Volunteering in Canada by Toni & Hannes

10-minute read

Antoni and Hannes, two German students, spent five months volunteering at an outdoor camp in Canada.


In their own words, here’s how they got on:


Toni’s Experience

“My journey started with a 10-hour flight from Berlin to Calgary which changed my life completely. I will never forget when Hannes and I walked out the airport and noticed was the bitterly cold Canadian Winter. A typical day is about -34 °C and very short, but astonishingly beautiful. The moment we left the city and saw the Rocky Mountains will stay with me forever.

The day we arrived was pretty chill and had a relaxing atmosphere. We spent the weeks there organizing, repairing, and designing things. It was fun to have some crafting stuff to do, we also chopped wood and did garbage runs to the next town. The whole environment just gave you the feeling to do something helpful, to prepare the camp for the big summer season.

Hannes and I had the great opportunity to buy a truck, and it’s probably one of the best things you can do in such a big country as Canada. Everything is so far apart that you must rely on a car. It just gives you a fantastic feeling of independence. We got our two weeks of vacation right before the summer, so we used that time to make a big road trip to Vancouver, and it probably was one of the best trips I’ve ever done. We modified our truck to sleep there and drove 3000 km in two weeks. These two weeks gave me such a humongous overview of Canada and made me feel small simultaneously. It was just the truck, pure nature, Hannes and me. Our daily program was our beautiful lakes, dreamy rivers, cute little mountain towns and just unbelievable landscapes.

After our return, we got right into staff training, met our summer crew, and realized within seconds that it was such a big bunch of awesome people. We had many international volunteers from the UK, Mexico, Spain, and Ireland. It was an excellent opportunity to chat with people from around the world and talk about different cultures, food, and problems.

We got the chance to live a week as a ‘camper’ to get trained and prepared for the summer and to enable the kids to have their best summer possible. After that, the summer season started. To sum up the summer: Besides a hundred hikes, a bunch of creek visits, happy kids, and weird but at the same cool camp manners, it was probably one of the best summers I’ve ever had. It’s hard to describe what kind of feeling it releases in you when you work in a foreign country.

To work with strangers that slowly but steadily become your family.

To work with kids that are unbelievably homesick at the beginning of the week and don’t want to leave at the end of the week because they liked it so much.

This fulfilling feeling is hard to achieve nowadays, and no matter how much of a cliché it sounds like, it’s possible to get it there.”


Hannes’ Experience

“Firstly, the camp is in the middle of the woods, so it was already quite weird just driving into nowhere. But my first impression was great. It was a lovely small camp and looked so nice in the Winter. For the first 3 to 4 Months, I lived out there with my friend Toni. We did a little bit of maintenance and worked with rental groups. We had a lot of time to explore Canada by ourselves. In June, the spring staff arrived, and we had a few more people to talk to :). It was a lot of fun. In July, summer camp started, and I met so many great people from all around the world.

Also, it was one of the best jobs to work with kids all summer. Seeing our programming and game ideas impact on the kids was amazing. The best moments were when the kids told me they had a great time and wanted to come back next year. Overall, I don’t know how to describe the camp. I think it’s one of the coolest places on earth where you meet the best people. That’s why it is my second home now.”


Here’s what the camp said about Toni & Hannes

“I had the pleasure of having Hannes and Toni volunteer at our Canada Outdoor Camp for seven months.

During this time, they hugely impacted our entire community, despite arriving in the middle of a bitter Canadian winter with frigid temperatures. Hannes and Toni have shown nothing but love and warmth to everyone they encountered during their time here. They immediately became an integral part of our tight-knit team, improving our facility and hosting groups. Their positive attitudes remained constant even when their direct Supervisor moved on unexpectedly.

When our summer season started, Hannes and Toni successfully stepped into cabin leader roles quickly and gracefully. The enthusiastic and caring way they interact with everyone allowed them to build a strong rapport with staff and campers. Their patience with others’ shortcomings while honouring their strengths was outstanding. Hannes and Toni inspire everyone with their calm demeanour and sense of humour while instantly captivating respect.

In a natural and unpredictable outdoor camp environment, we must have staff who can adapt to absolutely anything. It was refreshing to have people like Hannes and Toni whom we could implicitly trust with responsibility. They could handle challenging situations because of their hard-working nature and sound judgement. They Used their creativity and problem-solving skills to help everything run smoothly.

The maturity and intellectual capacity that these young men have is far beyond their years. They exemplify what it means to be a professional and are some of the best staff members I have worked with. Hannes and Toni are ideal employees and exceptional human beings and would be invaluable assets to any organization.

We are very grateful for their dedication and wish them all the best. They will always be welcome here.”

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