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Congressional Award Discussion (questions, updates, etc)


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#51 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 05 February 2017 - 09:42 PM

We've only just registered but we've already hit a snag about volunteering - my son had wanted to volunteer with refugee/immigrant organizations in our city, but all have (suddenly) closed their doors to new volunteers because of the current political situation.

 

After building up the excitement and plans about that area of interest, and noting how experience with working to aid refugees and immigrants would prepare him for his future career, my son is having a hard time switching gears and thinking of something else to do!

 

There are lots of opportunities in our city. I'm sure he'll think of something, and have a chance to learn in grow in some totally other direction. But I am disappointed. This demographic has been very much on our hearts and minds for quite some time. (Our family can still support these organizations financially.)


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#52 Woodland Mist Academy

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Posted 05 February 2017 - 09:52 PM

What a disappointment! (in many, many ways...) 

 

Even though I'm sure something will eventually work out for him, it doesn't negate the letdown...

 

Please keep us posted!

 


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#53 LAR

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Posted 05 February 2017 - 10:33 PM

It is disheartening when you have yourself focused and on a strong path, only to have the rug pulled out from under you.  So sorry to read about your news.  Just keeping plugging forward.....good things will happen.


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#54 ldkgates

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 08:12 AM

My daughter is having a hard time getting volunteer hours. Age requirements have been an issue as well as lack of opportunities in our town. The conservation center will not allow volunteers under the age of 18. She filled out the background check information for the elementary school, and is good to go but no teachers have requested help. She is getting some hours through 4H. They have several small community service projects. Our next step is to try the library.
She is racking up hours in her personal development. She is working( volunteering) with a local dog trainer. She is learning a lot. The trainer now has her working with dogs on her own. Her E/E is all planned. She leaves March 23rd for Guatemala for Spanish immersion school.
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#55 LAR

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 10:56 PM

We're also trying the library and elementary schools.  It seems volunteer hours are one of the biggest hurdles for many younger students.  We did find a local group called "Mats for a Mission."  This group of volunteers crochets plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless. They meet every Saturday morning from 9 to 11 and welcome volunteers of any age. We're planning to give it a try this Saturday.  Not a ton of hours, but it's a start. Our daughter doesn't crochet, but the director said not to worry....just bring scissors!  I guess there's a ton of cutting involved. 

 

Idkgates, your daughter's EE trip sounds incredible! Good luck to her, and I look forward to hearing about it! 


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#56 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 02:42 PM

Update on my son - he's going to be volunteering with Boys and Girls Clubs of (our city), with a larger mission of helping inner city children grow in health, happiness, and education. (We are still figuring out how to say this well.) But we want the concept to be more open than "do XYZ with the Boys and Girls Club," so he'll be able to gain more hours through also helping with other organizations.


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#57 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 02:49 PM

We're also trying the library and elementary schools.  It seems volunteer hours are one of the biggest hurdles for many younger students.  We did find a local group called "Mats for a Mission."  This group of volunteers crochets plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless. They meet every Saturday morning from 9 to 11 and welcome volunteers of any age. We're planning to give it a try this Saturday.  Not a ton of hours, but it's a start. Our daughter doesn't crochet, but the director said not to worry....just bring scissors!  I guess there's a ton of cutting involved. 

 

Idkgates, your daughter's EE trip sounds incredible! Good luck to her, and I look forward to hearing about it! 

 

LAR, I wonder if this link has anything helpful, to add to Mats for a Mission for a greater goal:

 

http://pbskids.org/z...tion/way02.html


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#58 Penguin

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 02:49 PM

Hugs, Tibbie. :grouphug:

When we were living in Europe, my son and I spent many hours together volunteering at a refugee center. I had hoped to find some volunteer work here with refugees, but it has been difficult to source. 

 

DS is trying some different things with volunteer work. So far, the library is the big win. Oodles of available hours and time with same-age peers. He is meeting on Friday with the volunteer coordinator at the historical society. History is his passion, so I hope something can come of that.

 

:grouphug:  :grouphug: to those trying to line up volunteer hours. It is hard, I know. Have you looked at Volunteer Match? You can filter by "teen." The problem is that many of the opportunities are one-off opportunities.

 

https://www.volunteermatch.org/

 

How about Teen Court? If you have that in your area, I highly recommend it. All of my boys did it, and the upper age limit for volunteers in NC is 15. But that is because all 16 year olds are charged as adults in NC, your state might be different.

