Voluntourism and You!

Jun 06, 2018
Want to help out in the places you spend your vacation in? Look no further than voluntourism!

By Jana Hemphill

When you go on vacation, do you wish you could do more for your vacation spot? If you live in a vacation spot (like Central Oregon), do you wish tourists could do more to keep your area beautiful? There’s a simple answer--voluntourism!

Voluntourism is the concept of volunteering while you’re on vacation. Many think of international trips where your main purpose is volunteering, but you can also participate in voluntourism for a portion of your trip, instead of the whole thing.

A Greens-at-Work volunteer helps pull invasive plants. Photo: Jay Mather
A Greens-at-Work volunteer helps pull invasive plants. Photo: Jay Mather
Last year, Jane and Tom Kelly (of California) came to enjoy the solar eclipse in Central Oregon with their voluntourism group Greens-at-Work. During their weeklong vacation at Black Butte Ranch, they volunteered with the Deschutes Land Trust and our Weed Warriors. Their group of 9 volunteered 68 hours over two days, with an additional 18 hours from two group members on their “free days” of the trip. That’s a lot of weeds pulled!

“Our voluntourism crew shares a focus on creating habitat for all creatures with whom we share this planet,” said Jane. The Greens-at-Work group participates in voluntourism almost every year, including helping out in Mono Lake, Mendocino, and the Channel Islands.

Why participate in voluntourism? Jane and Tom said, “We enjoy working to improve our physical environment. We find it hard to enjoy open spaces that are filled with invasive plants (a situation that only gets worse over time), so we pull weeds and plant native plants.”

If you’re new to voluntourism, Jane and Tom have a few helpful hints. Start by researching nonprofits that share similar values as you in your vacation spot. Then, reach out to them before your trip. There are a handful of nonprofits that have specific voluntourism pages on their website. Once you’ve participated in voluntourism, talk about it and let others know about your experiences! This can help others begin to look into voluntourism as well.

Once you start participating in voluntourism, there are many things to look forward to doing--meeting locals, learning about different projects, getting an insider’s view at a nonprofit, and of course, enjoying the camaraderie of volunteering.

We hope you’ll participate in voluntourism soon!

 

Many thanks to Jane and Tom Kelly and the Greens-at-Work crew for their volunteer work at the Metolius Preserve and Whychus Canyon Preserve!

 

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