As the Summer months approach, many parents are beginning to line up schedules full of activities, kid camps and play dates in order to fill the time for children on summer break. As parents seek out anything to entertain their children and make sure their brains don’t turn to mush during the vacation from school, it oftentimes leads to a packed schedule more so than when school is in session. If you are some of the lucky few, you are able to include a summer vacation somewhere in between the calendar of constant activities. Vacation offers families a break from the craziness of summer break, a time to spend with each other, and a time for adventure. This year, instead of jetting off to your typical beach destination or tourist attraction, consider opting for an alternative vacation focused on serving others and new experiences that will encourage much needed direct family time.
Here are the reasons why you should opt for a service trip as your family’s summer vacation this year:
Disconnect From Chaos And Connect With What’s Important
Participating in a service trip provides the opportunity to disconnect from digital devices, packed schedules, and negative influences, and to focus our energy and time on important values that we may have forgotten. Typically, those that need help are living in poverty or even way below the line. When seeing how others live with far less than we have, and doing so with smiles and laughter, it changes one’s perspective. It will provide you a new perspective on what matters in life, a sense of joy for life and its newfound simplicity, gratitude for each other and all your blessings. The opportunity to reconnect you and your family back to what matters most in life is one that can be found on a service trip.
Unique Opportunities For Family Bonding
When you go on a service trip, most likely you will be living in an entirely new environment, with a different context of living than you are used to (IE. A small village in Africa may not have running water for showers or drinking). Such circumstances will force you and your family to step outside of your comfort zone and adapt to new situations together. Through overcoming obstacles, experiencing new activities, and stepping outside from what you know, it will create memorable experiences only you will understand. Service trips unplug you from cell phones, tablets and TV’s, and encourage time spent interacting with each other. The experiences and memories made will always be remembered and cherished by both parents and children.
Explore New Cultures
Most vacations involve visiting several tourist attractions, which provide very minimal insights into the local culture and way of life. The locations chosen for service trips are far from tourist hot spots and are places you most likely would not otherwise visit. Typically, the villages and small towns are in the middle of nowhere, with no economic means. Therefore, many of these towns need the assistance of volunteers and donated services to help improve daily life. Because of this, villagers rely heavily on tradition and it allows volunteers the opportunity to learn the heart and soul of the country’s culture. From elementary age children to adults, everyone will have their own intercultural experience when living like the locals of the area while on a service trip. This experience influences a person’s interpretation of differences and allows parents the opportunity to mold children’s overall acceptance and respect for other cultures.
Everyone Will Grow
Every member of your family will develop and grow positively from the experiences on a service trip. There will be opportunities for parents to teach their kids about kindness, generosity, and acceptance, and moments for children to teach their parents how to play a new game learned from the children in the village. Everyone will walk away having learned a new skill or two—from painting a house, to how to lead a team. Some may find a new passion or career path to follow based on the work and services they provided on the trip. As a parent, it is important to provide children with the opportunities to learn in different ways and that is just what a service trip does. In the end, volunteers will come home feeling successful and empowered to continue giving back and making a difference in the lives of others, which ultimately provides a continuous opportunity for personal growth.
There is a common misconception that to attend a service trip you must be religiously driven, but the truth is all you need is a desire to give back and make a difference in the lives of others. As an alternative to the traditional summer vacation, a service trip offers a new adventure filled with many opportunities for quality family time and bonding, emphasis on values and personal development and special memories that will always be kept close to the heart. So, before all those summer activities pile up on the schedule, be sure to reserve a week or two to make a family adventure out of a service trip this year.