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Skip-Gen Voluntourism: Closer to Home

By Cynthia Hogg May 03, 2024 Family

I previously wrote about some of the drawbacks to voluntourism if not done responsibly and recommended some of the better skip-gen opportunities for international voluntourism.

But not everyone has the time, money, or inclination for international travel. If you are leaving home with grandkids in tow and including any kind of volunteering along the way, your trip qualifies as voluntourism. You don’t have to go far from home. Just outside our own doorsteps are a myriad of skip-gen travel opportunities where you can help make the world a better place while still having fun. Here are just a few ideas:

Give Kids the World

Give Kids the World is an 89-acre non-profit resort in central Florida, near Orlando. It’s designed to give children with life-threatening or critical illnesses an all-expenses-paid weeklong vacation, along with their families. About half of “Make-A-Wish” recipients elect to come here, and for good reason. Everything is handicap-accessible and like stepping into a fairytale.

Each family stays in a “villa” and in addition to accommodations and all meals, they receive complimentary tickets to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld Orlando. On-site activities include a carousel, a princess and pirate party, a game night featuring the world’s largest Candy Land board and pieces, and a pool party.

Every Monday is “Halloween,” with costumes and trick-or-treating and every Thursday is a winter holiday complete with “snow” and a traditional Christmas dinner and presents.

So Where Do You Come In?

There are more than 1500 volunteer shifts that need to be filled every week, everything from scooping ice cream to helping with pony rides. For more information, visit or call 1-800-995-KIDS.


Provides an inexpensive volunteering opportunity, especially if you are already planning a trip with your grandchild to any or all of the attractions in the Orlando area. According to those who have participated, it is great fun.


Not available to all ages as children must be 12 years old to volunteer; ages 12-15 must be accompanied by an adult on their shift. (Can be a grandparent!)

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah

This 300-acre no-kill pet sanctuary in southern Utah is the largest in the country for companion animals and accepts volunteers to help feed, groom, exercise, and socialize with the animals, as well as keep their areas clean – so lots of areas for volunteering.

Age Requirements

They have the following minimum age requirements:

  • Bunny House and Parrot Garden – 8
  • Cat World – 9
  • Dogtown, Piggy Paradise, and Horse Haven – 16
  • Wild Friends, Angel’s rest, Animal Clinic, and Landscaping – 18

They provide accommodation (for a fee) about 5 miles from the sanctuary ,and you will need your own car to get around because the animals are spread over a large area. There are two volunteer shifts each day (8:15-11:30am and 1:15-4:00pm). Children must be supervised by an adult during their shift, but one adult can supervise up to 2 children in the same animal area.


In addition to all the time spent loving on the animals, the location of Kanab is within striking distance of some of the most unique and spectacular scenery the western US has to offer: Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Lake Powell, and the north rim of the Grand Canyon.


The shifts tend to fill up early, so you will need to plan ahead, maybe as much as a year in advance. You are on your own for meals. **This may or may not be a con: they also have animals to adopt!

Habitat for Humanity

Traveling with an older (16+) child? Check with the local Habitat for Humanity at your intended destination to see if they have any projects you could join. This could be a wonderful bonding experience for you and your grandchild, one in which you can see immediate, positive results from your efforts.


Don’t live near Utah or Florida? Not handy with a hammer? Don’t live in the US at all? Doesn’t matter where you live – the US, Canada, the UK, Eastern Europe, South America, Africa, Australia – there are always places looking for volunteers. Figure out a mutual interest with your grandchild and work it into a memorable skip-gen trip. The possibilities are endless.

At the very simplest, pack plastic gloves and garbage bags and take a bit of time to pick up trash wherever you visit. Many, many beaches have clean-up days, some of them regularly scheduled, which makes it easier to plan a trip around. These websites can be helpful:

Ocean Conservancy

World Ocean Day

Surfrider Foundation

Happy voluntouring-teaming with your grandchild!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you taken your grandchild to volunteer program somewhere in your country? What was the experience like? Are there any local organizations that might need your help?

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Great read! Didn’t know about all the different opportunities. Thanks

The Author

Cynthia Hogg is a freelance writer in western Michigan who contributes regularly to Sixty and Me and Senior Perspectives magazine. She loves to travel and spend time with her grandchildren, especially combining the two. She is the editor of the newly updated blog

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