A Guide For Parents
Being involved with a volunteer programme can have many benefits for a young solo traveller. If your child wants to go abroad, volunteering is generally a safe alternative when it comes to travelling alone. That being said, it is still natural to be nervous, or at least cautious, regarding your child taking off to a new country on their own.
Here is a guide for parents to know what to look out for, how to be prepared, and perhaps to help you feel more comfortable with sending your child off to volunteer.
Ensure Safety and Accompaniment
Signing on to a volunteer programme before leaving your country can be a good thing. It will provide your child with safety measures, and can be a secure way to begin a solo travel experience. For example, if you volunteer with Globalteer, you are provided with a private airport pickup. This will ensure that your child will arrive safe and sound to their final destination. Moreover, the volunteer programme will be there to fill your child's time during the day, while still leaving them plenty of time to explore the city they are in and its surroundings.
Benefits of Volunteering Abroad for your Child
There are many benefits to volunteering abroad. Your child will get to know the area in which they’re staying on a deeper level. Moreover, they will learn about a new country from a different angle and contribute to local communities.
It has been proven through surveys that volunteering is mutually beneficial for the donor and the recipient (Wuthnow 1991). Also, this article suggests that volunteering is beneficial for teenagers & young adults, as “it keeps them out of trouble.”
Volunteering is also a great experience for your child to step out of their comfort zone. This will allow them to learn about themselves and grow as a person. Also, this is the opportunity to encourage them to unplug and have a digital detox while volunteering abroad.
It might also be a chance for your child to meet other people from all over the world. It will give them an open mind and new perspective, which will be great for their future.
Volunteering will bring your child to develop lifelong skills that will help them through their careers and their everyday life.
However, it is important to do some research together with your child before choosing a volunteer organisation. Choose one that makes you feel confident and that you feel like you can rely on. There will always be a contact person for the volunteers (if not, choose a different programme) that you can email, call, or even ask for a skype conversation. Here are some questions you can ask the staff before deciding on a volunteer organisation:
You can make sure that they have a person to pick up the volunteers at the airport, making their arrival safe and comfortable.
You can ask if there are other volunteers working with the programme at the moment. It will give your child a perfect chance to meet likeminded people and make this a safe and social experience.
You can ask about the accommodation. Will your child be sharing with someone? Is the accommodation in a safe area? If your child will be staying in a homestay, how well does the organisation know the family?
The staff of a volunteer organisation will often be around to help out if your child needs a doctorbor just a visit to the pharmacy. This is also something you can make sure of beforehand.
Ask for a telephone number of a contact person at the organisation that you can call if it so happens that your child does not pick up her/his phone.
You can also give the staff your phone number, so they can easily contact you in case of an emergency.
Check real reviews on Facebook to see what other people say about the organisation.
With some caution and research beforehand, going off to volunteer can be a great gift for your child, giving them the adventure of a lifetime. This will be a learning experience that can open their minds through encountering cultural diversity. Moreover, it will give them a different perspective than what they are used to in their own country. The challenge of going abroad alone can be strengthening, improve their confidence and their awareness, and give them lifelong memories and friends from around the world!