Great Volunteer Opportunities for Teens in 2023
A volunteering program or project can be a wonderful experience for your child, offering a new adventure and a chance to make friends and learn new skills. But if you’re wondering where to start, we can help—below, you’ll find everything you need to know about volunteer opportunities for teens, and examples of projects they could get involved in, including where to find them.
- What is Volunteering?
- Why Should Teens Take Up Volunteering Opportunities?
- 10 Volunteering Opportunities for Teens
- Volunteering by Age Suitability
What is Volunteering?
Before we dive into the good stuff, let’s just take a moment to clarify what exactly volunteering is. The definition of volunteering is the spending of unpaid time undertaking an activity to benefit others.
Volunteering may be something done informally within the community or can be done via a formal agreement and via one of a number of volunteer organizations. Volunteers may be asked to get involved with a wide range of activities, including, for example, supporting or running events, fundraising, conserving the environment, providing support to individuals, or providing advice and information.
Why Should Teens Take Up Volunteering Opportunities?
There are lots of different reasons for considering volunteer programs for teens. It can be a chance for your child to go abroad and experience life within a different country and culture, and it’s often a great way to pick up new skills and even potentially discover a future career direction.
Volunteering is a means to meet new people, help communities, and make a real difference. If your teen is passionate about the environment, volunteering could be a way to get involved with a cause that’s close to their heart.
On top of this, volunteering builds empathy and fosters a more selfless attitude—it’s also a really effective way of helping your teen connect with people from different backgrounds, countries, and cultures and, closer to home, is a way for your teen to better understand their own community, how it works, and the challenges it may be facing.
Building self-esteem and confidence and helping to develop mindfulness and an attitude of gratitude are other key benefits of taking up teen volunteer opportunities. Every individual is likely to have a different reason for wanting to volunteer, and your teen is no different! Seek placements or opportunities that play to their passions and interests, as well as that fit around their commitments.
10 Volunteering Opportunities for Teens
Helping Out at a Food Bank
In the current economic climate, there’s a greater need for food banks than ever before. And while foodbanks always welcome donations of food, many are also in need of volunteers to manage stock and inventory, for example, dispense items or even help to prepare and serve meals.
Volunteering at a local food bank could be a perfect fit for your teen. As well as making a real beneficial difference to the service users and the wider community, it’ll also help with developing transferable skills, likely to serve them really well when applying for their first paid role. These include organizational and problem-solving skills and providing front-facing customer service.
Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
For teens who love animals and are keen to volunteer, seeking a placement at the nearest animal shelter could be a perfect fit! If your kid would like to pursue a career in animal care, then it’s also a great way to help out and get vital early experience.
Depending on the particular shelter, teens may be able to get involved directly with animal care, such as feeding and grooming, help out with the admin jobs at the center, or take part in a range of fundraising events and activities on behalf of the organization. Cleaning out shelters and generally ensuring that the animals being looked after feel loved and safe are also tasks likely to fall under a volunteer’s remit, making these sorts of placements particularly popular.
Maintaining Green Spaces
The environmentally-friendly and community-minded teen may like to consider contacting their local city or park authority to find out whether they’d welcome a volunteer—or already have a volunteer program in place—to help maintain nearby parks and other green spaces, helping to keep them clean and tidy throughout the year.
If you live near a larger outdoor space or national park, there may be lots of opportunities for your teen to get involved on a voluntary basis. Older teens may want to consider volunteering at one of the national parks worldwide via organizations such as Conservation Volunteers Australia or the Irish Wildlife Trust.
Spending time outdoors is great for boosting mood and raising those all-important Vitamin D levels, too, so everyone’s a winner!
If you have a book-loving teen, then looking into the possibility of volunteering at the local library is a great idea! One of the best parts about this type of volunteering is that your kid will likely get to undertake a range of different tasks, from helping visitors get to grips with the computers to organizing books to giving younger library users some help with the research needed for their homework.
Your library may have a range of timeslots available when they could use a hand, so fitting voluntary duties around your teen’s other commitments could well be doable.
Sign Up for a Volunteering Placement Abroad
Either through their school or via a dedicated volunteering platform, your teen may be interested in taking on the ultimate adventure by volunteering to participate in a project abroad. There are many such opportunities in countries all over the world, so whether your teen is keen to take on some conservation work for a fortnight in Tanzania or teach English for a month in Thailand, there’s something to suit.
There is currently a wide selection of volunteering placements for teens in locations such as Costa Rica, where your teenager could get involved in childcare, construction, or renovation projects while staying with a welcoming, supportive host family. They’ll be able to take advantage of the Spanish school, learn salsa, and explore the surrounding rainforests and unique grey and black sand beaches.
