Giving Back: Summer Volunteer Opportunities for Teens

For teenagers, summer can be a time to relax, soak up some sun and hang out with friends. A recent trend among teens during the summer months is to take that free time to give back to their community. Teen volunteer work can help build character, help young people gain life experience, and for some states, even earn points toward college scholarships.

If you are the parent of a teen or a teenager yourself, here are some great ways you can give back to your community through volunteer service.

Summer Camps

Summer camps come in all shapes and sizes. From fine arts to academics, fitness to camps specializing in services for children with special needs. For organizers and staff, wrangling hundreds of kids can be a huge undertaking. Many organizations call for volunteers for a variety of roles. Teenagers can sign up to be camp counselors, work in the kitchen, organize activities or provide entertainment.

Best of all, you can pick a camp that fits your area of interest. If art is your passion, you can volunteer at an art camp and help teach kids how to draw, paint or sculpt. Play an instrument, act, dance or sing? Sign up as a volunteer at a performing arts camp.

Being a teen volunteer at a summer camp can be an exceptionally rewarding, memorable experience.

Homeless Shelters

Every large city and most mid-sized towns have several shelters designed to care for those in need.  Charitable organizations frequently operate with limited staff and a tight budget, making volunteer work extremely important these shelters.

Being a teen volunteer at a shelter for battered women, homeless individuals or runaway/throwaway youth allows a teen to make a real difference in the lives of people who desperately need it. Teens can help serve food, organize fundraisers, collect donations and assist with office work.

Volunteering at a shelter can help you gain a whole new perspective on life – a perspective builds on compassion and love for those facing the worst of life’s hardships.

Animal Shelters

If your best friends all have four legs, an animal shelter may be the perfect fit for your teen volunteer efforts this summer. Animal shelters rescue thousands of animals every year, all of which need to be fed, cleaned and cared for.

A teen volunteer can help clean kennels and cages, walk dogs, and comfort scared or sick animals. Most animal shelters welcome volunteers year around, as they often rely on donations and fundraisers to staff their facilities.

Volunteering at an animal shelter can be difficult, but the feeling that you were able to help these lost, helpless animals makes it worth it at the end of the day.

Housing & Community Development

If you are 16 years of age or older and have an interest in building, carpentry or architecture, consider being a teen volunteer for a housing or community development organization. These organizations build and renovate homes for the needy, and help revitalize struggling communities. You do not need any construction experience in most cases – they will teach you everything you need to know.

Working with your hands for the betterment of the community can be a very satisfying endeavor. If you volunteer for a housing organization, you are helping provide those who may be in a hopeless situation with one of the most basic human needs – a home to call their own. Joining a community development project allows you to see how much you can benefit a neighborhood just buy helping hang swings in a park, paint a fence or plant flowers.

Your efforts in a housing or community betterment project can go a long way in making the world a better place.

Final Thought

As summer heats up and school winds down, giving back by becoming a teen volunteer gives you the chance to put a smile on someone’s face, a meal in their hands, a little bit of comfort or a roof over their heads. You can make a difference!


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