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.
3. Serve meals through Meals on Wheels.
4. Collect toys for Toys for Tots.
5. Participate in a city cleanup/trash bash event.
Two of my daughters at Trinity Trash Bash in Fort Worth, Texas. September 15, 2018.
6. Clean up litter during a campout.
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.
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.
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!