where she was standing. This reality hit hard. Seeing first-hand that this child didn’t have her own bedroom, much less a bathroom, really put things into perspective and the family has never been the same as a result. Even after returning home from the trip, conversations surrounding the living their conditions were continually discussed.
Gratitude is a powerful thing. You might not be able to take an International summer volunteering trip, but I assure you that there are plenty of needs in your local community that need to be met.
Memories as a Family
Some memories don’t cost money but contribute a lot of value. Volunteering as a family is not only going to be budget-friendly but it is also going to bring you closer together as a team.
An elementary educator once explained that many times youth summer camps cause cliques and divisions, but if you can rally the same group of kids to serve and build a home together with a nonprofit like Habitat for Humanity, all of a sudden they leave the week closer than ever before. Why is that? Why is there division in one scenario and unity in the other? I assume it is because the group of kids worked hard and rallied around a common cause and as a result had a shared experience they were all proud of. If this can happen with a handful of youths, imagine having that same impact on your family unit. Who wouldn’t want that level of camaraderie within their family?
There are countless ways families can serve the local community. Log into your dashboard to create more summer volunteer opportunities and help get people involved.