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Summer Volunteering With Kids

POPSUGAR / paid for by / Target

Summer is the time to refresh and explore, especially through new experiences with your family. That's why we partnered with Target for this post.

Every kid looks forward to Summer — long, hot days; later bedtimes; and lots of fun. It's also a time for exploring different kinds of experiences, from camps to classes. I like to find a couple of exciting things for my daughter to check out and also for us to do together.

Volunteering is probably the last thing you might be thinking about doing during the Summer months, but there are so many interesting places that you can experience and enjoy. Take 826 National. With seven chapters in locations like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston, the inventive programs offer creative experiences to under-resourced students ages 6 to 18 that help improve their writing skills. The centers and storefronts are always looking for volunteers.

I connected with Molly Parent, the programs and communications manager at 826 Valencia in San Francisco, and spent an afternoon at a local school during Exploring Words Summer Camp. The day I visited, kids were putting together nature bots alongside an educator from the Exploratorium. I counted around 19 kids per room with an impressive one-to-one volunteer, or peer helper, ratio. Students were moving around work stations utterly focused on figuring out unique ways to transform a basic motor, copper wire, and natural elements like sticks into moving creations. It was hard not to step in and get busy!

826 Valencia is a year-long program that's seeking volunteers of all ages and backgrounds to help keep the program running smoothly. Parents shared that volunteers work shifts, either leading activities in the mornings and then prepping for the next day in the afternoons or vice versa. After a three-hour orientation session, you're all set to get in the classroom and work alongside the program. Each activity also correlates with a writing experience, reinforcing the active learning process.

Although my time with 826 was short, it left such an impact. Every single child was engaged, excited, and exploring. All the volunteers and staff were focused on aiding instead of leading. I walked away ready to sign up for several volunteering sessions and knew my daughter would love checking it out, too.

It doesn't matter what type of background or educational level you have — volunteering is a great way to get involved in your community and give back. And when you do it with your child, it promotes so many positive qualities, from selflessness to confidence. I plan on dedicating at least one week of our Summer to volunteering and highly recommend it.

Target is funding $5 million of kid-proposed projects in schools. Submit your kid's idea now!

Image Source: Flickr user Hipnos
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