Planning to travel and looking for something different for your next family getaway or teen's spring break? Family travel experiences can be used as a time to experience different cultures and help others in need. Consider a family volunteer vacation for an upcoming family trip. Researchers at the Family Travel Network have found some great sponsoring organizations that would greatly appreciate your help.
A number of volunteer travel organizations welcome families and older children. Global Citizens Network, a nonprofit organization based in Minnesota, is one of these groups that welcome families. Each of their trips are lead by a team leader, and have included volunteers ranging in age from 8-80. Volunteer opportunities are available in New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Mexico, Nepal, Guatemala, Kenya and Tanzania. For more information, visit their website at www.globalcitizens.org or call their offices at 800-644-9292.
Cross-Cultural Solutions sends volunteers abroad to assist with their Volunteer Work Programs in Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Peru, Tanzania, Thailand and Russia. Volunteer opportunities last from 2-12 weeks, and internships abroad are also available. In addition, one week "Insight Programs" are also offered. The minimum age for a child traveling with a parent or guardian is 8 years old. For more information, visit their website at www.crossculturalsolutions.org or call them at 800- 380-4777.
Nature lovers should look into opportunities with the Oceanic Society. This organization annually takes over 5,000 individuals on participatory research expeditions, natural history expeditions, and other volunteer activities. For more information, visit their website at www.oceanic-society.org or call 800-326-7491. Additional nature-oriented volunteer opportunities for high school and college students are available through The Student Conservation Association. This group is America's largest provider of national and community conservation opportunities. SCA volunteers and interns work in the national parks, forests, refuges, and urban areas in all 50 states. For more information, visit their website at www.sca-inc.org or contact them at 603-543-1700.
Volunteer America connects families with volunteer vacations on public lands all across the United States. The opportunities are offered by a variety of organizations, and range from trail building to archeological digs and whale counting. For more information, visit their website at www.volunteeramerica.net/vacations.
Volunteers For Peace provides information on international workcamp opportunities for adults, college students, teens and families. Over the last 20 years, Volunteers for Peace has placed over 20,000 volunteers in international workcamps. The majority of the programs are for adults or teens over the age of 15, although a limited number of family workcamps are offered. For more information, visit their website at www.vfp.org or call them at 802-259-2759.
In addition to the opportunities mentioned above, suggestions for other organizations offering volunteer vacations are provided on the yellow sidebar. If you know of a great sponsoring organization, share the news with other families. Send us your feedback, and we'll add it in this area. Volunteer -- and enjoy an experience that will enrich your life and the lives of others.