Volunteering is a great way to give back to causes and organizations in which you truly believe. Throughout my life, I’ve given many rewarding hours to church, national parks, state parks, and campus organizations. In some cases, my volunteer time paid off- literally. I’ve gotten scholarships, monetary awards, and even job offers through volunteer work.
So how can you, as a tourist, reap rewards through volunteering?
Try voluntourism, or volunteer tourism. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of volunteering during vacation, whether it be a serving meals to the poor while on a church-sponsored mission trip or rebuilding a section of the Appalachian Trail.
Here are a couple organizations for which I’d like to volunteer:
Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation – Commit to volunteering in Medora, ND, the picturesque wild west town serving as the gateway to the rugged, yet serene Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Volunteers can sign up for a variety of tasks including working backstage at the Medora Musical or assisting at the Pitchfork Steak Fondue meals. Volunteer stints differ in length; housing and meals are complimentary for volunteers. You must complete a volunteer application and provide your own transportation.
American Hiking Society – This group vigilantly works to protect some of America’s best hiking trails. They offer volunteer opportunities throughout the US, often centered around restoring part of a decrepit trail. Visit their website to search by state for openings. Here’s a great opportunity for someone wanting to visit the Ozarks in Arkansas: Work to create a new hiking trail along the Buffalo National River for six days. In return, you’ll be given a free campsite and use of a National Park Service canoe for leisure. Each volunteer vacation through the American Hiking Society differs in length, location, and amenities provided. In most cases, you’ll need to provide your own transportation.
© Jessica Leigh Rosier 2012