When teens volunteer, everyone wins. You connect by doing something meaningful together, and your young philanthropist can experience the mutual reward of giving back. The biggest benefit to youth volunteering, though, is the unique blend of character traits that kids bring to a charitable team. Preteens still have the curiosity of a child—even if they don’t want to admit it—but the sharp perception of a young adult. No other age group can bring this mix to a benevolent cause.
How can you get started? Volunteer work for 13-year-olds needs to be able to keep their fickle attention. Here are three ideas to get your started:
Join the Club (for an Outing)
The environment’s best advocates have always been young. Too old to be a camper but too young to be a guide, your 11-, 12-, or 13-year-old may expect to feel out of place at a nature preserve or science center, but nothing could be further from the truth. Aspiring guides must first be trained, and the best training is hands-on volunteer work.
A preteen is the ideal volunteer at a science center or nature camp, but it’s hard to find them on your own. Instead, contact the Sierra Club to join one of its campaigns on an outing near you. Your seasonal conservationist can work an event or hike at a Sierra Club chapter local to them, and revisit throughout the year if they really take to it.
Nature is the perfect place to give back with your preteen. Here’s why:
- Our parks need help! Science centers don’t have a lot of money to spare, so they rely on our time and support.
- While you train and work, you’re close to your child . . . but not too close. Preteens want you nearby, but not hovering. When you volunteer as, say, the activities coordinator for a nature camp, your child can lead others nearby without feeling supervised.
- It looks to the future. Getting involved in conservation tourism is one of the best ways for young adults to educate the community and, in some cases, earn some money in the process.
Blog It Out
Would your child rather work with words? Does he or she tell a good story? If your teen can voice an opinion (and you’ve surely experienced it firsthand), he or she can advocate for a good cause by contributing to a company blog. Volunteer Match has virtual volunteer work for kids 13 and up, so you and your wordy philanthropist can grab some hot tea, snuggle up together, and write something behind the scenes. Nonprofits looking for bloggers include the Rainforest Fund, Cheerful Givers, Empower 2 Play, and Organization for Autism Research.
Working remotely is perfect if you and your teen are just starting to volunteer together. When you post a contribution online, you don’t need to add another commitment to your weekly schedule. Kids can submit their piece between activities or relay a school paper that has charitable value too—making it a winner for any parent and teen.
Work a Benefit Concert
Combine kids’ love of pop culture with a focus on those less fortunate. The Festival of Hope is an annual three-day international event with benefit concerts that feature over 500 bands and artists. The festival directly benefits charities around the world that focus on youth and children, making it especially popular among preteens who make up today’s artists’ biggest fans.
It takes hundreds of volunteers to put on such an affair, as you might imagine, and there are tons of ways for young enthusiasts to contribute. For starters, you can both help create buzz in your area for the festival. Follow the organizers on social media and repost, retweet, and respond to the show’s updates online. You might even support the cause by contacting a local business to collect its overstock to donate. Ultimately, your child can help by signing up for the two-month Festival of Hope Walkathon with your local segment.
When volunteer work for 13-year-olds brings you together, parents and tweens experience positive vibes that make it the perfect outlet for helping hands. If your child’s heart is closer to home, see if you guys can volunteer for an arts program, perform a special talent at a nursing home, or do arts and crafts at a local children’s hospital.
These are a few creative ways you and your budding do-gooder can connect while giving back. What would you recommend for other parents looking to do the same thing? Have you served with a tweenager? What was the best part? Tweet it to @TomsofMaine!
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.