3 Reasons To Take A Volunteer Vacation

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Each year, the American Hiking Society organizes week-long Volunteer Vacations where small crews help maintain trails on public lands throughout the United States. In 2012, crews built, maintained or re-vegetated more than 310 miles of trail, which was worth $436,598 in sweat equity, according to AHS.

Attracting people of all ages, these trips often involve hiking and backpacking, and crews either camp in the backcountry or sleep in cabins. While crewmembers put in plenty of work, they also have time to relax and enjoy the surroundings. For many people, Volunteer Vacations offer a way to explore new places, meet great people and feel the satisfaction of giving back.

Registration for the 2014 Volunteer Vacation season has recently opened, so we asked Libby Wile, director of volunteer programs for AHS, to share her top reasons that people should join one of the trips.

1. You’ll Have Fun and Also Feel Proud

“On a Volunteer Vacation you have the rest and relaxation you look forward to on vacation, while also feeling like you contributed your time and effort to something worthwhile,” says Wile. You’ll have a sense of pride and accomplishment as you’re doing important work to maintain trails, but each day there’s time to enjoy outdoor activities, and many nights are spent hanging out around the campfire. You can choose a trip where you hike long distances and camp in the backcountry, or a less intense trip where you work on trails during the day and stay in a cabin at night. To help you choose a trip that suits your abilities, AHS has labeled each trip from Easy to Strenuous.

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2. It’s A Chance to Meet Other Like-minded People

Many AHS Volunteer Vacation participants are single or traveling without friends or a companion, says Wile. With some people, their friends don’t necessarily like to go hiking or backpacking. “This is a great way to go on an adventure with other people interested in the same types of outdoor activities you like,” says Wile.

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3.  See A New Place Without the Hassle of Logistics

It can be intimidating to set out to explore a wilderness you’ve never visited, especially if you’re not experienced in planning such a trip. With AHS Volunteer Vacations, all of the logistics are planned for you, Wile says. Plus, outings aren’t really expensive. The cost is $230 for AHS members and $270 for non-members, and that gets you all the food for the week, accommodations and permits. Another advantage of these trips is that leaders can give you inside info on places to explore in the area where you’re working. “These people are excited to share their knowledge,” says Wile, adding that people often add extra days to the end of a Volunteer Vacation, and then check out places that trip guides have recommended.

 

For information on AHS Volunteer Vacations call 800-972-8608 ext. 206, email [email protected], or visit www.americanhiking.org.

Photos courtesy of American Hiking Society

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