Or how about signing up for a volunteering placement in Portugal, where your teen will have the opportunity to take part in an Environmental Scuba Diving program or a Youth Support initiative? During your child’s stay in Lisbon, they’ll be able to travel to other parts of the country on their free weekends to explore the region and immerse themselves in its culture.
To find these international volunteering places for teens, check out a reputable platform or organization that’s experienced in arranging volunteering placements for teens.
Taking Care of Individuals Closer to Home
There are also plenty of opportunities for teens to carry out voluntary work closer to home by helping the elderly or infirm in the local community. A local church, another place of worship, or a community organization could make the connection between your teen and someone who could do with a little help.
Services may include visiting with an elderly person, shoveling snow from their drive, or bringing them food supplies. Loneliness can be a terrible thing and is something that is experienced by many old people who live alone—volunteering to provide support and assistance can make a tangible difference in the lives of these individuals.
Volunteer at a Kids’ Summer Camp
A really popular volunteering activity for those in high school is helping out at a kids’ summer camp. As well as providing lots of opportunities to spend time in the great outdoors, your teen will have the chance to support the kids attending with the various activities on offer and could also be given the role of ‘Camp Counselor.’
This type of voluntary placement could also offer your teen training in emergency first aid and outdoor support skills and bolster communication and organizational skills. Plus, they’ll likely get the benefit of constructive feedback from parents, kids, and camp leaders.
Coaching Youth Sports
And if your teen is keen to continue their volunteering activities after summer camp is finished? Then how about suggesting they offer their services as a youth sports coach? Young kids will look up to their teenage coach, who could be a fantastic role model for them. Get in touch with local schools and youth and community organizations to find out whether they’d be interested in the offer of some free youth sports coaching.
Your teen should pick a sport they particularly enjoy—their passion will inspire their young charges and could ignite a lifetime’s love of physical activity.
Making the Most of Skills
If your teen has a particularly full academic schedule but is still keen to volunteer their time, then there are opportunities for this, too. They may wish to contact a charity or local community organisation to offer their time creating blog posts, designing a website, or setting up and managing a social media platform—all of these are fantastic ways to help out and are likely to suit creative teens who have an eye on a career in journalism or the creative or marketing industries.
And if your teen is having trouble deciding how to volunteer, or if there are limited opportunities in your local area, then getting involved in fundraising activities for a cause close to their heart is a great idea.
Fundraising could involve outreach work, coming up with an idea for an activity, or even arranging an event. It’s a great way for your teen to develop some essential life skills, such as budgeting and time management—and who knows where it could lead?
Volunteering by Age Suitability
The suitable ages for volunteering activities vary, and this will also depend on the individual child and their personality. While many formal opportunities ask for volunteers to be sixteen years or older, community organizations may be willing to offer younger teens some appropriate voluntary work.
What is the Youngest Age You Can Volunteer at?
While sixteen is usually considered to be the youngest age that children can officially sign-up for volunteering activities, there are many opportunities for younger teens to volunteer in their community, although this may require parents to give their written consent, and parents should carefully consider safeguarding.
Where are Volunteers Most Needed?
There are many sectors that would greatly appreciate the assistance of additional volunteers. These include voluntary projects in developing countries, as well as organizations working to support the elderly or isolated within the local community.
Where Can 14-Year-Olds Volunteer?
A 14-year-old could potentially volunteer at an elderly people’s home, an animal shelter, or a food bank, for example, or to work on fundraising projects within their community.
Does Volunteering Improve Grades?
While it’s not clear whether volunteering directly impacts the grades of students, there’s no doubt that time spent volunteering can give your teen vital work experience, a chance to learn new skills, find new friends, build confidence, and can even be the beginning of a lifelong career.
How do I Find a Volunteer Opportunity?
Depending on the sort of volunteering work your teen is interested in undertaking, you could start by getting in touch with local community groups and organizations. For more formal volunteering opportunities, there are many online platforms designed to match volunteers with relevant projects, including those that will be taking place abroad.
Teen Volunteering: The Takeaway
As a parent, allowing your teen to volunteer—especially for a project happening abroad—could be a nerve-wracking proposition. It’s vital to find out everything you can about the opportunity and ensure it’s offered through a trusted, reputable organization—check their safeguarding processes carefully with this in mind.
Volunteering can be an incredibly enriching experience for your teen and form an intrinsic, memorable part of their journey from childhood to young adulthood. As well as a chance to make new friends or gain skills relevant to the career they want to pursue, volunteering is also a way to expand their horizons and start gaining some independence.
So, whether your teen wants to spend one day a week helping out at your local animal rescue center or is keen to work on a conversation project overseas this summer, the experience could be a life-changing one.
Have your teens volunteered in the past? Drop us a line in the box below, we’d love to hear what they did and how they got on!
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