Service Trips for the Whole Family
Family service trips have become increasingly popular over the past decade. In addition to those coordinated by an organized religious group, various nonprofit NGO groups have also begun to accept parents with children depending upon the organization’s needs, the length of time the family can provide volunteer services and the parental skills or qualifications desired by the NGO. Before packing up the kids and taking the dog to the kennel, investigate fully the organization to which you’re planning on entrusting your safety and the safety of your family. Some service trips are service trips and any time spent away from work in recreational activities is the responsibility of the parents to organize and provide. Find a trip that will suit the needs of your family, taking into account their ages and the degree of work expected of participants.
Benefits of Volunteering As a Family
The benefits of family volunteering are extremely positive when taken as a whole. Depending upon the ages of a family’s children, it can provide opportunities for bonding and communication uninterrupted by the usual distractions of western life. The shock or surprise of different cultural norms and expectations can be mitigated somewhat by preparing children for the unexpected in conversations or explanations tailored to their ages. An additional benefit is that parents are available to discuss the different culture and how our ideas of etiquette or other issues are so culturally defined. Finally, nothing can replace the collective memory that a service vacation can provide to a family and all its members.
Cultural Incentives to Family Travel
Children have as much to learn about new cultures as their mothers and fathers. Parents, observing their children being gently corrected in a new culture have been themselves afforded a face-saving means of learning a courtesy themselves. Finally, families with children are seen as less threatening that two adults and the social group may help facilitate faster friendships and social acceptance.
Future Opportunities for Child Alumnae of Service Journeys
Children who are alumnae of such vacation service journeys return home with a newfound appreciation of the standard of living we often take for granted. More importantly, they are more accepting of other cultural beliefs and customs. As they grow into teens, their ability to compare two cultures may provide them with a greater understanding of a political issue or a near perfect fluency in a foreign language. As is often the case in summer camps, perhaps they’ll return in their teens to help supervise the children of other families during their own service journeys.