American Heritage GIrls

40 Service Hour Ideas for Trailmen or Trail Life USA Troops

Community service projects and service hours can be a bit daunting as you begin to add them to your program for the young men.  However, like any great endeavor, the difficulties are far outweighed by the benefits!

Volunteering in general has positive effects ranging from building self-esteem, strengthening your community, and reducing stress to developing emotional intelligence and empathy.  From learning professional skills and civic responsibility to learning to work with a team.

Specific projects will also have additional benefits.  Having the young men take cards and treats to first responders can help Trailmen to understand that these are real people who sacrifice much for our communities.  Taking gifts to a nursing home can serve as a reminder that we aren’t immortal and that our elderly deserve much more than we sometimes give them.  Taking gifts to the homeless can serve as a reminder that having a warm home and food are big blessings.  You get the idea, right?

If none of that is reason enough, let’s consider possibly the best reason of all: community service is a great way to share the love of Christ in your community, and it can unlock doors for the gospel that were previously sealed tight.

Finally, I’d add that for a Trailman who is the Point of Contact (POC) and/or coordinating a service project can add multiple additional benefits!  These include developing leadership skills, building the courage to ask for things you need - such as fundraising for a project, gathering materials for a build, or running a food drive or supply drive, developing organizational skills, and many more.

Some of that sounds a lot like being a good steward of Creation, treating others as we want to be treated, character development, and guiding young men to lead with integrity and serve others.  Now if any of that seems familiar, it’s because I took it straight out of the Trailman Oath and the Trail Life USA Mission!

Isn’t it amazing to be part of an organization whose guiding principles and values give us plenty of reasons to do what is right before you even consider that through community service, Trailmen can also earn Service Stars and check a box on their Rank and Award requirements?!

With all that said, here are 40 ideas that you and your Trailmen can use to knock out those service hour requirements!  These are not ideas for Servant Leadership projects for the Freedom Award.  Those need to be much larger projects, and I hope to compile and share a list of ideas for those in the near future as well.

1. Pack Operation Christmas Child (OCC) boxes.   

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2.  Volunteer on a Habitat for Humanity project.  

3. Serve meals through Meals on Wheels.

4. Collect toys for Toys for Tots.   

5. Participate in a city cleanup/trash bash event.  

The few faces not blurred are my kids and me. Multi-Troop turnout for Trinity Trash Bash in Fort Worth, Texas. September 15, 2018.

The few faces not blurred are my kids and me. Multi-Troop turnout for Trinity Trash Bash in Fort Worth, Texas. September 15, 2018.

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Two of my daughters at Trinity Trash Bash in Fort Worth, Texas.  September 15, 2018.   

6.  Clean up litter during a campout. 

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7. Prepare and deliver hot chocolate to homeless people in your community on a cold day.  

8. Prepare meals for homeless people in your community.

9. Make cards for Veterans on Veteran’s Day.  

10. Make cards and deliver them to a nursing home at Christmas, then sing songs with residents while you’re there.  

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11. Organize a food drive for a local food pantry. 

12. Help lead a day camp. 

13.  Older Trailmen can help lead at VBS for younger kids. 

14. Place flags on graves on Memorial Day, or Veteran’s Day.  

15. Serve at a church Trunk-or-Treat. 

16. Volunteer at an animal shelter.

17. Adopt a Highway (or median or street or park, or whatever option is available in your community.)  Clean it frequently.   

18. Clean up a park. 

19. Send Christmas cards to a Troop stationer overseas.   

20.  Collect toiletries and cosmetics for a women’s shelter.  

21. Collect toiletries, socks and snacks, then make and deliver bags to homeless people in your community.  

22. Plant and grow extra fruits and vegetables in your garden, then deliver them to a food pantry when you harvest.   

23. Rake leaves or clean up a yard for elderly people in your neighborhood.   

 

24. Host a dog wash to raise money for a local animal shelter.

25.  Host a book drive to collect new and gently used books for a local homeless shelter or women’s shelter.

26. Help clean up after a community event, such as a firework show on the 4th of July.

27. Write thank you letters to Troop leaders (Trail Guides, Woodlands Ranger, Navigator Trailmaster, Adventurer Advisor, Troopmaster, Chaplain, Committee Members, etc.) thanking them for their time and mail or present them.

