Work With Children During Your VISIONS Program!
Working with young children in our host communities is often one of the most rewarding parts of VISIONS programs.
VISIONS community service programs are perhaps best known for the high-quality and high-impact construction projects that our teen volunteers have completed during our 30+ years of service. We also perform environmental work, from water conservation systems to removal of invasive weeds and organic community gardens that promote local food movements.
Rounding out the daily project options is the social service work that our high school volunteers perform every summer. Social service includes volunteering at local food banks and nonprofit thrift stores, helping at elder centers, and often working with children.
VISIONS programs are deeply ingrained in the communities where we work, and you’ll find that young children are our quintessential ambassadors. Driven by powerful inquisitiveness, they bypass language and cultural barriers to get to the objects of their curiosity, and teenagers are compellingly curious objects to these little children.
Our work with children also offers a wonderful opportunity for VISIONS teens who are interested in balancing the physical days with developing lesson plans and spending time with enthusiastic local kids. Participants spend meaningful time with youth, both at planned events such as day camps and school programs and at spontaneous neighborhood hang-outs — from pick-up games to cookouts.
Community youngsters who naturally gravitate towards VISIONS teens undoubtedly create one of the most amazing parts of the programs. At our Spanish language immersion programs, working with children also offers a great way to develop those language skills.
“Little children eagerly helping us build their school wall, dancing to our favorite new Dominican merengue or bachata songs, Batey children jumping on us for a piggyback ride…these are the things I remember most.”
—Danielle T., Dominican Republic
“The feeling I got when helping the children at the Rainbow House by building the playground and painting the bedrooms was one I will never forget… the smiles on every single one of the children’s faces!”
—Jordanna G., British Virgin Islands
VISIONS participants choose between three or four project sites each workday on a VISIONS program, and many return to a favorite site more often.
Just as our construction projects are diverse and designed to meet each community’s needs, the work we do with kids also varies among VISIONS summer program locations. If you’re excited about the opportunity of working with children during your VISIONS experience, here are some of the programs that will be of particular interest:
Despite being surrounded by water, many islanders don’t know how to swim. One of our favorite afternoon activities during our BVI program is teaching swim lessons to local children, with the supervision of a partner organization. There are often more 30 children participating in our swim lessons, and no prior teaching experience is needed!
Our local partner provides instruction, and much of your role will involve helping local kids get comfortable in the water, playing games and swimming with them. In addition to these swim lessons, we also help at a popular summer day camp.
We’ve run “campamento” (summer camp) during our DR program for more than 30 years. It’s often so popular that local kids have to attend on alternating days so that we have time to serve everyone! As a VISIONS participant, you will develop and implement lesson plans in collaboration with local teens and teachers, and campamento includes English classes, sports, art and crafts.
You’ll be able to work with a variety of classes, such as English, sports and arts & crafts. Bilingual Dominicans come with us to help facilitate lessons and translations, as needed. It’s a great way to work on your Spanish skills!
VISIONS participants spend time helping out around the summer “Farm Camp” at the neighboring Rocky Creek Farm. Farm Camp is a popular camp that brings in kids from the Gallatin Valley community, teaching them everything from collecting plants to dyeing wool. Children will also learn to feed pigs, collect eggs from chickens and more, and VISIONS participants help out all the while!
An ever-grateful group of primary school kids awaits “Kids Kollege” every summer during our Montana Northern Cheyenne programs. You will plan activities and outings, arrange guest speakers and create lesson plans that have a common theme of “healthy living.”
It’s a very important camp for these kids, as many of them don’t have much structure during the summers. Kids Kollege is integral to their development and they always LOVE the VISIONS kids. While we aren’t currently running the Montana Northern Cheyenne Program, it will be returning to our roster in 2023!
Even when working with kids is not formally on a program’s schedule at some locations, local children always manage to find us and lure us into playing with them, and they become a central part of the friendships and overall VISIONS experience. During our Peru Spanish Language Immersion Program, for example, participants often spend free time playing soccer with the local children in the small community of Urubamba.
Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky put it best: “The soul is healed by being with children.”
“I really enjoyed the day camp because I could see how excited the kids were for learning. It makes me happy to know that these are the kids of the next generation and they know the importance of education.”
—Claudia W., Dominican Republic
“While we were painting the alphabet on the interior of the preschool walls, in walked a group of children, reciting the alphabet as far as it went. It was so amazing to know that our work was making a difference, even then.”
—Madeleine G., Peru
BugOut’s Buzzworthy VISIONS Volunteers: Fighting Mosquitoes in the BVI
Throughout VISIONS British Virgin Islands’ program, dedicated teens have the opportunity to engage in a variety of meaningful projects aimed at making a positive impact. One such project is BugOut, an internship-type experience that focuses on mosquito research and control.
Paws-itive Impact: VISIONS Teens Volunteer on Animal Initiatives
VISIONS partners with PAW BVI (Promoting Animal Welfare) and ARC Virgin Gorda (Animal Rescue Corps), two organizations dedicated to the wellbeing and care of animals. Teen volunteers have the opportunity to help with animal-centered service while on a summer program in the BVI.
Spotlight: Antonia Lloyd-Davies, VISIONS Alum
Antonia, a VISIONS alum and returned Peace Corps Volunteer is now a software engineer in Seattle, WA and plays the fiddle in a bluegrass band. Read more about how her time with VISIONS has influenced her life.
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It might seem hard to effect change on your community as a student. But you CAN have a major impact—and in many ways, as a young person and student you’re better positioned to help than many others. Here’s how!