Q&A: How to Make the Most of a Multi-Day Volunteer Trip
Each year, WTA offers volunteers a chance to go out on multiday work parties. We interviewed volunteer veterans to get their tips on how to make the most of your trip.
Have you been dreaming of a vacation in the backcountry? WTA can help. Each year, we offer volunteers a chance to go out on multiday work parties. We interviewed volunteer veterans to get the inside scoop on the trips.
Three Volunteer Vacations
How did you prepare for your Volunteer Vacation? I tried to do more day hikes at places like Tiger Mountain. I also used the gear list that WTA provides as a checklist when I was packing for my trip. Though I hadn’t been on any WTA work parties prior to my first Volunteer Vacation, I was already an experienced backpacker.
What did you most enjoy about the experience? Everything! Except the rain. What has kept me coming back is the people I’ve gotten to meet and the places I’ve gotten to see.
What advice would you give someone considering a WTA backcountry trip for the first time? Start with a trip that includes lodging. It can be hard if all you have to return to after a long day of working on trail is a tiny one-person tent. But either way, I would say “Go for it.” For me, by the third day, my mind and my body have grown accustomed to a new rhythm. By the end of the trip, I feel stronger than ever. It’s like a rebirth.
One Backcountry Response Team
How did you prepare for your BCRT? When I registered for my BCRT, I had just completed physical therapy for a surgery I had had the year before. To make sure I was ready for the trip, I made a conscious effort to take more frequent walks around the neighborhood and went on short hikes in local parks. I also attended a day work party leading up to my trip to get reacquainted with the type of work I would encounter in the backcountry. Hiking downhill during the day work party reminded me to pack my trekking poles for my backcountry trip.
What was your biggest concern leading up to your trip? My biggest concern was keeping up with the rest of the crew. I was happy to find that there was a diversity of ages and hiking paces, so I fit in just fine.
What advice would you give someone considering a WTA backcountry trip for the first time? Know your limits. Get some work done, but don’t work so hard that you never want to do it again.
Two BCRTs, Four Volunteer Vacations
What did you enjoy most about the experience? The camaraderie and the friendship. When you go on a weeklong Volunteer Vacation, you and your fellow volunteers spend seven days in the wilderness cooking, laughing, telling campfire stories and digging in the dirt. It’s an immensely rewarding experience.
What was your biggest concern leading up to your first trip? Oh gosh, there were so many … Will I survive for a week without a shower? Where are the facilities? What do you do when you gotta “go”? Will I be cold and miserable? Will my tent leak? I can happily report that I did survive and I’ve joyously gone on several trips since.
What advice would you give someone considering a WTA backcountry trip for the first time? I would first make sure that you like doing trail work. I recommend starting with WTA day trips. From there, if you enjoy trail work, are in decent physical condition and have a desire to spend some quality time in the wilderness, my advice is to go for it!
Two Youth Volunteer Vacations
How did you prepare for your Youth Volunteer Vacation? I try to spend most of my summers in the outdoors, backpacking and climbing, which probably gets me in good shape for trail work. I didn’t need to prepare mentally because I am always so excited to get outdoors and do trail work!
What did you enjoy most about the experience? While the accomplishment of a day’s work feels amazing, in reality I love trail work for the community that surrounds it. This past summer we would do an eight-hour day of work and finish around 4 p.m. Routinely we would go down to the beach at our campsite and hang out until the sun went down.
What was your biggest concern leading up to your trip? I usually don’t have many concerns unless they involve food. For some reason, I’m always afraid I’ll starve in the backcountry. I didn’t have to worry; WTA has amazing food. There was an exorbitant amount of chocolate, so much that a bunch of teenagers couldn’t finish it all!
What advice would you give someone who is considering a WTA backcountry trip for the first time? If you have done frontcountry trips and have really loved them, then you’ll love your backcountry trip even more. Being out in the woods for one or two weeks may seem scary if you’re not experienced but everyone else will help you learn. Being in the backcountry … instills a sense of confidence and independence. Also, if you can pack your bag more than one day in advance, I would recommend it. Bring as little as possible. At most site you can wash clothing and packing light is helpful for organization, as well as for hiking in.