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Taking the Kids on a Volunteer Vacation

Page 4 of 4

By GreatSchools Staff

Global Volunteers organizes volunteer "service program" trips all over the world. Founded in 1984, this is the original "adventure in service" organization, according to its Web site, and was around before the term "volunteer vacation" existed. The group sponsors trips hosted by 100 local communities in 19 countries. Standard trips are one, two or three weeks, depending on the needs of the host community. Global Volunteers describes the purpose of its trips as a way to "wage peace personally and help eradicate racism; learn first-hand about poverty and homelessness; contribute to the successes of local development work." Projects range from teaching English to planting trees to building community centers. Fees for the trip range from $795 to $2,195.

For more information, see the Global Volunteers Web site and check here for specific information about family volunteering, or call 1-800-487-1074.

If exploring the great outdoors in the United States or close by is your bent, the American Hiking Society offers "trail stewardship projects." Founded in 1976, this nonprofit organization says it is dedicated to "establishing, protecting and maintaining the nation's footpaths." Its volunteer vacations are available in 75 locations in 25 states across the United States and the Virgin Islands.

Each crew consists of six to 15 volunteers plus a crew leader, who work on building and maintaining hiking trails on public lands. Hiking and backpacking are part of the week-long trips, several of which are designated as "family friendly." The trips are rated from easy to strenuous. The group says participants need to be in good physical condition but no prior experience is required. Accommodations range from campsites to cabins. You bring your own tent, sleeping bag and eating utensils. "Bring only your camping gear and a willingness to get dirty," the society advises in its brochure. On most trips, airport pickup is also provided. The one-week trips cost $245 for members and $275 for non-members.