Why do teens volunteer?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by xray328, Sep 24, 2015.

  1. xray328

    xray328 Member

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    Obviously volunteering is an important part of a teens application to the Academy or any other prestigious school. Volunteering leads to NHS, etc. Since it's become a required part of the application process (well not required but try applying without it) does any kid really do it to for the philanthropic aspect of it? Do we expect teens to volunteer for the many benefits it provides others (and ultimately themselves)?

    I told a volunteer group my son was hoping for an academy appointment and he needed volunteer hours in support of that goal. I was told that if was just trying to "get hours" they didn't want him there.

    While I understand that volunteering should be about more than that, I doubt many teens do it with that in mind. As busy as they are with everything else, my hope is that volunteering, required or not, helps them learn the benefits of doing it which translates to their adult life. Certainly any "free time" could be better spent in most teenagers minds.

    I've just never heard of a group telling a volunteer we don't want you. I mean if the kid hates being there I get it, bad attitude etc. But a good kid wanting to volunteer to make his dreams happen shouldn't be turned away in my opinion.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. proudofmyboy

    proudofmyboy Member

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    Volunteering has become a requirement for almost any HS today, besides it being a part of the College Process. Volunteering at an organization to just punch a ticket will show. Academy apps have candidate statements about volunteer service, so they can read a bogus volunteer statement. Your son needs to find a passion for something and volunteer because it makes him feel good. Scouts have a handle on this as most start volunteering at age 11 and realize the positive impact it has as they help senior scouts work on Eagle Projects. You asking the organization and the statement you made to them clearly reflected that your son was punching a ticket and did not really care. I realize our kids are busy, but it cant always be about them. They have to care about others. Volunteering builds character, a trait that Service Academies look for.
     
  3. xray328

    xray328 Member

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    All true. I'm not sure "requiring" them to volunteer does much though. Are kids truly volunteering because they're enthusiastic about being there? I just think kids volunteer because they have to. I totally agree that we'd all love for our kids to want to give back to the community and do things for others etc. And in the statement they give they'll all say that's why they did it of course. But truth be told they did it because they had to, a means to an end.

    To say he didn't really care isn't true. He actually did care about the cause, but would he have been there if volunteering wasn't a requirement? No. Ok you need to volunteer, what can we find that you care about? Ok, great your into xyz, you support their cause etc. Again though I just don't think most kids do the hours because they want to give back. And it's probably because they're so busy, most kids that want to go to any of the prestigious school barely have time for " extra curriculars". If my son does has extra time (doesn't exist in his world) I'd rather see him doing something to relax a little and unwind. If volunteering does that for him, that's great. But I don't think that's the top thing on his mind.

    Again, my hope is he learns the benefits by doing the hours. I whole heartedly agree kids should be required to volunteer, there's certainly a lesson it teaches. But I don't think most kids do it with a willing spirit.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2015
  4. proudofmyboy

    proudofmyboy Member

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    Im not a teenager, so I can not answer for this generation. I will, however turn this post over to my son, an Eagle Scout, for input. He may not get back to you until tomorrow night, as he has a big soccer game tonight. Hopefully his perspective will help. Cant say I understand kids today. They are over tasked and somethings dont hit the top of their priority list. They look for the payoff. Believe me, I understand. everything my son has done the last few years I have evaluated as what is the payoff for his NROTC app and USNA app. He has rec both, a NROTC scholarship and appointment to the USNA. He has also stood his ground with what he thinks is the right thing to do, pay off or not, so I think his perspective might be beneficial.
     
  5. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    I think alot do it because they "have to" either for high school requirements or because of college. I was 50/50 in high school. Some of it I did, because it "looked good" and others I truly had a passion for it. Our basketball team in high school spent 100s of hours each year running free clinics for kids all over our community. I loved these and would do them again in a heartbeat (I do if I am home visiting mom and dad). Today I do spend a great deal of time volunteering, but there is no reason other than I want to give back. I know between hard work, a great upbringing and opportunities I live a pretty awesome life. I think the passion for volunteering and what it means doesn't really hit home until later in life simply because of experience and perspective.
     
  6. xray328

    xray328 Member

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    My son plays soccer too. He was getting to the point where he was going to be playing in the MRL league, a step below academy play. Since the USAFA is a D1 school we didn't see him playing for them. He really needed to be playing at the academy level by now (Chicago Fire Academy for instance). So like you, it came down to "what's going to get you into the academy?" He was already playing Varsity soccer so we didn't think playing competitive club offered any benefit. We worried about the potential for injuries that might not only take him out off soccer but ruin his chances at the USAFA too.
     
  7. xray328

    xray328 Member

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    Kinda my point, you require it so they learn the benefits. I feel like he has to fib a little from now on, smile and say you love to volunteer.
     
  8. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Compulsory Volunteering... my kids used to laugh about this all the time. For a while, our local high school was floating the idea that a kid was REQUIRED to have xxx VOLUNTEER hours to graduate and get a "normal" diploma; otherwise, they would get a diploma that said on it: "Did not meet required volunteer hours." Like, the kid was somehow deficient because he didn't volunteer (at least in a capacity recognized by the school). Then things broke down when the school decided it just could not count hours put in by kids at or for their churches/synagogues, but would accept only those hours put in on a list pre-approved by the school.

    Who do these people think they are?
     
  9. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Where I used to live in NOVA required the local kids to volunteer. Our HOA every year would work with a few of the older kids to set up and lead teams for projects around the neighborhood cleaning up some of the elderly folks properties, our common areas, playground maintenance, painting address numbers, etc. Heck it was great because it really cleaned up the neighborhood and was free labor! It was easy for the kids because they didn't have to go anywhere and also let them sort of get a sense of pride in cleaning up their own neighborhood.
     
  10. proudofmyboy

    proudofmyboy Member

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    No disrespect to the D1 Academies, but did your son consider the USCGA? D3 all have a chance to play. My son is waiting on his USCGA results, because he would really like to play soccer at a SA. Just a thought.
     
  11. xray328

    xray328 Member

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    That sounds like a great idea.

    A few weekends ago my son spent a Saturday afternoon parking cars for an event at the local airport. Nothing wrong with that, I just don't think he's going to wake up excited to start that day.

    He's running the Wreaths Across America fundraiser for his soccer team at school though, now that's something I think he'll really enjoy.
     
  12. xray328

    xray328 Member

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    Never looked into it. I'll make sure we investigate that , thanks for the suggestion.
     
  13. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    To address the question of "Do Kids actually volunteer because they WANT TO..... or because it's a "Square" on their college/academy applications"?

    As far as never heard of a group saying to a volunteer "We Don't Want you", that IS ACTUALLY THE NORM. They just happen to be too polite to say it to you.

    Not to sound rude, but to go up to a group and say that your son/daughter is applying for the academy and "NEEDS Volunteer Hours", is asking exactly for the response you received.

    Now, do some kids volunteer strictly for philanthropic reasons? That depends on how the kid was raised. Again, not trying to be rude. There are many examples of volunteer hours that kids do, NOT because it's a square on their academy/college application they are trying to fill. I know teens who have been involved with their church for many years, who really enjoy giving back to the community to the needy. My son's high school had a program sponsored by the NFL called "Play it smart - Sports". It paid for an "Academic Coach" to help ensure football players weren't the stereotypical "Dumb-Jock". The football players would all get together and combine their lunch hour with like a "Study Hall" with the Academic Coach to make sure all the players were caught up on their homework, doing well on tests, etc. My son, being a 4.0gpa student, wasn't required to attend; but because most of the other players were there, (Even those who didn't need to be), he attended too. He would pair up with different guys and help them as a tutor. He liked it so much, that he started going to some of the elementary schools to help teach little kids how to read. This was all done 2-3 years before ever applying to the academy or even thinking about the academy or college.

    The point is, there are so many ways to volunteer in the community. And it is definitely preferred that the volunteering you do actually MEANS something. So YES, there are a lot of kids who volunteer time tutoring, working with meals on wheels, helping young and old, raising awareness for our troops overseas or toys for tots, or breast cancer, etc.... and the majority of these kids are NOT doing it because they are applying to the academy or college. They are doing it because they are a lot more mature and responsible than most people give them credit for, and they've found a cause that they believe it.

    But yes, I have seen many times where a group like habitat for humanity, meals on wheels, etc. have told a person initially "NO THANKS" or later on realized that the individual wasn't there for the "RIGHT REASONS" and have thanked them for their time but said "We don't need your help". Again, I am not trying to sound rude, holier than thou, or any other self righteousness or contempt. But even when I've been involved with volunteer organizations, the first thing out of their mouth usually is: "Why do you want to volunteer"? If it's for some self-benefitting reason; other than to feel good because you believe in the cause, then most will tell you "No Thanks". They have too much invested in their program. They'd rather have 100 volunteers who are 100% committed because they truly want to be there..... than to have 500 volunteers who are there simply to pad their resume for other personal agendas.
     
  14. proudofmyboy

    proudofmyboy Member

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    Right on the Mark..Tomorrow night my boy will post a teen response..
     
  15. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Just a dad

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    To add to Mike's theme, we have raised all four of our children to volunteer. We did not push them into a soup kitchen while in kindergarten. We did however teach them at an early age that it was essential and expected in our family to "give back." We DID give them all the choice to volunteer for a cause that was meaningful to them. My oldest son loved archaeology and became a docent for the local historical society. My daughter loved horses and worked with a group that taught physically challenged children how to ride horseback (she got a side benefit of riding the horses anytime). They all got to choose a volunteer program that was attractive to them.

    Of course as parents, we knew that volunteerism would help them in their future. The key is that it is a result of affinity and not obligation.

    My point is that I believe that our children were raised in a "culture" that valued volunteerism and I think that came across as they grew older. It is hard to "act" sincere when you don't want to be there. Those who run the non-profits can see the box checkers a mile away.

    When our two sons decided they wanted to pursue the military, the volunteer experience was already a natural background component. They did not have to "scramble" to find an opportunity. When people ask me what our family did to raise successful children, I attribute a large chunk of this to the volunteerism.
     
  16. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Still, it does irk me when they call it "volunteer" when for many things, community service of some kind is a requirement, compulsory. It's not then "volunteer."

    My kids all did things for the church and town and neighbors because they wanted to do so - never to put on a check mark.
     
  17. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    For anyone who's kids are thinking of getting into the IB program; International baccalaureate program, an advanced academic program some schools offer, imagine every class is an AP class,... Along with that degree program comes what is called CAS hours. Creativity, action, service. In includes hundreds of hours of volunteer time. IB students who start in the 9th grade, already know that this is part of their diploma program. This is known before any viewing of college or academy applications. Like others have said, by the time college and academy applications have begun, volunteering hours is something that is already taken care of because it's something they've already been doing for years.

    But I do understand how some kids haven't done much volunteering, and how it's difficult to try and get stuff like that in at the last minute when doing college and academy applications. So the first thing to do, is to find some area your son or daughter is interested in volunteering. Next, don't mention that you're doing it to pad an application. If it's something that interests your kid, then you don't have to lie, just say your interested in helping out.

    If you can't find a group to volunteer for, then do it on your own. Every town has some sort of homeless shelter or soup kitchen or church group helping people. Have your kid get permission from school to place some boxes in school for kids to drop off canned foods or toys, and have him advertise for it and then take the items to the shelter, kitchen, churches, etc. if she or he knows of some elderly neighbors, knock on their door and volunteer to rake their leaves, shovel snow, cut grass, etc. for free. Nothing inside the house, something the elderly person won't feel intimidated or apprehensive about. Ask the school if they have a tutoring program or if they know of students who might want a tutor. Maybe a special Ed class that could use some help.

    Point is, volunteering does need to be something that the volunteer cares about, it should be a selfless act, but even if it is something just to pad a resume, there are plenty of ways to accomplish this.

    WARNING: no matter why a person volunteers to help someone else, whether for personal gratification or to pad a resume, it WILL have a positive affect on them. They WONT be the same person afterwards. Best of luck.
     
  18. meganp98

    meganp98 Member

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    As a teenager myself (& Candidate for USAFA Class of 2020), I can honestly say it depends on their motives. I volunteered at my local hospital for over two years and enjoyed it so much that I would sign up for double shifts on a regular basis. That being said, I have a strong interest in the medical field and I loved the real-life experience it taught me. From volunteering in the Emergency Room and seeing a bit of everything, to assisting on the birth & delivery units. I managed to rack up 150+ hours and loved every minute of it. If I had the time, I would go back in a heartbeat. When I was accepted into my school's nursing program, I wrote a thank you note to all of the nurses at the hospital- they had taught me so much and truly left an impact on my life!

    That being said, I believe our youth still volunteers out of the kindness of their heart. Now that is not necessarily the case for everyone, but if their volunteer work is something they're passionate about- they will remember it for the rest of their life.

    Just thought I would add my two cents, have a wonderful weekend everyone!
     
  19. proudofmyboy

    proudofmyboy Member

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    The Scouting program starts Scouts volunteering at an early age. From doing a little bit of volunteering as Cub Scouts, to much more involvement as Boy Scouts. After an initial introduction into service, there are two options going forward: either the Scout enjoys the service and continue to find other interests to volunteer with later, or the Scout treats the service as something required of the program. For me, I especially enjoyed projects during which I could see immediate results and appreciation for those I was helping.

    My personal Eagle Scout Project was at Animal Welfare Association, for which I planned the deconstruction of a medical supply shed and the building of a much larger shed, plus a gravel base for water drainage, plus internal shelving. This project was critical to my development as a leader, as I had to be the one to coordinate both Scouts that were my peers but also adults with much more experience in the carpentry field.

    Although my Eagle Scout Project is just one specific example, all volunteer work should accomplish a variety of goals: 1) Leadership development-After consistently volunteering with a group, one should be able to show leadership in training and helping other volunteers 2) Enjoyment- Attitude is everything for making sure that all volunteers work harmoniously together. Do something you truly enjoy and it won't feel like work 3) Humility- One should be able to realize that there are 7 billion other people in this world and with every act of service realize that one is helping a larger and larger group of people 4) Time management- Volunteering takes time, definitely, so being able to manage available time is critical to being successful in volunteering, while remaining successful in school.

    Lastly, volunteering needs to be something that truly resonates with the volunteer. My project required 100 hours of my own planning work, plus coordinating more than 425 man-hours from other volunteers. I still volunteer as a Coach on a middle school academic team and as a student ambassador for my school, along with odds-and-ends service, such as helping with the Moorestown Friends School thrift shop. I hit my maximum hours sometime around Freshman-Sophomore year due to Scouts and our school intensive learning projects, as I had participated in multiple week-long service trips, and had a blast. It really isn't about the hours, but about the bonding experience between everyone volunteering and about the impact that can be had with even just an hour or two of dedicated service.
     

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