Julie Wolfson: Families bond on volunteer vacations. The image of sharing meaningful family time sounds wonderful on the days when our child says something bratty and we wonder, "Oh no, am I spoiling my child?!"
In these tough economic times, the trend toward finding new and different ways to "give back" to people in need couldn't be more important. Spending vacation time doing community service has become increasingly popular. We like this trend (more than miniskirts).
One momlogic reader, Doug, suggested we read the Chicago Review Press book "Volunteer Vacations." This book contains resources for the increasing number of people looking for ways to make a difference while on vacation. The updated edition is filled with in-depth information, including contacts, locations, costs, dates, project details, and profiles of 150 select organizations running thousands of programs in the United States and around the world. Another reader, Diane, told us, "Camp Sunshine makes for a great family volunteer vacation for parents with teens. It's a national nonprofit that provides a vacation-like environment at no charge for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families."
Momlogic recently attended an event that raised money for Kids Play Int'l. In 2008, Olympic skier Tracy Evans and Karen Osborn took a humanitarian service trip with Ambassadors for Children to Malawi, Africa. They ended up taking sports equipment to the children and teaching them new sports. It was such a hit with the kids that they decided to form Kids Play Int'l, to create trips for sports-minded travelers who want to give back by teaching and educating kids through sports.
We asked Tracy Evans about the program. She told us, "Kids Play Int'l (KPI) provides sports-focused, short-term volunteer service trips, promoting interactive and educational sports programs for kids in orphanages and schools throughout Malawi, Rwanda, and Kenya in Africa. KPI looks for active, sports-minded volunteers of all ages who are looking to travel with a purpose. Activities include educating kids about the importance of teamwork, respect between genders, sportsmanship, fair play, and healthy living. We introduce new sports and rules on how to play and keep score for baseball, softball, T-ball, volleyball, track and field, flag football, and soccer clinics." After all the time we have spent driving our kids to games and practice, it sounds amazing to share that love of sports with kids around the world.
When you plan your next family trip, find some time to take on a volunteer project. Or take a big adventure with your kids to a place where some hard work and dedication will be appreciated. The rewards will live on in your household for years to come. Your kids will have more to tell their teachers when they go back to school than which movies they saw and how many new toys they bought.