On the Importance of Summertime Teen Community Service

Good day to you, Community-Minded Citizens of the World!

As our 2011 season is well under way, and we field eager inquiries from all over the States and beyond about our programs, we are hearing more and more questions about how we incorporate community service into our programs.

First, we believe that community service and volunteering is an essential part of a teen’s exposure to the greater world.   With our projects, we try to plant the seeds of community-awareness and a service-mindfulness in each of our students.   Our goal is that our community service projects will, of course, benefit the community that we are serving, but also positively affect our students’ confidence and character in ways that carry over into the rest of the summer, the school year and beyond.

To further that philosophy, every one of our trips incorporates some amount of community service, from our week-long New England Mountains and Coast (NEMC) to our Caribbean Service Adventure (where students may participate in up to 70 hours of community service).   Even our America Coast to Coast crew hops on to the service train, stopping in Prescott, Arizona, to work with the Boys and Girls Club in town, telling stories about their cross-country ride and teaching safe riding techniques to the local kids.

Our shorter trips, community service might mean working with a local land trust to repair trails at a preserve — as our NEMC groups did last summer with the Brunswick-Topsham and Harpswell Heritage Land Trusts here in Maine.   Other groups will do their service projects with Rangers in State or National Parks throughout the country.   A centerpiece of our Montana Service Adventure is the three days our teens spend working with the Rangers at Glacier National Park, working on trail projects throughout this jewel of a park.   Other service projects are even more far-flung.   Our Downeast Explorer groups will paddle to their projects — working with the Maine Island Trail Association to clean marine debris from remote islands in beautiful Isle au Haut Bay.

And, finally, our Tuscan Service Adventure folks are even more far-flung as they work with Tuscan and Umbrian farmers to preserve the sustainable way of life on small farms in an ancient land.

I hope this gives you some idea of what our teen community service projects are like, and why service is so important to us.   Please give us a call anytime with questions about service projects on any of our trips!