There is nothing quite like working side-by-side with your family. At home, family dynamics are often hierarchical. Parents steer the ship, provide guidance, mete out discipline, and otherwise oversee their children’s lives. Kids do what kids do: play, create mischief, delight, and challenge authority. Grandparents often oversee the overseers. They float above the daily fray, spoil, charm, and dispense wisdom. These dynamics evolve naturally and they’re different in every family. But sometimes challenging the dynamic is a good thing. It sets each family member apart as an individual.
Voluntouring as a family is a great way to shake up family dynamics. Working on a community-building project, for example, provides each person with a task, and each task matters. The family members work individually but they are all contributing to an overarching project, they are all parts of the whole. These types of voluntours teach kids responsibility while teaching parents not to underestimate the capabilities of their children. Kids are deep wells of compassion. Their empathy and observations enrich any volunteering experience. Grandparents can see their own children working hard, and their grandchildren growing up. They feel strong and included and valued. And they are challenged to keep up.
When I was in high school, I worked for the Sierra Club. I was canvassing door-to-door, trying to get donations to save old growth forests. While canvassing wasn’t for me—I don’t have the iron will to stand up to doors slammed in my face—the organization was. The Sierra Club has a long history of environmental activism. They run campaigns on a wide variety of issues, from recycling to protecting grizzly bears. They also run voluntours for families. Most of their trips are in the Western US, in places like Yosemite National Park and the Tahoe National Forest.
The Sierra Club has set the standard for many of today’s environmental advocacy organizations. Their projects are long-term and sustainable and they have extensive experience managing teams of volunteers. Their trail-building and maintenance voluntours include plenty of time for recreation: swimming, camping, hiking, and visiting local landmarks. The trips are designed to be multigenerational so they are not overly strenuous, even for people with minor leg or feet problems. They provide detailed instructions on what to bring and how to prepare and have extensive safety protocols and guidelines. They have a cook along for the trip and encourage volunteers to share in food preparation and clean up. For families looking for an exciting, stress-free, and rewarding multigenerational voluntour, the Sierra Club is an excellent choice.