Benefits of Teen Volunteers

teenvolThe summer Reading Program is full swing and with over 1000 kids plus 300 teens signed up, you can imagine how busy the library can be especially during peak hours!  With so many kids and teens coming in to return reading logs and getting prizes, the librarians rely on a large team of summer teen volunteers.  At the library, the teen volunteers may do a variety of tasks, including handing out reading prizes, keeping the children’s area picked up and helping to prep storytime crafts. 

Teens are allowed to sign up as library volunteer once they have completed the fifth grade and many teens will volunteer for several summers in a row.  First time volunteer Luke Prentice said, “I wanted to volunteer for the Summer Reading Program because it was a new experience and I wanted to try it.”

Spending time as a volunteer can be a valuable experience for teens.  Many schools, clubs and organizations require service hours to be completed.  Many people think volunteering is simply a way to do something good for others, but it can be even more than that, especially for teens.  By having new experiences during volunteer opportunities, teens may develop new skill, explore potential career options, expand their social circle, discover a new passion and grow in their personal values and beliefs.   

There are other long term benefits of volunteering as a youth.  According to a report by the Nevada Extension, youths who volunteer are less likely to engage in destructive behavior, more likely to do well in school and vote.  Furthermore, when teen volunteers become adults, they are more likely to continue to volunteer, have a strong work ethic and give to charitable organizations.  (http://www.unce.unr.edu/publications/files/cd/2003/fs0323.pdf) These intangible benefits all translate towards to stronger communities. 

A great way to get kids and teens started volunteering is to volunteer as a family.  Setting an example of volunteering is a powerful model for kids to emulate.  Some ideas for volunteering include checking with local animal shelters, religious organizations and civic organizations.   Also, remember volunteering does not have to be structured through an organization.  Families and youth may practice community stewardship by picking up trash in public places, helping an elderly neighbor with yard work or organizing a donation drive to collected needed items for local charities. 

John F. Kennedy’s words are just as true today as they were over fifty years ago. “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”  Starting early will ensure that you help your children live up to this timeless axiom for the rest of their lives.