Volunteer Vacations Catching On - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Volunteer Vacations Catching On

Eric Kroll Eric Kroll
Joni Kroll Joni Kroll
Evan Kroll Evan Kroll

By Beth Hillyer

KAILUA (KHNL) -- It's a back to school ritual: sharing with your class what you did over your summer vacation.  Two students at Le Jardin Academy in Kailua have quite a story to tell. Instead of going to an amusement park or camping trip this summer, the Kroll family visited a poor, remote village in Mexico.

A new trend in summer vacations, families choose a community service project and assist residents of impoverished communities, even countries.  And you may be surprised how much kids get out of it.

The idea of taking volunteer vacations is catching on.

"Over my summer vacation me and my family went to Oaxaca, Mexico," explained Le Jardin 9th grader Eric Kroll. "We helped this community build a church and we also helped them build a school and housing for teachers. We'd go down to the river, take sand out of the river and hauled it up and we made cement and bricks out of it and we laid bricks for the walls of the church."

"We really wanted the kids to experience how great it is to give back and to appreciate the things they have in their lives, electricity, running water, plentiful food and education," said his mom Joni Kroll.

Even little brother Evan helped out.

"We were building a church because the other church they used to have the walls were collapsing in because they had a big earthquake," he said.

And despite the language barrier, they all made friends.

"Actually at the beginning, I thought it was going to be boring and just work, but I actually enjoyed playing basketball with them," said Evan Kroll.

Eric mentioned they brought six suitcases of donated items.

"We'd give away school supplies and toys and clothing for all the families," he siad. "I'm glad I went because the people are happy, always happy about just us being there."

There's another benefit, according to Joni Kroll.

"That kind of vacation brings your family together in a way that a surf vacation won't," she said.  "Sharing tortillas as your meal when you share and give of yourself emotionally and physically that brought us together as a family in a way a Disneyland trip never would."

"Yeah, it is a rewarding feeling because I actually enjoy it more to see other people happy than me happy," added Evan Kroll.

You don't need to travel to Mexico to participate in a volunteer vacation, there are all kinds of environmental opportunities and community service projects here in Hawaii with which you and your family can help.

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