Do you or your children volunteer?

Children volunteeringImage via Wikipedia

Children volunteering! Do your children volunteer? How did you get them started, how much is enough and what are they doing or do you think volunteering is for adults? How's that for a few questions right up front!

Yesterday, Beach Walker Boy and I were talking about things a kid can do to volunteer in the community. If you read this blog, then you know that 'Boy' has a volunteer gig this summer at the library as a Book Buddy. Not that I think he should pick up another volunteer activity this summer. One is enough for a tween. I do want him to enjoy his summer, let him be 'free range' but there I was with my inquiring mind trying to see what he thinks and make sure his brain didn't really slip out his ear when he turned twelve. If you have a tween boy, you know what I'm talking about. Much to my amazement, he did have some ideas. He thought joining a clean up campaign was was a good thing for the community. Serving food at the homeless shelter was another thought. Since I was a 'candy striper' (do they use that term anymore) when I was twelve, I suggested visiting the elderly. Of course, my suggestion had some personal cause attached to it. "Don't forget me when I'm old, 'Boy'." He liked that idea. Yay!! He also thought volunteering at an animal shelter was a good idea. Somehow, I don't think he realized how hard emotionally it would be to work at an animal shelter. That will be a conversation for another day.
Well, I felt good ... maybe he was a thinking 'Boy' after all. Ahhh! Slept well last night!
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'Free Range Children' ?

Just Sit Back and Relax!Image by VinothChandar via Flickr

I came across this great article on Planet Green about letting your kids set their own agenda. How unique in today's activity obsessed world. I even love the title - We Need More 'Free Range Children' - Planet Green. I like to think of Beach Walker Boy as 'free range'. I also like to package him as 'home grown', 'cage free', 'carbon neutral' and of course 'organic' and most of that is true ... well, not the carbon neutral part ... but tween boys have their ways and he's still learning.
Yes, Free Range Children! I'm all for it.
Did you know there is a 'Slow Movement' getting started? I guess it's sort of like the 'SlowFoods' movement which I highly recommend. It's mentioned in the Planet Green article by Matt McDermott. I like this concept. Fits well with what my mind tells me is right. I think 'Boy' would support the idea, after all he has championed some incredibly slow events such as cleaning his room. I think I'm going to join the slow movement today. Perhaps, I'll run for President of my local chapter ... slowly, of course.
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Teaching children to care for the environment

With all the environmental disasters and lack of concern by so many, one has to wonder how we can change our habits to be more mindful of our environment. Perhaps we just need to take the time to 'teach the children well.' Remember that line from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young or maybe I'm dating myself? It's important though to start at a young age to instill in children a sense of caring and pride for their environment and the earth. Of course, we need to model the behaviors ourselves by doing our part, whether it be recycling, growing our own veg, planting trees, eliminating excess packaging or volunteering for a clean up. Children are exposed to so much and often they get mixed messages or just don't understand why we need to act. Usborne book, Why Should I Bother about the Planet? teaches about mankind's effects on the planet and how we can reverse them. Topics include climate change, recycling, energy sources and the little things we can do to make a difference. We have
to hope for the future and our children are the future.
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Beach Walker Boy learns a lesson!

This summer Beach Walker Boy has been volunteering at the local library. He is a newly minted "Book Buddy" and spends one hour a week reading to younger children.
The first week he read, he was matched with a very quiet, well behaved 5 year old and he read three books chosen by the child. The second week, he hoped to read to the same child but it wasn't to be and he was matched with another child who was most likely around 6 years old. This child was not quiet or well behaved. At one point, I looked up from my comfy chair where I was enjoying my own book, to see Beach Walker Boy in a slow trot after a child running up and down the aisles laughing. I just shook my head and hoped his own sense of what is right would surface. Apparently, he was able to corral the child without incident and settle down to read. Good experience for him, he went with the flow and I was happy to see he handled himself with authority. The community service points he'll earn will be earned in the trenches and that's a lesson he won't learn from playing PS3's Call of Duty. Did my heart good to see!