Thought #10: The Benefits of Volunteering

Riding home on the bus after volunteering for Seven Tepees Youth Program‘s (7Tepees) Annual Camping Trip, I felt a strong sense of contentment.

Even though volunteering for the annual camping trip meant 24/(7 minus 2) of supervising and managing young people, which was challenging for sure, what I gained in return was five days outdoors in the beautiful Mammoth Lakes with high school students that I’ve mentored and watched grow since middle school, as well as an opportunity to reunite with program staff whom I consider friends after years of adventures in the wilderness of California.

Each day of the camping trip was occupied by a cool experience. Some days we were shuttling to trails that led to mountain lakes, other days we were carpooling to the local pool to cool off with the breathtaking views of mountains and plains as our backdrop, and most days we were enjoying free time around our campsite tossing around a football, and playing card games, Connect Four, and Jenga – no matter what the group was doing, I always had a lot of fun.

After having such a great experience volunteering with the staff and youth of 7Tepees, I wanted to breakdown a few of the things you could gain by volunteering for an organization that has a mission you get excited about – keep reading in Thought #10.

Experience Leading and Facilitating

This year, I noticed that I got a chance to step up and practice my leadership and facilitation skills by leading activities with the youth and staff of 7Tepees.

Whether I was stepping up to serve dinner, facilitating Guess Who, a community building activity facilitated over the course of the entire trip, or coordinating the 5th annual Project Nature Runway Show, a tradition where the youth design ensembles out of items found in the natural environment plus a little duct tape, there where always opportunities for me to rise to occasion and be helpful.

Most times, when you volunteer with an organization, you are serving an essential function, so volunteering provides a great opportunity to cultivate skill sets, such as leadership and facilitation skills, which could potentially catapult your career to the next level.

A Network and Appreciation

It’s often the case that when you volunteer with an organization, you become the beneficiary of much appreciation and goodwill, which  has definitely been the situation with 7Tepees and me.

The picture above depicts an activity I participated in with the group at the conclusion of our trip. Everyone was instructed to write an appreciation for each member of the group, and I found the personal messages that the staff and youth  wrote for me to be especially touching – go figure.

By volunteering on this trip, I was also able to reconnect with former coworkers and forge some new relationships with current staff and volunteers, plus I was in beautiful and restorative Mammoth Lakes!

Rich Material for Applications and Interviews

Let’s be honest, volunteering can provide a rich source of material for college applications and job interviews, especially in response to questions that ask: “what do you do outside work?” and “Who are you?”

These questions want to prove that you are interesting outside of being a student or an employee – volunteering is a great way to do that.

Though I’ve only included 3 benefits of volunteering, I’m sure that there are more – If you can think of additional benefits, take a moment and leave a comment for me and those who enjoy Thoughts to read and benefit from.

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