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Summer Volunteering Programs for High School Students
The best answer for what you did this summer.
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Ah, summertime. Those much-needed months of warm weather, lazy days, and no school. But if you find yourself with too much time on your hands and not enough to do (like after your third re-watch of Stranger Things), try putting your energy towards making an impact. There are tons of volunteer opportunities for teens in general, but when school’s out, look out for summer volunteering programs specific to the season.

From conservation to education, learn about some of the different kinds of summer volunteering programs made just for high school students. (And ways to find your own volunteering path.)

Types of Summer Volunteering Programs

Hospital Programs

Maybe it’s all those sunburns and bug bites, but hospitals usually need some extra help over the summer, and a lot of them offer summer volunteer programs for high schoolers. Here are some examples from Children’s National Health System and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, but you can also search for opportunities at your local medical center. Just don’t expect to be doing Grey’s Anatomy-level work -- most of them are more administrative or facilities-based. Rest assured, your impact will still be felt, since it’s just as important that patients have fresh linens, flower deliveries, or somebody to talk to.

Conservation Programs

Over the summer, you’re probably already spending a lot of time outdoors, so why not do some good while you’re at it? Volunteer at your local park, beach, forest, or other summer spot doing outdoorsy stuff like maintaining structures, cleaning up litter, and improving wildlife habitat. You could also join one of the Student Conservation Association’s Summer Community Crews, or the National Park Service’s Youth Conservation Corps to protect these natural places for many, many summers to come.

Summer Meal Programs

About 30 million students depend on free and reduced lunches during the school year, which means the summertime can mean trouble for young people living with food insecurity. Luckily, tons of food pantries and meal providers know this, and they take steps to help keep folks fed and healthy when school isn’t in session. That’s where you come in! Volunteer to collect, pack, and distribute meals to help fill the gaps that the summer brings. Try finding your local Feeding America food bank to get started with their summer programs.

Museum Programs

Summertime doesn’t mean that learning stops. Actually, for a lot of people, it’s the perfect time to learn something new at museums across the country, and some museums even offer summer camps or special programming for visitors. Be a part of history (or science, or art, or...espionage) at these institutions by volunteering over the summer. But don’t take our word for it -- read about this teen’s experience volunteering at the San Diego History Museum's summer camp, and then ask about volunteer programs at your local museum.

Find Your Own Summer Volunteering Path

These are by no means the only options you have for your ventures in summer volunteering. If you’re looking for something different (or something a little less structured than a formal program), there are a few places to find them. Lead your own volunteer efforts with the campaigns over at DoSomething.org, search local opportunities with VolunteerMatch, or create a project yourself using these Summer of Service ideas from Youth Service America.

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