"The success of this trip is in the attitude that you have towards it. The more gung ho you are, the more you will love it."
The most responsible thing you can do when volunteering with your family is being open to differences. These are real projects that you are getting involved with, working in real communities often with completely different cultures and lifestyles than those you might be accustomed to. You need to stay open to this, be prepared to adapt to the daily routines of your host communities, the unpredictable weather and normal, everyday accommodation. By travelling with a responsible volunteering company, you will ensure that your interests and age ranges are well matched with local project needs.
Research has shown that the organisations with the highest fees are not necessarily the most responsible – and the fee may even have an inverse relationship to the value of the placement
. Likewise, ‘cool’ marketing with extravagant websites that entice family volunteers, but mask the real grassroots nature of the project, aren’t always a reliable way to judge a volunteering organisation.
The secret to finding the right project that really has a local impact but that will also suit your family’s interests, skills and age ranges is to ask lots of questions. Any truly responsible organisation will take the time to answer these, and be able to do so with confidence, and with a genuine knowledge of the country, community and conservation project you are hoping to contribute to. For example, the organisation should be willing and able to put you in touch with former family volunteers to learn more about their experience, and how they feel they helped. Check out our 10 questions to ask your volunteer company
before you pursue this family trip of a lifetime.
Finally, a good starting point is to remember that you’re not going to change the world – if it really were that easy, charities and volunteers would have ceased to exist long ago. They do, however, all make a difference. Although you should be aware that there is a difference between taking baby steps to create change, and paying good money for something that is no more than a tokenistic gesture and, in short, a bit of a money making racket.