By Rhonda Carrier
Volunteering with your kids, whether overseas or at home, can be an exciting way to take a break together as a family as well as an immensely rewarding and worthwhile – and perhaps even life-changing – one. As a parent, it’s a great way of introducing your children to a world they may not be aware of and teaching them the value of helping and of communities working to a common end. Until recently, the time commitment required made volunteering overseas very difficult to organise for most families with school-age children, but a growing number of organisations now offer short-break (usually 2-4-week) volunteering programs for families in school holidays. The following are just some of the many extraordinary volunteering trips on offer. For longer-term projects overseas, try Operation Raleigh and VSO.
The well-known conservation organisation, which owns and runs many family-friendly heritage properties around the country, includes among its working holidays a number of family volunteering holidays designed for those with kids aged 6-16, in destinations including Northumberland, Yorkshire and Pembrokeshire. Activities may include carrying out plant surveys, planting trees and fixing stone walls, with fun activities including survival skills, rockpooling and scavenger hunts added into the mix. Alternatively, ages 16–18 can sign up for Youth Discovery conservation work with other teens. Or there are working holidays overseas, run in partnership with the International National Trusts Organisation.
For more volunteering in the UK, see Volunteering Matters or Do-it.
With the widest choice of family volunteering holidays abroad, this well-known sustainable chapter offers placements in Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Thailand, South Africa, Borneo, Namibia, Finland and Romania. Try working with sea turtles in Sri Lanka or at an elephant refuge in Thailand.
With 10 years’ experience of running volunteer programs around the globe, this firm has hand-picked projects suited to families with children aged 14 and up, including volunteering at a care centre in Nepal, working on conservation in Greece, and helping construction projects in South Africa.
Enkosini Eco Experience
This company specialising in placing volunteers in wildlife conservation, rehabilitation and research programs in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, for periods ranging from one to 12 weeks. Tasks include anti-poaching work, animal rehabilitation, hands-on animal care, game tracking and capture, and everyday reserve maintenance.
Read also about our experience of volunteering in the Caribbean with the Sandals Foundation.