Forty teenagers in Maricopa are volunteering to become “future leaders” in the community.
Zachary Schroeder, 13, is one of them. He and his friend, 14-year-old Morgan Godfrey, attended orientation of the Future Leaders Teen Summer Volunteer Program Wednesday at Copper Sky.
However, the experience isn’t entirely new for them.
Both teens volunteered in the city-run program last year and assisted aides in the city’s Summer Fun & Fitness Camps – which cater to young children between 5 and 12 years old.
Schroeder and Godfrey said it was an opportunity to socialize and gain volunteer hours, but most important to them was their time spent with the kids.
Recreation Coordinator Heather Lozano said the teens mean a lot to the campers too.
“It gives them somebody to look up to. It gives them a mentor,” Lozano said.
Before Schroeder was a future leader volunteer, he himself was a camper. His mother, Jennifer, said she has seen her son take on more volunteer and leadership opportunities since his first experience with the program.
She said it also helps prepare young teens for the real world.
“There are not a lot of opportunities for kids this age to be able to get out there to learn what it’s like to work,” Jennifer Schroeder said. “So this gives them a chance to get out there and do a job and see what it’s like to be responsible and become a leader.”
Teens volunteer at four camp locations around the city for six weeks: two at Copper Sky, one at Maricopa Elementary School and another at Saddleback Elementary School.
The camps run Monday through Friday for four hours per day.
Lozano said this is the biggest group of volunteers she has had in the program and added she may have to expand it next year.
Teens who complete the program receive a letter of recommendation from Lozano, which includes the number of hours volunteered.
It’s an opportunity for the teens looking to build their resume, Lozano explained, as well as the possibility of future employment.
“I have actually hired staff from future leaders,” Lozano said.
Camp begins for volunteers and campers June 5.