Workcamp Organizer’s Manual
Revised: January, 2005
table of contents
Timeline for Workcamp Hosts................................................................................................ 2
Introduction/History of VFP..................................................................................................... 2
I: CONSIDERATIONS FOR POTENTIAL HOSTS
What is a Workcamp?................................................................. 3
Workcamp Hosts........................................................................ 3
Workcamp Requirements (Summary)........................................ 3
Work Project............................................................................... 3
Food & Supplies.......................................................................... 5
Social Activities/Community Involvement................................... 6
II: BEFORE THE WORKCAMP
A Bit About the Volunteers.......................................................... 7
Scheduling & Number of Volunteers............................................7
Preparing the Program Announcement........................................8
III: DURING THE WORKCAMP
Insurance / Workcamp Health & Safety Tips 10
During The Workcamp 11
Communication With VFP
Volunteer Dismissal 11
The End of the Workcamp 12
IV: AFTER THE WORKCAMP
Evaluation/Camp Reports 12, 16-17
A: Co-Leader's Manual 12-18
B: Icebreakers and Group Games 18
C: Additional Reading List/Tips
Thank you for your interest in organizing, hosting, and/or leading a workcamp. The goal of this manual is to provide basic information on the history of workcamps and VFP, and offer practical suggestions for creating positive workcamp experiences. It contains information on organizing and preparing for a workcamp, hosts’ responsibilities, and ways of insuring that the community and the international volunteers benefit from your local workcamp. This manual should be used as a guide from the decision to host a workcamp until the final evaluation. It is important to remember that every workcamp is different so you will need to adapt this information to your specific situation. If you need additional information, support or ideas please contact me. I look forward to working with you.
Cami MacLean, US Program Coordinator
Tel: (802) 259-2759 Email: email@example.com
THE HISTORY OF VFP
VFP was incorporated in Vermont in 1981 for the purpose of "promoting peaceful relations among nations." At our first workcamp in 1982, 19 volunteers from 13 countries including the USSR lived and worked together for three weeks. We were accepted as a member of the Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service (CCIVS) at UNESCO in 1982. VFP has grown over the years largely through "word of mouth" from former workcamp volunteers. In 2004 we sponsored 65 workcamps in the USA. In 2002, VFP received the Daily Points of Light Award. As well as coordinating domestic workcamps, we place North American volunteers in international programs in over 90 countries. By connecting volunteers from diverse cultures in the USA and abroad we provide opportunities to overcome prejudice and cultural misunderstandings. Through tangible work projects and the challenges of group living situations, volunteers and local communities create a more positive and hopeful vision of themselves, their world and the future.
I: Considerations for Potential Hosts
The following section presents items of consideration for potential hosts. Please review this chapter carefully before confirming your willingness to host volunteers.
WHAT IS A WORKCAMP?
A workcamp is a group of 8-20 international volunteers from four or more countries who come together to assist a local community with a project. Volunteers are 18 or older and are prepared to live and work in a communal environment. They prepare meals, work, and relax together and with the local community. Volunteers usually work 30 hours per week. Living conditions are often simple and work can be strenuous but fun and rewarding. Workcamps are a great way to make new friends, complete a meaningful project and increase international understanding.
VFP camps are hosted by local communities, peace organizations, environmental groups, solidarity groups, community action groups, non-profit associations, and others who are interested in the impact an international group can have on their community. VFP reviews potential workcamp hosts and projects and selects host locations where we can support the goals of the project. To be considered for a VFP Workcamp, hosts must have a suitable work project, a genuine interest in cooperating with international volunteers, and the ability to provide room and board for the workcamp participants. The work project must be of benefit to the community of a non-profit organization. VFP supports work projects where paid staff could not be hired. We facilitate the completion of needed community projects.
