Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Volunteer Tour of Duty

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife and I decided we needed to change things up a bit in our travel routine. We decided to try volunteering at the National Parks. I don't really want to be a campground host and find some of the citizen science projects or trail maintenance more appealing. My wife likes to participate in the visitor information services. We find openings at various parks that satisfy both our wants, the problem seems to be time commitment. My wife wouldn't mind staying in one place for six months at a time, I however like to move around a lot more. I think two or three months in one place would be perfect. We have a much harder time securing volunteer jobs because I refuse to drop anchor for half a year. It tends to cause some hard feelings when she finds a position that is appealing and I won't go along with the time commitment. Shouldn't volunteers have more flexibility?
--Vulnerable Volunteer in Virginia

Dear V:
You do have flexibility, it just doesn't sync with each position you apply for. Volunteer services have become a great boon for both the public and private sector. It is especially popular with the RV traveling crowd. What originally started as a work for hookups barter, between campground hosts and camping facilities, is now expanding into hundreds of positions. The popularity of these programs has generated thousands of volunteer applications all over the country. It has also created competition for many popular areas and jobs that appeal to a great number of people. Often an administrator will select an applicant that is willing to do an entire season over one that desires a partial term. The two of you must work out what time commitments you are willing to make and compromise. The more you can offer in terms of skill and flexibility should boost your chances of landing the volunteer jobs that appeal to you. Applying for more than just one position in one area will also increase your chances of securing a job that fits whatever terms you decide work for the two of you. If you can't find the perfect volunteer job, try one that is not as appealing. Life's and adventure. You might stumble into a job you love and have never considered. You will be surprised how many opportunities to do other things are spawned from an original volunteer position.

--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink



Anonymous said...

My wife and I have volenteered at several places: including St Marys Island in Georgia.and at a Corp of Enginers park in Cartersville,Ga. Both had different things to be done by each of us. Jim G

Bob said...

"Camp Host" is what first comes to mind when volunteering is the topic. We had a wonderful experience of a different kind in Sep/Oct 2011 volunteering at The Panhandle Pioneer Settlement in Blountstown, FL ( This summer (2012) we are headed to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary in South Dakota for a yet different experience. I find myself looking past the typical camp host positions toward something more interesting and exciting. I have found that most positions are negotiable. If you find one that is "almost" what you want, send a resume and make an offer. They may take you up on it.

Pat said...

How about 6 months in one place and 2 sessions of 3 months each in other places. If this is just a summertime occurance, 1 year do 6 months, the next year do two 3 months of volunteering. Problem solved.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget, as with a regular job, there is training and orientation involved. I would rather put the effort into someone making a 6 month commitment than have to go through it all again every couple of months!

Anonymous said...

Do both , take a 6 month job now and next time do two 3 months.