By Isabella, age 14, New Jersey
For some people, summer means two and a half months packed with beaches, parties, friends, and romance, and every day bursting with excitement and fun. But for those of us who don't live in a novel, as nice as it is to be out of school, summer can turn into days spent slouching in front of a computer screen or flopped on a couch with the TV on. So how do you spend your time without resorting to hours on Tumblr or LOLcats?
One way is community service. Volunteering may sound like a chore, but if you approach it the right way, it can turn into a great opportunity. It gives you a chance to explore any of your interests without locking yourself in. For instance, maybe you like the idea of medicine as a career but you're not sure if you're really cut out for it. Why not volunteer at a local hospital? Or, maybe you love little kids. There are plenty of summer camps and programs for the younger set where you could help out. Once you start volunteering, you might find that you love what you're doing, which is fantastic, but you might also find that it's not meant for you. If that's the case, you can always try somewhere else. Who knows? Maybe you'll find something you're really passionate about. There's nothing more fulfilling than working for a cause you truly care for.
Not only is volunteering a great way to spend long and otherwise boring days, summer is the best time for community service. Most schools require a set number of hours to complete in order to graduate, but what with homework, the SATs, AP tests, and other trials and tribulations of high school life, it's difficult to get this done during the school year. However, in the summer, you have more than enough time to devote to volunteering without stressing over everything else in your life.
Of course, it's also important to know how to find volunteering opportunities. There are many websites online that can help you find them. Possibly the best is VolunteerMatch. There, you can put in your location, some keywords of what you want to do (such as "children"), and even if you're interested in virtual volunteering. If you select "advanced search," you can also specify such information as areas of interest and opportunities for a particular age group.
With this site, you should be all set for community service. This is a great way to explore your interests, find new ones, and still have a fun and fulfilling summer to rival those of your beach-partying friends.