Workcamp Requirements (Summary)
As workcamp host you are responsible for local organization of the camp. The four most important components of any workcamp are: meaningful work, housing, food, and social interaction with the community. In order to provide these you will have to do some local fundraising and solicit donations from local organizations as well as family and friends in your community. You will also need to consider local transportation, safety, leadership, publicity, recreation and other areas to make this a fun and productive program for the volunteers and the local community. Specific requirements and suggestions for each of these areas are detailed below.
The first step in organizing a workcamp is to find a meaningful work project. When selecting a project it is important to remember that you will have a large work force (20 volunteers for 3 weeks working 6 hours a day = 1800 hours of labor!!!). Many hosts combine work at their non-profit site with another project of benefit to the community (painting or beautification, social work, renovation, etc). However, it is good if you have a maximum of two projects for the volunteers. With multiple projects you will spend a lot of time explaining the different work and volunteers won't get a sense of completing a major project. When choosing a project consider the reason the work is needed and be prepared to explain this to the volunteers. Please remember to include training and orientation time for the volunteers - most of them will have no previous work experience!
The volunteers will definitely have questions about the organization they are working for. The host and co-leader need to be sure the functions and history of the organization are explained to the volunteers so that they have a better sense of what their labor is supporting. The work part of a workcamp is much more enjoyable if the volunteers get a sense of why they are doing the work. It's important that the volunteers leave with a sense of accomplishment and the feeling that they contributed to the welfare of others in some tangible way.
Questions regarding the work project:
· Is the work truly necessary? Who will it benefit?
· Is there a leader who can facilitate the work project and train the volunteers?
· Will the work project definitely be ready for volunteers? (Ex: A foundation should be poured before volunteers come to build the house.) Any necessary permits should be secured as far in advance as possible.
· Can the needed equipment and materials be organized by the time of the camp? This includes tools, construction material, wood, stones, paint etc. according to the number of volunteers. Be sure there will be enough tools for all!
· Are there contingency plans in case weather impacts what can or can't be done or if volunteers accomplish more than expected? Volunteers like to feel needed!
· Will workcampers work together most of the time or be split into smaller groups?
Volunteers usually live in a communal fashion and housing can be quite simple but must be clean, warm and dry. Volunteers shouldn't have to change their living arrangements during the 2-3 week camp. Typical accommodations are a church, school, town hall, or even a campground with tents. Accommodations are usually donated by a local organization. You may want to have the volunteers assist with a project at the accommodation site (painting a room, planting flowers, mowing the lawn…) in exchange for using the space. Volunteers must have sufficient kitchen space, utensils and dishes to prepare their meals, space for refrigeration, and a room to sleep and relax in. If there is a room with a carpet volunteers can sleep on the floor in sleeping bags. If the floor is not carpeted you should try to find cots or mattresses for the volunteers.
Many items that would prove useful to your project can be found in the attics and basements of community members. Furniture, utensils and old mattresses are common items that people can donate or lend to you. Try to draw upon the resources within your own community and thereby get them more involved in your workcamp! You can also contact local organizations such as the National Guard, Boy Scouts, Red Cross or others for supplies.
Questions regarding accommodation:
· Is there enough space for the number of volunteers you have requested? There should be enough beds/mattresses available, sanitary facilities and a space where the whole group can get together. Is the kitchen useable? Does it have a refrigerator & stove? Are there enough pans, plates, and utensils?
· Are running water and toilets available? If there are not showers at the accommodations you will need to make other arrangements such as in local homes, at the recreation area or pool, or build a temporary shower for use during the camp.
· Is there a safe, & secure place for volunteers' passports, money, cameras, etc?
· Will transportation from the accommodation to the work site be an issue?
· Will there be anyone else using the space occupied by the volunteers during the camp? Who? When?
· Who is responsible for the security and maintenance of the space? What is their telephone number?
· Where is the fire extinguisher and first aid kit? If they are not already at the site you must provide them.
