Newest Review: ... outdoor ball games. The kids loved doing the pipe cleaner models, making animals, names and jewellery and so highly recommend for any vo... more
Tougher than it looks
My Experiences and Advice
Member Name: monk13i
My Experiences and Advice
Date: 09/05/02, updated on 09/05/02 (43 review reads)
Advantages: good learning experience, useful for a cv
Disadvantages: time consuming
This category is here for people to share their experience and advice about organising some aspect of volunteering. Tonight was my first time in charge of the kid’s project I volunteer with at university and although it was hard work first time round I had a good time. A girl called Rachel usually runs the project, she organises everything every week and it is her job I did tonight. How did I end up running it then?
To ease the load slightly and provide a bit of insurance if Rachel was ever ill, we (the volunteers) received an e-mail asking if we were interested in becoming a deputy project leader. I replied and as far as I know no-one else wanted the job so I got it. I was told soon after getting the job (I should really say position, job implies work in exchange for money, whereas I don’t get paid) that Rachel wasn’t able to make the last session before we break up for exams and summer so I would be in charge. This is when my heart skipped a beat, I’d had only two sessions to watch carefully what went on and what forms needed filling in for any eventuality.
So the “challenge” was set, I had to organise everything for a 3hr session with 14 kids and something for the 8 volunteers (including me) to do with them. As their attention spans are only short I planned 3 different things for the kids to do in rotation (tried and tested method). Out of interest there were chalk drawings, pipe cleaner models and outdoor ball games. The kids loved doing the pipe cleaner models, making animals, names and jewellery and so highly recommend for any volunteers out there reading this.
The amount of planning that needs to go into one 3-hour session was the first thing that surprised me. It took me a long time to decide what we were going to do and then all the things that need to be followed up took even longer. I needed to contact all the other volunteers, get a shopping list of the things I would need and talk to Rache
l about what other things needed doing to name a few.
I showed up at 2:00pm that gave me 3 hrs to sort out the things I needed before the volunteers started showing up. This sounds like quite a long time but it flew. Making demonstration samples for each of the activities was my first task; this took me a long time. I had to find all of the stuff to use and then call into power my barely existent art skills. I would have been much more comfortable with a test tube and a lab full of chemicals than with a simple set of scissors and coloured paper I can tell you.
I eventually managed to conjure up something resembling sample pieces for each of the activities and then I organised the different trays that would be taken to the hall type thing (Its actually an underground club, basically a big open space with tables and chairs) where we do the activities. I looked up and it was 5:00pm.
So how did it all go then?
I knew things weren’t going to be easy when the first kid through the door ran into the middle of the room, tripped and cut his finger. We’re not allowed to even put on a plaster unless we are trained first aiders (a bit stupid to me) and so it was a trip up to the first aider before things even got going. Things got messy as usual (lots of cleaning involved at the end) and there was one more trip to deal with. Overall things ran smoothly.
Did you enjoy it?
Yes I did, I can’t say yet that I would be comfortable doing this every week yet, although I’m sure I would do a much better job next time.
So what did you learn, any pearls of wisdom?
I have learnt a lot from today, I hope someone reading this might be able to benefit from these:
1.) Give yourself time to do things.
There is no-way I would have been able to sort out this activity in one day. It is essential that you start thinking early about what needs to be done and who needs to know what. Try and run th
rough the event in your mind and imagine what you’ll need for each stage, this I found helps a lot.
2.) Don’t think too rigid or stick too firmly to a plan.
I had planned a rotation schedule for kids that would have left them with 30 minutes on each activity. Although I think tonight I was a bit lax in how things ran (and will try and be a bit more structured next time), if I would have insisted that everything was run exactly by my plan the kids wouldn’t have enjoyed themselves. As it turned out more people wanted to make pipe cleaner models more than do chalk drawings and people wanted to play outside at different times to when they should have been. The project is run for kids and so I had to make my plans adapt to them (within reason) to benefit them the most. Although this applies more so to projects including kids this is useful advice for anything.
3.) Thank Volunteers
This one is obvious, people are generously giving up their free time to help other people. They don’t have to do this and a thank you is the best way of showing appreciation for what they do. Always say thank you.
4.) Have bin bags handy
Anything with kids is going to cause rubbish, it’s just the way things are and so these are vital. I forget this vital piece of kit but will defiantly remember next time. But its not just kids that make mess, for the space a bin bag takes up I think they are worth having around all the time.
That’s it, I don’t know when or even if I’ll get to run my project again but I’ve defiantly benefited from the experience of doing so. If you can afford the time and are offered the opportunity of doing something like this, I highly recommend it. Just don’t forget my 4 quite obvious pearls of wisdom.