Canada | Outdoor Camp Volunteer | Hannes

Hannes, a 20-year-old from Germany, embarked on a transformative volunteering experience with New Ventures Worldwide (NVW) at an outdoor camp in Canada. Hannes recounts his dynamic role, where he initially focused on preparing the camp and hosting smaller groups for outdoor school activities. From instructing archery classes to organizing campfire stories, Hannes relished every moment of his experience. Immersed in an international community of around 70 people, he forged lasting friendships and embarked on memorable adventures, including road trips through the West. Despite occasional homesickness and challenges with Wi-Fi, Hannes found solace in disconnecting from social media and embracing the beauty of the wilderness.

“I loved working with kids, planning and organizing activities, learning forest skills, making fire, and improving my English. It was epic! I got homesick after the initial excitement wore off and the Wi-Fi was so bad, but I learned to live without my phone, get away from social media, and enjoy the woods.”

Motivation to Volunteer

Hannes’s desire for a gap year and exploration and a recommendation from a family friend led him to embark on this volunteering journey. Seeking a break after school, Hannes aimed to gain valuable experience while making a difference in a unique and enriching environment.

“I wanted a gap year from a very young age, a year out exploring while gaining experience and making a difference somewhere cool.”

Living Away for the First Time

Supported by the camp and accompanied by a friend, Toni, Hannes quickly adapted to living away from home. He embraced independence and found Canadians exceptionally friendly and hospitable, fostering a warm and welcoming environment.

“Canadian people are very friendly, open to visitors, welcoming, and want to show you a good time. I enjoyed the independence.”

Food and Accommodation

Hannes describes the camp’s communal dining experience, where a chef prepared three meals daily during busier seasons, supplemented by individual meal allowances during quieter times. Accommodation consisted of cosy log cabins in the woods, fostering a sense of community among an international group.

“We became a big family as it was full of like-minded and unique people with cool stories.”

Experience with NVW

Despite initial plans to volunteer in New Zealand, Hannes expresses gratitude for the support and flexibility offered by NVW, facilitating his transition to Canada. Their assistance made the process straightforward, ensuring a seamless and rewarding experience.

โ€œNVW were extremely helpful and made it straightforward. I’m grateful it worked out this way, as Canada is unique!”

Personal Growth and Future Aspirations

While maintaining his passion for automotive management, Hannes’s volunteering experience instilled a desire to pursue more volunteer opportunities in the future. He emphasises the transformative nature of immersive volunteering, growing confidence, open-mindedness, and lifelong friendships.

“It’s not just visiting a place for two weeks but really going to a place to live, give back, and be part of it.”

Advice for Aspiring Volunteers

Hannes encourages prospective volunteers to embrace the opportunity for personal growth and self-discovery. He highlights the value of confidence-building, cultural immersion, and the formation of global friendships as invaluable aspects of the volunteering journey.

“It is a great way to become more confident and live independently. It gives new ideas about life, and you’ll become more open-minded.”

Canada | Outdoor Camp Volunteer | Toni

Toni, a 20-year-old, also from Germany, describes his volunteering experience at the outdoor camp as fulfilling and diverse. From maintenance tasks during the quieter months to being a cabin leader during the camp season, Toni relished organising activities and witnessing the joy on campers’ faces. He highlights the camaraderie among the staff, the thrill of outdoor adventures, and the valuable lessons learned in communication and problem-solving.

“I loved meeting so many nice new people, and I learned to communicate well with people, solve problems, and appreciate the little things.”

Motivation to Volunteer

Toni’s desire for a gap year led him to discover NVW through a recommendation from a friend. Intrigued by the idea of a summer camp experience filled with outdoor activities and the beauty of Canadian nature, Toni felt drawn to the opportunity to make a difference while exploring a new country.

“I wanted to gap year, and Canada’s nature sounded perfect.”

Living Away for the First Time

Initially grappling with feelings of isolation and homesickness, Toni found solace in Canada’s welcoming community and breathtaking landscapes. While adjusting to the differences in the cost of living, Toni appreciated the warmth and friendliness of the people, along with the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of his new surroundings.

“The Canadian landscapes are incredible, and the people are so welcoming. I did think the groceries were a bit expensive.”

Food and Accommodation

Toni enjoyed communal meals provided by the camp, although he missed the taste of German cuisine and eventually found comfort in a local German food store. Accommodations in cosy cabins nestled in the woods offered a retreat-like atmosphere, complementing the camp’s natural surroundings.

“The camp provided the food, but I missed German food. Fortunately, there was a German food store in town. We were living right in the woods in a beautiful location.”

Experience with NVW

Toni found the process of joining NVW smooth and well-supported, with excellent communication from the Programme Manager. Feeling fully prepared for his volunteering adventure, Toni appreciated the ease and professionalism of his interactions with NVW.

“It was a totally smooth process, and I felt fully prepared.”

Personal Growth and Future Aspirations

Reflecting on his journey, Toni expresses a desire to maintain the sense of freedom and openness he discovered at the camp. He considers returning for another season, feeling empowered by his growth in confidence and willingness to step out of his comfort zone.

“I want to maintain that sense of freedom. It helped me become more open and extrovert.”

Advice for Aspiring Volunteers

Toni encourages prospective volunteers to follow their instincts and confidently pursue the opportunity. He emphasises the support available and the transformative potential of the experience, urging others not to let fear hold them back from embracing adventure and personal growth.

“If you’re thinking about it, then something in you needs to do it.”