Food & Supplies:
The workcamp host will find that the major expense of a workcamp is providing food and supplies for the volunteers - get as much as possible donated! It is important for local community members, including businesses, to be involved in the workcamp. VFP is a non-profit organization and all donations are tax-deductible. We provide a food stipend to new hosts in the amount of $75 per volunteer.
Volunteers usually prepare their meals on a rotating basis. They need enough space, products, and utensils to cook for the group. Meals are an important time when all volunteers are together. Thought and assistance should be available to help volunteers plan meals, understand financial limitations (if they exist), identify new food products and prepare meals. Remember, well fed volunteers work harder and are happier.
Be sure to inform the person/s who will be shopping of your food budget. All purchases should have a receipt that you keep to understand what your expenses were. Please remember that VFP is a non-profit and you should not have to pay tax on items you purchase (like toilet paper, paper plates…). If you would like a copy of our tax-exempt certificate please ask.
Workcamp hosts are never obliged to buy alcohol, cigarettes, candy or other personal consumption items for the volunteers. If volunteers over 21 wish to have wine with their meal or have a beer after work, they may pay for it themselves. Some of our hosts prohibit smoking or drinking on workcamp premises. Make sure you establish smoking/drinking rules before the camp begins and make sure to inform volunteers of the rules at your first camp meeting.
Tips on receiving food donations:
You should start asking for donations a few months before your workcamp begins. You will find you have much better luck with a personal approach. This is a big job and can take a lot of time, so try to get as many people as possible from the local community to assist. You could delegate a few businesses for each person to contact.
· Call or write VFP and ask for a copy of our tax-exempt certificate and a quantity of newsletters.
· Prepare a short letter explaining your work project and listing what you need.
· Visit or call all local food companies and explain your project, offer to send them a letter, and in a few weeks call again. (Use the yellow pages of the telephone book to find lots of contacts.) If you ask in advance you will get a lot of donations. You need everything, even toilet paper, so ask as many companies as possible.
· Contact all bakeries and bread suppliers in your area and ask what they do with their day-old products. Your volunteers will eat a LOT of bread and they will eat it at every meal.
· Go to your local food store and ask what they do with dairy and other products when they near the expiration date. These items are often fine to use within a few days of the expiration. If you do get past dated donations, explain to volunteers how to tell if food is spoiled.
· It pays to buy some items in bulk, such as potatoes, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
· Contact local restaurants, pizzerias, and delis. If asked they will often donate a lunch or dinner for the group.
· Contact food wholesalers or co-ops in your area and see if they will provide you with the food you need at a discount or even at cost.
· Supermarket chains have been known to give sizable discounts. This arrangement usually has to be made through their central office well in advance.
· Local gardens are a valuable source of food. Perhaps you might plant extra vegetables in your own garden or ask all your friends to do this.
· Go to the local Farmers' Market and ask the farmers if they would like to make a contribution. There are always vegetable surpluses in the summer and the quality of the food is much better than that purchased elsewhere.
It is much easier to gather donations of products then to solicit money to buy them!
Social Activities/Community Involvement
Your volunteers have come to help you with a project and learn about your culture but they also want to have FUN and meet the local community! Leisure activities do not have to be expensive or complicated but you should plan some before the volunteers arrive. It is helpful for the volunteers to have a list of recreation and free time activities available in your area so they can discuss their options and make decisions.
You should plan at least one community event. This can be a community workday, potluck dinner, barbecue, hike, etc. It should be at least three days after the start of the camp so the volunteers have had time to acclimate. This is a good time to invite people from local media as well.
If members of the community have been involved or expressed an interest in participating with the program, it is good to make a list with their name, telephone number, and what they have offered or can do for the group.
Harry Smith 232-7980
Loves hiking and wants to take volunteers on weekend
Other free-time options:
· What natural activities are available? Hiking, swimming, canoeing? Do you need a car to get to them?
· Are there museums or public places of interest in the area? When are they open and how much do they cost? (Maybe you can ask for complimentary tickets for your volunteers?)
· