By Jen Hagan
While it may be daunting to think of developing a volunteer program for the younger generation with as much as they have going on these days, it is a great way for them to learn and experience being a part of giving back. Volunteering is an opportunity for youth to find what they are passionate about as well as what their talents are. It provides kids a chance to step away from school and sports and be a part of something that helps their community and the greater good. Volunteering is also a steppingstone for youth to understand the purpose of being part of their community and giving their time to others. The value of volunteering is increasingly being recognized as many schools across the country have made it a requirement for graduation. Once we get back into the world of live events, consider incorporating a youth volunteer program into yours.
The Susan G. Komen 3-Day has created such an opportunity with their Youth Corps program. The Youth Corps is a select group of young people (10 – 16 years old) who participate as crew members on the event. The Youth Corps members attend the entire 3-Day event, including camping with the participants and a multitude of important tasks both on the route and in camp. Along with volunteering, they are required to raise $500 to participate. As teenagers prepare for life in the “real world,” so to speak, there are three core life skills the Youth Corps program provides.
Selection for the Youth Corps is done through an application process. Each potential member submits an application and will then have a 15-20 minute interview with the Youth Corps Captain. The objective of the interview is to determine the youth’s affinity for things such as the ability to work as part of a team, their interpersonal skills and their connection to the cause.
The interview takes place with just the child and the Youth Corps Captain; parents are not included at this step, which is a great first step to build self-confidence. This process provides the experience of learning how to speak about yourself and your skillset along with why you feel you are the right person for the role. These are all things that will help as they grow older and have to interview for jobs or school admission.
If selected, they are required to raise $500 to participate. This also builds confidence because they learn to ask for donations by sharing why they are volunteering as well as their connection to the cause. Learning what the money they raised will be used for gives them a sense of pride knowing how they have helped the Susan G. Komen organization and those facing breast cancer.
On the 3-Day event, this group of young people spends three full days working together as a team. They will eat, sleep, and serve, all for one common cause. They will quickly learn they are not individuals on this event, but a team with important responsibilities that support hundreds of participants on event. Some will rise as leaders to help guide the others and together, they will learn to work as a team and hold one another accountable for getting things done.
During the 3-Day, the Youth Corps works as a group to help the walkers who are walking 60 miles in three days. This comes in many different forms while they are on the event. It could be cheering the walkers in at a pit stop or camp, handing out bracelets or helping carry their lunch or dinner to their dining spot. Whatever the task, the Youth Corps is there to be of service to the walkers.
Walking 60 miles is a daunting task and the Youth Corps is there to share their energy and offer help that is always sure to put a smile on all the walkers faces. The service of helping people and giving their time provides a feeling of accomplishment and giving back to others and their communities.
Live experiences are imprinted on our brains in a way that truly changes us and providing youth with opportunities like the Youth Corps program provides a roadmap to a lifetime of volunteering and giving back.