When I became serious about staying within a budget, I realized that unfortunately I would have to cut back on donations to charity. By the time I paid for my basic needs, set aside 10% for savings, and pay a little extra on my credit cards each month, there’s only enough left for a few extras, and every month it feels like there’s another extra: textbooks, dentist visits, wedding presents. And I have to admit, I felt guilty about having enough for a weekly $2 beer out with friends, but nothing for the collection at church.


But, after much contemplation, I realized that while I don’t have money to contribute, I do have other things that organizations are often in need of: time and certain skills. When my friend invited me to volunteer with her for a free weekend-long science and nature camp for underprivileged elementary school kids, I knew I found a potentially great fit. Summer camp and a free afterschool science program were two of the biggest experiences in my childhood. Camp was so much fun and gave me a love for the outdoors, and that science program helped direct me to the career path I’m on.


I’ve spent the last few months helping a group of teens plan hands-on science activities and this weekend we finally got to see our plans in action. 80 kids came up and we did a little science, slept under the stars, made lanyards, played games, ate s’mores, and sang silly songs. I don’t know the last time I was that tired or washed that many dishes in the weekend, but man it was worth it. I’m so glad I said yes and can’t wait to do it again next year.


Does anybody else volunteer? If so, what other programs are out there?


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