Summer. A time for picnics, baseball and swimming pools – a time to enjoy the wonders of nature. So why not enjoy the great outdoors while volunteering? During the summer, many organizations have outdoor opportunities for volunteers of all ages.

At the Dallas Arboretum near White Rock Lake, volunteers with green thumbs are invited to help care for the gardens. Volunteer gardeners arrive early in the morning to help the staff with weeding, planting and ‘dead-heading’ – pulling off the older blooms.

“Experience isn’t even necessary,” says Marilyn Stidham, volunteer coordinator. “Since you’re working with professional horticulturists, it’s a great way to learn about caring for plants.”

She says volunteers also can help water and prune plants in the greenhouses, and other volunteers provide tours of the gardens to visitors. The Arboretum offers the necessary training for ‘garden guides,’ making it an educational opportunity, as well.

Through Sept. 2, the Arboretum is hosting “Ultimate Treehouses,” a special exhibit of tree houses designed by Dallas’ top architects and artists. These works of art will be displayed throughout the gardens.

Volunteers are needed to give tours and help with children’s activities. Volunteers can help the children learn the importance of trees as habitats for animals, insects and plants.

Other volunteer opportunities are available at Ridgewood Park and Recreation Center. The center is hosting its own special event July 4 – a picnic for neighborhood residents. Volunteers are needed to serve refreshments and help with children’s activities.

John Grimes has been helping at the center since 1982, so he knows it’s a great place to be a volunteer. He spends almost every afternoon pitching in wherever he can, answering telephones, supervising the front desk, moving furniture and greeting kids.

“It’s something I enjoy doing because I like people,” Grimes says. “It gives me something to do besides watching television.”

Another opportunity for those who enjoy working with children is the Central Dallas Day Camp, hosted by Camp Fire Boys and Girls. The agency is coordinating recreational and educational day camps for 300 underprivileged children.

Volunteers are needed to organize camp activities and serve as counselors for children ages 6-12. Camp sessions are scheduled June 10-14 and June 24-28 in Cedar Hill.

The list doesn’t stop there – zoos, nature centers and many other places would love to help you make your summer plans. Call the Volunteer Center at 826-6767, and we’ll keep you busy.