Volunteer Vacation FAQ
Q. Is there a cost for me to attend a Volunteer Vacation?
A. Yes. Although you are a volunteer, there are costs associated with running this type of program. Your trip fee helps cover a portion of our field staffing, food, equipment and transportation. Grants, government agreements, and individual donations from WTA supporters provide the rest of the funding needed for each Volunteer Vacation.
Trip fees for WTA members are $195 for the first trip and $145 for each additional trip during the season. The non-member trip fee is $235 for the first trip, which includes a one-year WTA membership.
There is a $30 cancellation fee for cancellations more than 30 days prior, and no refund for cancellations less than 30 days prior to the trip. Your fee is due within two weeks of signing up for a trip.
Q. How can I sign up for a Volunteer Vacation?
A. There is an application and approval process for anyone interested in heading out on a Volunteer Vacation. Volunteers must submit an application and medical form. The application can be found in the link to your trip agenda, which you will receive in your e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org upon signing up. We keep these on file, so you only need to fill out one per season.
Once you have submitted your application and full payment, you will be confirmed for the trip. To secure a spot on your desired trip, be sure to turn your application in quickly. To this end, online applications are preferred!
Q. The trip I really want to go on is full! Is there a waitlist?
A. Absolutely. If a trip is marked as "Full," please contact the office by e-mailing email@example.com or by calling 206-965-8565, and we will add you to the waitlist.
Q. Will I receive a refund if I have to cancel?
A. Refunds (minus a $30 cancellation fee) will be given if you withdraw from a trip up to one month before the vacation begins. This gives WTA enough time to advertise a vacancy on the trip or to notify someone on the waitlist of the availability. Please indicate that you would like a refund at the time that you cancel. Again, these are only available if you cancel 30 days prior to the trip.
Q. Must I commit to stay for the entire week?
A. Yes! If you cannot commit to an entire week, we have plenty of weekend overnight trips as well as Backcountry Response Team (BCRT) trips that we’d love for you to join. See if these are a good alternative for you on our Trail Maintenance Schedule.
Q. What is the difficulty of a weeklong trip?
A. We have a rating system based on the initial hike to the base camp:
Easy: 1-3 mile backpack to camp with little elevation gain
Moderate: 3-5 mile backpack to camp with 500 – 1,000 feet elevation gain
Difficult: 5-8 mile backpack to camp with 1-2,000 feet elevation gain
Strenuous: 4 – 6 mile or more backpack to camp with 2,000 feet or more elevation gain
A day's trail work can be strenuous if you are not accustomed to it. We encourage you to join us on a regular one-day work party to see if you would enjoy this type of work for a full week. We also encourage all volunteers to work at their own speed, pace themselves, take breaks, and change tasks frequently.
The crew leaders are there to help you understand what is required and how it can be accomplished in the easiest way. If you are suffering any type of health problems that might be aggravated by physical exertion and could not be controlled at a safe level while in the field, a weeklong vacation is probably not appropriate for you.
Q. What should I bring?
A. Please consult the suggested list of things to bring before you commit. You MUST be properly prepared and “geared” up for a week in the backcountry.
Q. What is the menu like?
A. There is some variation based on the crew leader for the trip, but this gives you a pretty good idea of what you’ll have. We like to think of it as “Comfort food meets Pacific Northwest cuisine”...
Egg scramble with toasted bagels
Each breakfast will have sides of sausage and/or bacon
Oatmeal and granola for those who like a lighter breakfast
Build-your-own lunch with whole grain bread, fresh veggies, fresh fruit, GORP, chips and other snacks.
NW Seafood Cuisine
Italian with lots of garlic
South ofthe Border Special
Taste of India
Flavors of Thai
Dutch oven Delight
Cookies and more cookies.
Fieldmade huckleberry cobbler, when in season
Q. Can you accommodate food allergies and/or special requests?
A. Yes, but we need to know in advance. When you apply, be sure to indicate your food allergies or dietary preferences in the space given to you in the application. We do most of our shopping in bulk, so please realize that we may not be able to make major menu adjustments, but we are almost always able to accommodate the menu for most dietary requirements.
Q. What is a typical day like?
A. Depending on the project or the weather (sometimes at “hot” locations, your crew may decide to start work early or end the day early), the hike to the worksite will vary and you should make sure to check the overall trip difficulty before you join.
Arrival: Saturday morning or afternoon, depending upon the agreed upon meeting time as directed to you by your crew leader. Hike to camp, set up camp, relax!
Sunday – Friday (excluding Wed, which is your day off):
6:30 to 7:00am – Rise n’ shine, make your lunch with the lunch goodies
7:00am – Breakfast is served, please be on time!
7:30 to 8:00am – Clean-up from breakfast (dishes, put food away, etc).
8:00 to 8:30am – Leave for the work site
8:30 to 9:00am – Begin work on the project
9:00 to noon – Continue work, stopping periodically for breaks.
Noon – Lunch – take at least a 30 min. lunch break, probably longer to recuperate and enjoy the fresh mountain air!
After lunch to 3:00ish. Continue working, stopping periodically for breaks. Depending on the difficulty of the project and the weather, the "end" time may vary from day to day. Don't overwork!
3:00 to 4:00 Back to camp for salty snacks and Gatorade.
4:00 to 5:00 Unwind and freshen up - find a stream or lake to put your feet (or body) in, take quick snooze, find a tree to read under, go fishing, etc.
5:00 to 6:00 Social Hour, hang out, help with dinner, talk about the day or just continue with your nap.
6:00 to 7:00 Dinner time. Enjoy a big plate of fresh, hot food.
After dinner – A few volunteers for clean-up and dishes. After that, you’re free to go back to your tent (although you may be heckled if you try to turn in before 8pm!).
Q. What is expected of me? (after all, this is my vacation!)
A. Other than having a good attitude, adhering to a few simple rules, and helping out with the camp chores, you are free to relax and enjoy your surroundings after a hard day of work. You’ll be amazed at what you and your crew will have accomplished by the end of the week!
Q. What about that day off?
A. Wednesday is your day to relax or explore your beautiful surroundings.
Q. What is the alcohol policy?
A. While the Volunteer Vacation is intended to be a meaningful social experience, it is not designed to be a party. Consumption of alcoholic beverages on Volunteer Vacations is discouraged to protect the health, well-being and experience of other volunteers. Any intake of alcoholic beverages requires moderation by the user, and anyone abusing this rule will be directed to leave if the conduct persists. Please be respectful of others.
Q. What else should I know?
A. Visit our general Trailwork FAQ’s for a day on trail – most of these still apply to our weeklong trips. Our Guide to Trailwork is also a good reference for the technical side of things.