28. Check with your Charter Organization and/or Host Church (if they are different), to see if they need anything (plant trees, clean flower beds, change light bulbs, etc.)

29. Help fill plastic eggs for a church Easter Egg hunt.

30. Contact a local State Park or camp that your Troop has used to see if they need any help.  (Clean brush from hiking trails, clean trash, etc.)

31. Collect or make treats and cards to deliver to a police or fire station.  When we do this, my son (16) and oldest daughter (13) bake cookies, our middle daughter (7) decorates goodie bags (see below), all three make cards, then all three out cookies and a card in each goodie bag, which we then deliver.  Last fall, we toured five different fire stations and two police stations when we dropped in with treats.  It made a big impact on my kids.  

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32. Have a bottled water and Gatorade drive, then donate what you collect to local police and fire stations.   

What service hour ideas should I add to this list?  What other ways have your young men earned service hours?  Do you feel like any of these ideas should be removed from the list?  What else should I write about on my blog?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Also, if you are finding this blog useful, please consider checking out the different Trail Life USA coins that we offer in our store.  Fund from these coins allow me to keep this site online!  

Start of our 11th Year in Troop 98!

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This photo was taken back in August on the first day of our family’s 11th program year in Troop 98. 

Lots of things have changed in those eleven years. When we started, Kyle was a tiny Cub Scout, Megan was a little sister in a Tiger Den, Olivia wasn’t even born yet, and I didn’t yet know most of the people who are my closest friends today.

In eleven years, my wife and I have had two more amazing kiddos, our Troop has switched from BSA to Trail Life USA, Megan joined an American Heritage Girls Troop, then our Charter Org chartered our own American Heritage Girls Troop (also Troop 98), with my wife part of the founding Core Five, and then we changed our meeting location. Mercy, no wonder I’m tired!

On a personal note, I’ve gone from a scared parent in the back corner, to having served as COR for the past five years - although I’m still not a fan of being up front in any capacity!  I’ve massively expanded my comfort zone in the outdoors and my skill set.  

Troop 98 and Trail Life USA have both made a huge impact on Kyle, but then again, that’s what I was expecting on day one. That is the primary reason we joined Troop 98 eleven years ago.

What I didn’t expect was the impact on my own life! I’ve grown close to some of the best friends I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing.  These guys have challenged me to grow in every way and have helped me through life in ways I never knew I needed.  They’ve been there for me when I needed them, and they’ve built into my family.  

As a guy who lost most of his family early in life, they’ve filled some pretty big holes.  

I guess what I’m saying is that much has changed in eleven years, but I’m incredibly blessed to be able to say that!   

Thank you to Trail Life USA, Troop 98 and all of the amazing people that I’ve met through our family’s involvement!  I can’t even put into words what you all mean to me.

Lastly, I would add that if you have been considering joining a Trail Life USA Troop - DO IT! Don’t hesitate! Find a Troop and go join, NOW! You can use the Trail Life USA Troop Finder by clicking here! If you are already part of a Troop, and you think you’re only there for your son, with no intention of getting to know the other Troop dads or no intention of helping out in leadership - I highly recommend that you pray about adjusting your perspective. Jump in there, help out, get to know the other dads/families, build into the other Trailmen, find a way to contribute. I guarantee that when you look back on your involvement in a few years, there is no possible way that you will wish you had done less!

I have not had the time to devote to blogging the past few months as our family purchased ten acres in April, and we have been a bit overwhelmed by that. Things have begun to smooth out a little, and I hope to share lots of reasons you should consider joining and getting involved in the coming weeks and months! I hope you’ll read along!