All News

Connecting Kids to Service

Ryan Reed — October 10, 2018


When I was a camper, Camp Takodah Candlelight ceremonies offered me nothing short of an education.

For the uninitiated, Candlelight is the final evening program of each session at Takodah. The ceremony is held in Memorial Lodge, and it’s reflective, thought-provoking, and visually stunning–the building is dimly lit except for thousands of candles.

Throughout the course of the evening Takodians sing, read poetry, share stories, play musical instruments, and give “Candle Talks” on their interpretation of one of seven topics–friendship, knowledge, beauty, worship, health, service, and character. Over the years, those talks had a significant effect on my system of values, and some have been so memorable and inspirational that they continue to influence my choices as an adult.

In my opinion, the candle of service is often one of the most interesting talks, because everyone defines service differently. Most Takodians understand intuitively that service comes in many forms–choosing the hard right over the easy wrong, picking up trash, or making a friendship bracelet for a homesick cabin mate. However, I’ve found that many campers struggle to articulate what service means to them in the context of their own lives, especially once they leave camp and return to “the real world”.

With the holidays around the corner, there’s no better time to talk with your kids about service. If you need some inspiration to get your kids motivated to give back, here are a few ideas:

Share The Stuff You Can Spare

As your kid outgrows everyday basics like books, clothing, and toys, have them brainstorm a list of organizations that could put those items to better use. Schools, libraries, hospitals, and shelters are great places to start.

Give the Gift of Time

Support your child in finding local volunteer opportunities that align with their skills and interests. Better yet, encourage them to start their own volunteer venture.

Write a Check

Help your child research local, national, and/or worldwide organizations that support a cause that they’re passionate about. Donate what you can, and encourage your kid to contribute to your gift if possible.

(Pro Tip: Re-current donations in your child’s name make for excellent holiday presents. Even if it’s five dollars a month for a year, it sends the message that giving back on a regular basis is the standard in your home.)

Engage Your Network

Social media fundraising has enormous potential for impact, and websites like Facebook and GoFundMe make it easy. Even if your kid doesn’t have a presence on the internet, they can still consult on fundraising goals and the causes you choose to support.

Express Gratitude

Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and it’s no small act of service to foster an environment where kindness is celebrated. Make it a habit to ask your child what (or who) they’re grateful for, and encourage them to write thank you notes.

Be a Friend

But you’re Takodians…you already knew that.