 

 


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#59 LAR

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 10:04 PM

Tibbie, thank you for the link!  Our daughter found a couple great ideas and is working out a new plan.  I appreciate you sharing.


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#60 mirabillis

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 10:42 PM

nvm


Edited by mirabillis, 11 April 2017 - 06:41 PM.

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#61 Woodland Mist Academy

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 10:03 AM

The assisting seems more like personal development or volunteering to me. Playing baseball for fitness, sure. Assisting is a more grey area to me. Might be a good idea to double-check with his coordinator.

 

In regards to the wording... I would suggest he ask the person who validates his physical fitness hours. What are your son's goals? Maybe he could write down a couple different ways he would like to phrase the goals and run them by his validator or advisor. Or if he has trouble thinking of goals, he could ask for their suggestions. The CA support team of validators and advisor can be a wealth of insight and information.

 

Good luck!


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#62 mirabillis

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 04:40 PM

 The CA support team of validators and advisor can be a wealth of insight and information.

 

Good luck!

 

where do I find them? 


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#63 Penguin

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 05:03 PM

where do I find them? 

 Not WMA, but I think she means have your child talk to the validators (e.g., the baseball coach) and advisor. They can help with goal formation. Would there be a specific average or RBI to shoot for?

 

I agree that the time spent helping with the younger team fits personal development or service better.


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#64 mirabillis

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 05:07 PM

Got it. :) Probably just let that be for 'free' then. hahaha! See, I don't feel the validators or advisors know any better than me. It's not like they get a different how-to be an advisor/validator handbook than we get, kwim? I feel we are leading them... 


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#65 Woodland Mist Academy

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 08:38 PM

Got it. :) Probably just let that be for 'free' then. hahaha! See, I don't feel the validators or advisors know any better than me. It's not like they get a different how-to be an advisor/validator handbook than we get, kwim? I feel we are leading them... 

 

Understandable. I meant more in regards to the goal for whatever activity your son is doing. So although I might know more about the Congressional Award in general, especially in the beginning, the validators know more about the activity they are validating and can help make realistic, but reaching goals. (Challenging, but achievable.) Some goals my daughter writes on her own and then discusses with validators and advisor. Others she asks for input while choosing the goals. 

 

In your current example, I'm not sure you even need the Malcolm Gladwell part. Also, I think the guidelines for the goals state they can't be competitive in nature, so being one of the top players wouldn't fit the guidelines. As Penguin mentioned, choosing a specific average or RBI would be a good discussion to have with the coach/ validator and would be a specific, measurable goal that isn't competing with anyone but himself.

 

Disclaimer: I might be mistaken. Again.  :tongue_smilie:   These are just my thoughts from my reading and personal experiences. Nothing official, so keep your salt shaker handy.  ;)  


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#66 LAR

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 10:07 PM

I also feel that each goal needs to be quantifiable. From what I've read and researched, you need to list a specific goal  - something attainable but challenging. 


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#67 mirabillis

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 10:15 PM

Great advice, ladies. Thank you. I do think you have to take much with a grain of salt, but it's muchly left up to the individual (and mom/dad) to help navigate the course. Advisors & validators are great only in-so-much-as they are invested. And it's not like they give a guidebook to them to tell them what to do. They're not exactly 'experts' in Congressional Medal goals. KWIM? 


Edited by mirabillis, 11 April 2017 - 06:41 PM.

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#68 Vida Winter

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 03:15 PM

We signed up and then dropped the ball with my dd16 -- but we're looking into starting up again.


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#69 Penguin

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Posted 18 February 2017 - 04:16 PM

We signed up and then dropped the ball with my dd16 -- but we're looking into starting up again.

We get focused here on what level our kids hit in time for college applications, but let's not forget that the kid has until the 24th birthday to complete the program.

Edited by Penguin, 18 February 2017 - 04:18 PM.

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#70 Vida Winter

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 11:55 AM

What did some of you do for physical fitness?
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#71 mirabillis

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 11:58 AM

nvm


Edited by mirabillis, 11 April 2017 - 06:42 PM.

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#72 LAR

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 12:14 PM

DD is performing a dance solo in June and she wants to add a backflip to the routine.  So she's been working on this as part of her physical fitness goal.  But it's not going well! Not sure she's going to be able to do it.  We need to reevaluate and make a decision soon.


