09/10/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Voluntourism: Shape Your Child's Perspective

A family vacation can change a kid's view of the world. A family volunteering vacation can change the world. We travel to discover, to learn, and to grow--by traveling to give back, our kids can discover their place in the world, learn about other cultures, and grow into responsible, caring changemakers.

Habitat for Humanity: Global Village Program
Building a house on Habitat for Humanity International's Global Village trip takes volunteer families and partners them with other cultures in order to build their dream: a safe home. Families can stay close to home by helping in Biloxi, Mississippi or travel as far as Tajikistan. Families can choose their project, fill out an application, and choose to work as just a family or with an affiliated group, such as a church. Certain site projects are recommended for younger children, and youth programs exist for kids fourteen to twenty-five, which could be your child's first trip alone if the family trip is a successful one.

Global Citizens Network
Children can follow their parents' lead on grassroots projects around the world under the leadership of the community they are visiting. Enlightening work projects can include setting up a library in Peru or Arizona, or reforestation in a Thai village or in Nepal. Ages eight years old and up are preferable, and GCN recommends speaking to their staff if planning a trip with any child under twelve. GCN has success with children wanting to participate fully on the work project, and children cherish their host families and cultural exchange. Whether it's making tortillas or learning the local dance, all children involved open their hearts and arms during their shared project.

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