Waves, sunshine and sandy beaches. It’s what the Caribbean is all about, and something both kids and volunteers can experience twice a month for beach day with the Orphanage Student Organization.
But like anytime when kids are involved, there are some rules and guidelines you want to familiarize yourself with before grabbing your sandals and sunscreen.
Probably the biggest advice is to make sure your stern with the children, but not in a way that would be considered abusive. That means giving them direct eye contact and an authoritative voice if they get out of hand. If being stern doesn’t work, reach out to one of the OSO organizers, and they will handle it from there.
You can pick up and even hug children, but remember to maintain boundaries. If kids start going overboard with such affection, simply tell them it’s inappropriate. Also, while you might let the kids know you don’t mind holding or hugging them, they cannot expect this when they go back to their respective homes.
Also, you don’t have to hold or hug a child simply because they ask. While they might love attention, they also need to learn to be independent as well.
For beach days, it is OK to take photos, but always try to limit the association with their names to their photos if used publicly. Also, since they are not tourist attractions, it’s always good to respect the children by asking first if they would like to have their photo taken. And remember: always respect their wishes.
Safety is key, so make are that all children have life jackets on at all times. There are some exceptions to this, like older teenagers or those with staff supervision. But if you’re not sure, ask someone in charge.
When you’re assigned to an area, be sure to keep the entire area in eye’s view. If kids would like to jog or run with you, notify one of the OSO officers, who will get permission first.
And while this is the beach, and you want to catch some rays, remember to wear appropriate clothing. That means no super-revealing bathing suits. If you wouldn’t wear it in front of your sweet grandmother, you don’t want to wear it in front of the kids, either. At the same time, if you bring your better half with you, please avoid any flirting, cuddling, kissing, or even hand-holding. Some children have backgrounds that could become exacerbated by seeing this, so please think of the kids first.
Of course, if you see anything suspicious or strange on the beach, tell an OSO officer immediately.
When it’s time for lunch and everyone has cleaned up, all the children need to be sitting and say grace before they can eat or drink. Also, if the children want seconds, they need to be sitting down when asking.
Of course, thanks for devoting your time to this worthy cause, one that the SOO organization is proud to work with the OSOs to make great!
To learn more about what the OSO does for Grenada, click here.