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#73 LAR

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 12:20 PM

On a more positive note, DD gave a presentation at the ASL club this past week.  She signed a story to the group and did really well.   She's now working on learning to sign the National Anthem.  She needs it mastered by April 2 when she performs in Tampa.  Clocks ticking!  These hours are put toward her personal development goals.

 

She also found out this week that the library accepts volunteers at 14 year sold, so we'll be working on the application sometime this weekend.

 

Not major progress on our end - just pecking away.


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#74 mirabillis

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 04:04 PM

nvm


Edited by mirabillis, 11 April 2017 - 06:42 PM.

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#75 mirabillis

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 05:17 PM

I just wanted to add how much we are LOVING participating in the Congressional Award program. When I first heard about it here on these boards last fall, I was intrigued. I researched & researched and really had my eye on it. My dh thought I was crazy. Then I got my son an advisor, registered, and the rest is history. Yesterday after dragging his feet about going to the library to volunteer, I picked him up and he promptly told me - I love volunteering at the library! And all this was made possible for us b/c of the Congressional Award. Without it, we wouldn't have our eye on such things (I don't think in our busy schedule I'd be actively seeking out volunteer ops for him). He's also participating in MUN this year and helping out the middle school MUN as a mentor, maybe emceeing at the conference, and all this come about b/c of the Award. It's been a huge entity in our house just these short 2 months we've begun. But it's as just as wonderful as I envisioned it would be, to propel my ds to do things he might not otherwise do.


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#76 Woodland Mist Academy

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 06:13 PM

What did some of you do for physical fitness?

 

 

My daughter has a specific goal that she is working on, but she includes cross-training for the fitness hours. Many (most?) goals in fitness are supported by a variety of activities, so think broadly when counting hours. In her write-up, my daughter makes sure to mention the support the cross-training gives to her goal. Realistically, if she didn't do the cross-training, she would, in the end, be less fit and healthy. (And more susceptible to injury.) I would probably go so far as to say achieving her goal would be less likely or at least more difficult. 

 

Strength training

Yoga/stretching

Cardio

 

Within each of these areas there are myriad possibilities. 

 

Lots and lots of activities can sometimes be used to support even a narrow, specific goal. 


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#77 Penguin

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 09:56 AM

My son's fitness hours come from a sport (Goal 1) and fitness walking/hiking (Goal 2).

Goal 1 was swimming when we lived overseas, but he has shifted to fencing.

ETA: I am always trying to figure out the best bucket for everything. Credit? Or Extracurricular? Congressional Award: Yay or nay? For example, he is working on a SCUBA certification. We decided to use the hours towards his PE credit. It probably will not be continuous enough for an award goal, kwim? If he does more diving after certification hours, that will be extracurricular.

Edited by Penguin, 27 February 2017 - 10:01 AM.

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#78 Vida Winter

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 10:33 AM

The fitness has me wondering because we have cold winters and hot summers. Outdoor sports vary widely! We ski but then the season can suddenly be over. Cross training is an excellent idea. Thanks, Woodland!
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#79 Woodland Mist Academy

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 12:08 PM

ETA: I am always trying to figure out the best bucket for everything. Credit? Or Extracurricular? Congressional Award: Yay or nay? For example, he is working on a SCUBA certification. We decided to use the hours towards his PE credit. It probably will not be continuous enough for an award goal, kwim? If he does more diving after certification hours, that will be extracurricular.

 

Same here. So many things could go into multiple buckets, thus the mind-boggling number of spreadsheets to avoid accidental double-dipping.

 

We have overflow buckets in place. As soon as the hours reach the max allowed in a certain time-frame for the Congressional Award, the hours spill over into an elective bucket. 


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#80 Vida Winter

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 12:30 PM

Goal setting question-- is it a requirement that the goal be met or only that measurable progress has been made? Particularly in the phys fitness area it's hard to tell how high to aim. It makes a good case for doing this level by level.
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#81 Vida Winter

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 12:30 PM

dbl post

Edited by Vida Winter, 27 February 2017 - 12:31 PM.


#82 Woodland Mist Academy

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 12:48 PM

My daughter has submitted paperwork with the required number of hours for a level, but without having reached her goal.  In her paperwork, she mentioned what progress she had made toward her goal and what changes she needed to make as she continued to work toward reaching her goal. She was approved for the level and nothing was mentioned about not having met the goal. 


