Global Citizens Network
Global Citizens Network (GCN) sends short-term teams of volunteers to communities in other cultures where participants immerse themselves in the culture and daily life of the community. Each volunteer team is partnered with a local grassroots organization active in meeting local needs.
Doing Good Together has collaborated with GCN to develop materials that enrich the family travel experience by aiding you in determining which trip location is a proper fit; preparing you and your children for your trip; and providing tools to deepen your family’s learning experience, prior, during and after your adventure.
Research suggests that when youth spend time reflecting on their service experiences, they can acquire a deeper understanding of the world around them and how they can make positive contributions. Although some volunteer travel organizations include families with children on their trips, only GCN focuses special attention on that effort, trains its staff to work with families, and offers child-friendly resources to enhance the experience.
Other organizations that offer volunteer vacations to families:
Global Volunteers (www.globalvolunteers.org)
Center for Development in Central America (www.jhc-cdca.org)
Explorations in Travel (www.exploretravel.com)
Caribbean Volunteer Expeditions (www.cvexp.org)
Cross Cultural Solutions (www.crossculturalsolutions.org)
Seeds of Learning (www.seedsoflearning.org)
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. (www.clearwater.org)
Santa Catalina Island Conservancy (www.catalinaconservancy.org)
Amizade, LTD (www.amizade.org)
Earthwatch Institute (www.earthwatch.org)
Transformational Journeys (www.tjourneys.com)
Take time to choose the volunteer project that’s right for your family. After exploring the above websites, request information. Then speak with the program coordinator about your family – the ages of your children, any special skills or interests, and what you want to gain from the experience. Ask about the projects you might be working on, the amount of time the program expects you to commit, the minimum age for volunteers and whether the program typically includes families as volunteers. Also, learn about accommodations, leisure time, costs, medical facilities and whether orientation is offered.
NOTE: DGT does not vouch for any organizations mentioned. We simply provide the information for you to check out.
To find other ideas, we suggest:
(The opportunities mentioned in these books are not specifically for families, so you’ll have to consider which are appropriate for you and your children.)
- Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others by Bill McMillon, Doug Cutchins, Anne Geissinger, and Ed Asner (Chicago Review Press, 1999)
- The 100 Best Volunteer Vacations to Enrich Your Life by Pam Grout (National Geographic, 2009)
- How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas by Joseph Collins, Stefano DeZerega and Zahara Heckscher (Penguin Books, 2002)
- Volunteer: A Traveler’s Guide to Making a Difference Around the World by Charlotte Hindle, Nate Cavalieri, Rachel Collinson, Korina Miller, Mike Richard (Lonely Planet, 2007)
- Mapping Your Volunteer Vacation by Jane Stanfield and Rhonda Taylor (Where is She Heading, 2009)