Sue22- I would suggest you go back and reread post #1010 (the post obscuredfacts responded to). For you convenience, I will repost the relevant pieces of information:
"I've always been super impressed by applicants who've taken the time to volunteer abroad and made a real, demonstrable impact overseas."
There's an AND in my statement that you and obscuredfacts missed. From what you wrote, your son didn't make a real, demonstrable impact. As such, I' wouldn't expect anyone to be impressed by it and I certainly wouldn't advocate for that kind of placement.
Also, I don't think you can use your son's scuba diving trip to Fiji, which is an island resort and one of the most economically developed countries in the South Pacific as an argument against volunteering abroad. Of course that doesn't compare to volunteering for years in a food pantry. I never said short-term, unimpactful volunteering abroad trips were substitutes for long-term volunteering commitments at home. In fact, I clearly state in post #1010: "A one-off volunteer abroad trip with no other supporting activities that doesn't tie into your overall story probably won't do much for you (in my opinion at least)."
I also never once mentioned anything about deluxe service trips. I'm talking about real volunteer trips abroad where volunteers do real work, not a scuba diving program in an island paradise. Furthermore, I highly doubt adcoms would view spending a few days painting a school here in the States to be any more impressive. Speaking of which, couldn't we also hire locals here in the States to paint schools (as you recommend doing overseas)... perhaps people in need such as the very people who have been frequenting your wealthy town's food pantry?