Edited by Woodland Mist Academy, 27 February 2017 - 09:39 PM.

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#83 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 01:14 PM

Update on my son and the volunteering requirement:

 

It looks like his focus will be inner-city youth -- he's going to be working with the Boys and Girls Club of our city, and with a local Core Knowledge charter school.

 

So I'm glad that these opportunities are nearly arranged, but they are only for the school year; we'll need to find something for the summer, when he is more available to work more hours. I don't really want him to volunteer with YMCA for camps, but so far I can't think of anything else.


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#84 Penguin

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 01:49 PM

Thank you, Congressional Award! I am writing a school profile for my son's DE enrollment application. As part of the homeschool philosophy section, I wanted to point out that, while striving for academic excellence, we have a holistic approach to learning. Highlighting participation in the CA made it easier to summarize what I was trying to say.

 

 

 

 


Edited by Penguin, 28 February 2017 - 01:49 PM.

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#85 LAR

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 02:23 PM

Do you think that a volunteer project could be collecting roadside trash? We're desperate!  Driving back from art class this morning, I noticed an "Adopt a Road" sign.  I'm not sure if our daughter would be interested in collecting trash during Florida's summers, but I'm not ruling anything out at this point!


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#86 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 03:38 PM

Do you think that a volunteer project could be collecting roadside trash? We're desperate!  Driving back from art class this morning, I noticed an "Adopt a Road" sign.  I'm not sure if our daughter would be interested in collecting trash during Florida's summers, but I'm not ruling anything out at this point!

 

Maybe look for something larger as the goal, toward helping the environment, and then I don't see why adopting a section of highway couldn't be a terrific activity! We have an organization here called "Keep (Our City) Beautiful." If you have something like that, even in the nearest city or urban center, maybe you can affiliate with them. There might be people already available to help locate more tasks, and serve as validators.


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#87 OhioMomof3

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 04:29 PM

Our local park system will let students younger than 16 volunteer with adult supervision. Maybe a park system near you offers the same opportunity. This, in addition to roadside clean up, could fit with an environmental-focused goal.
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#88 Meriwether

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 07:08 PM

Update on my son and the volunteering requirement:

 

It looks like his focus will be inner-city youth -- he's going to be working with the Boys and Girls Club of our city, and with a local Core Knowledge charter school.

 

So I'm glad that these opportunities are nearly arranged, but they are only for the school year; we'll need to find something for the summer, when he is more available to work more hours. I don't really want him to volunteer with YMCA for camps, but so far I can't think of anything else.

The school might have a summer program for kids who are struggling. 


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#89 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 07:17 PM

The school might have a summer program for kids who are struggling. 

 

Thanks, I hadn't thought of that! You're probably right.

 

Since I posted above, I found an inner-city community center that runs an educational day camps in the summer. It's only ten minutes from here, so that would be very convenient. I'm going to give them a call tomorrow!


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#90 mirabillis

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 08:44 PM

My daughter has submitted paperwork with the required number of hours for a level, but without having reached her goal.  In her paperwork, she mentioned what progress she had made toward her goal and what changes she needed to make as she continued to work toward reaching her goal. She was approved for the level and nothing was mentioned about not having met the goal. 

 

Good to know. I was wondering the same. We want to make a measurable goal, but not sure what in reality we can attain.


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#91 mirabillis

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 08:51 PM

nvm


Edited by mirabillis, 11 April 2017 - 06:43 PM.


#92 LAR

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 12:33 PM

MIrabillis, I'm wondering how to write up a goal for library volunteer hours.   Does your son have something in mind that he wants to achieve while earning these library hours?

 

If our daughter decides to start volunteering at the library, she mentioned that she'd like to offer ASL classes (free) at the library.  Our library offers so many free day and evening programs that this may be possible. She felt she'd have to show the staff she's committed to the library and its programs, before suggesting that she offer a class.



#93 mirabillis

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 11:38 PM

So here are examples of volunteer service goals I've culled from Congressional Award samples. (I feel they make it difficult to write these goals - not a whole lot of guidance, but I digress...)

 

I want to create a better world for abandoned pets, so I will volunteer for X hours at the Humane Association
---------------------------------------------------

Goal: I will dedicate at least 5 hours a week to the Best Buddies chapter at WMU. My service will create one-on-one friendships and opportunities for people with intellectual and development disabilities.

