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My daughter is a Junior Independent Girl Scout Member currently working on her Bronze Award. For the first time, this project NEEDs to be student-led. Previously, projects were organized by the parents with some input from the members but in reality the Scouts followed directions on what to do with little thought. Now, at this stage, the ideas and the organization needs to be initiated by the child and the parent serves more as a facilitator. This is a major game changer and we had to rethink how to help the youth lead volunteer projects.
I’ve spent many years working with educators, parents, and volunteer managers that want to plan meaningful service opportunities for young volunteers. There are some challenges involved but teaching children about the volunteer opportunities in a way they understand is possible.
This post will discuss how you can help your child lead volunteer projects.
Trust them to Lead Volunteer Projects
The last thing I realized is that I just need to trust the process and let the girls lead. By using the Event Checklist to Help Youth Lead a Volunteer Project we covered each step and they had some really great ideas. The checklist also has spots for them to create a shopping list and to do list while they are planning. With trusting them, I allowed their voice to be heard. In the end, they were more excited about what the get to do and really felt like they are leaders of the project.
Help by asking questions
The first step to helping your child lead a volunteer project is to ask him or her questions. By doing this, I was able to guide the Girl Scout members. I still could facilitate the conversation and make sure all the event planning steps were covered but they were able to answer the questions and make their own decisions.
Help by being open
At one point in the conversation I asked the question, “How will volunteers know where to go and how will they feel welcomed when they arrive?” I was getting a little worried about the responses. At one point they decided to have a bear (stuffed animal) on a table with a “Welcome” sign. I anxiously wanted to take control of the conversation and offer suggestions but, instead, I kept an open mind. They did decide that they would keep the bear but would also have directional signs to the event. They would have a sign-in sheet and NAME TAGS! I had not even thought about having name tags but this was a really great suggestion.
Did you find this information helpful?
Does this information inspire you to do more but it feels a little overwhelming?
No worries. I’m here for you!
You can go deeper by taking my online course – The Complete Guide for Service Project Coordinators: Starting with the Basics. The course includes 8 modules, 36 mini-lessons, and lots of printables to help you plan successful and meaningful service opportunities for youth volunteers.