This post has taken a while. Many things have distracted me from zen-like reflection recently. But it’s a bit different – and it is indeed reflective!
Kids ‘activities’ vs volunteering – what’s the difference?
We have spent a lot of our time at Organiclea’s growing site over the years. Whether volunteering, visiting or delivering, Ivy and I have generally been together. Time moves on… and this summer Liz and Jess embarked on Forest School sessions, so for the very first time me and Ivy went our separate ways. I shovelled compost and planted beetroot, and Ivy made blackberry paint and drilled holes in bits of wood.
So – volunteering alone. How did I feel? Well… It was BLOOMIN’ BRILLIANT! I had random, short bursts of conversations with other volunteers without someone butting in. I was able to listen properly to Ru explaining the watering system to me. And I then stood watering beetroots for a long time having no conversation with ANYONE. After the week I’d had, this was blissful. I didn’t have to tell anyone to stay on paths, or keep anyone interested with the promise of snacks. And Ivy loved larking about in the forest without me!
But my feelings are ultimately mixed. Here’s why.
I still want to volunteer with Ivy. I want to volunteer alone if I can too, and I would LOVE for Ivy to continue doing Forest School sessions with the wonderful Liz and Jess. But volunteering is different to activities and workshops. Volunteering is getting something done, and when you’re a kid it’s getting something done with other adults, and possibly other kids of different ages around you. And when you’re a kid you do precious little ‘getting something done’. Alot of stuff is done to you. Like this National Trust video explains about its family volunteering programme…. it’s really not just an activity. “We can come back and say…WE did that”.
It’s true that it’s much harder with Ivy:
- I have to make sure there’s always something around the corner to keep her interest. Including snacks. Have I mentioned snacks much?!
- I get less done myself.
- We possibly get in the way of other volunteers… if they’re honest…!
But we achieve, and we achieve together, and as she grows she is capable of achieving more and more. And I think this is why involving kids and young people in as many volunteer projects as possible supports our communities and societies, not just in the short term but in the Very Very long term indeed.
The Forest School will be at Organiclea’s Open Days in November, January and February – more info at Organiclea’s website .
National Trust have loads of resources if you’re interested in encouraging more carers/kids to volunteer with your project
And if you want to volunteer – have a look at the How To post. Good luck and let me know how it goes!