Activities: I went to friendship visits twice a week, interacting with Best Buddies and their peers. I volunteered at the Best Buddies leadership and integrated employment fairs on and off campus.

----------------------------------

“I will provide a minimum of 100 hours of service under the direction of the Volunteer Office of Central Florida.”

-----------------------------------------------------

GOAL: I am going to dedicate four hours a week under the direction of St. Vincent de Paul, Inc.

ACTIVITY: I will work in the clothing distribution center and the soup kitchen.

----------------------------------------------------

GOAL: My goal is to learn more about the medical field while simultaneously serving the ill and injured in my community. I will volunteer weekly at St. Joseph's General Hospital.

ACTIVITY: I worked closely with ill children in the pediatric ward. I assisted physicians with schedules and read to children during their organized activity time. I also organized and monitored the medical supply inventory, answered phone calls, and maintained cleanliness and sterility.

 
 
 
And this is our library goal idea. 
  1. As an avid reader and frequent library goer, I will dedicate up to 5 hours per week to the library to give back to an institution which has given so much to me.

 

Need it say more?

 


Edited by mirabillis, 11 April 2017 - 06:43 PM.

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#94 LAR

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Posted 08 March 2017 - 10:21 PM

No, Mirabillis, I don't feel you need to add anything else to this goal.  It sounds great - direct and pointed.  I think your wording covers all basis.

 

Thanks for putting together the list of goals and activities.  We're struggling with our verbiage, so these examples are a huge help.



#95 mirabillis

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Posted 08 March 2017 - 10:23 PM

Aw thanks! :-) Don't you feel they give so little input and insight into what makes a sufficient goal? My hope is we here on the boards can be unofficial 'advisors' and help each other word our goals well. We too are struggling with our verbiage as well. That's why I put together as many real examples I could find online and keep them in a Google doc file for reference. I have Personal Dev/Physical Fitness examples if you need those too.


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#96 mirabillis

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Posted 10 March 2017 - 12:16 AM

nvm


Edited by mirabillis, 11 April 2017 - 06:44 PM.


#97 Woodland Mist Academy

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Posted 10 March 2017 - 12:40 PM

To be sure I'm understanding correctly, do you mean golf will be one Personal Development goal and Model UN & Mock Trial will be the other Personal Development Goal?

 

Or is golf another Fitness goal in addition to baseball? And the Personal Development goals are Mock Trial and Model UN? 

 

I just want to make sure I understand correctly. 


Edited by Woodland Mist Academy, 10 March 2017 - 12:41 PM.


#98 mirabillis

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Posted 10 March 2017 - 05:38 PM

nvm


Edited by mirabillis, 11 April 2017 - 06:44 PM.

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#99 ChrisB

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Posted 24 March 2017 - 04:38 PM

x post from a thread I started in the General forum...

 

DD12 is thinking about earning the gold medal Congressional Award for students.  Does anyone have experience with this program?  Has it been a benefit for college apps and jobs?  Thoughts?

 

She already volunteers a boatload, and will continue to do so, at an outdoors educational center that is free to the community, so I have no doubt she'd easily be able to accomplish this requirement.  The other requirements are in personal development, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration.  Physical fitness may be difficult, but I'm more confident about the personal development and expedition/exploration areas.  She's also organized and loves to plan.

 

DD also has the opportunity to complete the Stars & Stripes award (think Eagle Scout) through American Heritage Girls.  What do you think about not completing the Stars & Stripes and focusing on the congressional award instead?  (Although many requirements overlap.)  Pros/Cons?  Are they considered about equal? Or would the congressional award be more prestigious?  Again, I'm thinking along the lines of benefits for college apps and jobs, and personal fulfillment.  School me, please.  The congressional award seems to line up more with her interests.

 

ETA:  I realize most here have some experience with it, so some questions may be redundant.  She will apply next winter/spring at 13 1/2 yrs. old.


Edited by ChrisB, 24 March 2017 - 04:44 PM.

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#100 Jewels

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Posted 24 March 2017 - 05:58 PM

My dd13 just met with her advisor for the first time. She turns 14 in May but now with an advisor, she can officially register:) My dd has already filled out volunteer applications ready to be turned in on her bday! She's thrilled👍🏻

Edited by Jewels, 24 March 2017 - 07:22 PM.

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