Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer of Service...

After I put the kids to bed on the last day of school, I got to thinking about what was ahead.  And I realized...nothing.  No camps scheduled, no family trips 'til the end of July, and then add to that a husband who has a very loaded travel schedule for most of the summer...hmmmm.  With a completely empty summer upon us I began sifting through all those camp booklets, started researching 3 day getaways, and wondered if it was too late to sign up for art classes.  But then I remembered as I was glancing over the cost of these adventures, that I don't schedule these things for a reason...for five children...it's EXPENSIVE! 

Feeling defeated and beginning to panic over the thought of being their sole entertainment for the next 9 weeks I began to brainstorm.  What are some things I have been wanting to do with them that we don't have time for during the school year?  What do I want my kids to learn this summer?  Should we just go lazy and spend it by the pool relaxing?  No, they should stay focused and learn something.  What if we had a theme?  What if we took road trips throughout the state seeing in real life some things they had learned about in school this year...study some history...or sit on the banks of the Mississippi River and search for birds and owls?  Oh my God, what am I going to do with them ALL. SUMMER. LONG??  Wait......GOD? 

And with that thought, the "Summer of Sevice" idea was born.  I decided that we will do at least one service project/volunteer opportunity every week for the duration of the summer to help them get into the habit of serving God by serving others.  I am really looking forward to getting the kids out of their comfort zones a bit and spending this time with them!  We have so much to learn from others and we have never done anything like this before as a family so intentionally.  We regularly jump into many projects through church and school, and have supported friends and families with their ideas as well.  But actually searching something out is somewhat new.  And with the kids all finally old enough to handle just about anything in some capacity or another our opportunities will be plenty!

Our Summer of Service unofficially began last week.  Our oldest daughter started us out with a service project of her own.  For her last week of school she served with a few other classmates at the downtown Minneapolis YWCA in the childcare center, helping out with the daily activities with the Kindergarten class.   

She had a great attitude and was excited from the get go to participate.  One of her biggest challenges throughout the week was handling multiple children at once trying to snag her attention in it's entirety.  Practicing patience was something she needed to learn instantaneously.  You can't just lash out in frustration with a strange child like you can in the comfort and safety of your own home with your siblings where there is unconditional love!  

She enjoyed her experience so much that she emailed the center back and asked if she could continue to serve throughout the summer and was very disappointed when they responded that their volunteer schedule was full and she would have to wait again until next year.  Such a bummer!!  A week later she is still talking about the children she worked with and how much she misses them!

I'm very proud of my daughter for her enthusiasm and maturity during this week.  Every evening when she came home we talked about her problem solving strategies and how she handled different situations throughout the day.  She also kept a journal, which was a requirement for her class, documenting her experience.  It was a great start to her summer and a great start for the family to hear about her experiences so we can also glean from them!  I am looking forward to getting the rest of the kids involved in serving this summer and seeing how we all work together, mature, grow, and become more aware of the world outside of our own.  It's going to be a very good thing!  And, guess what??  Serving God and others can be FREE!!

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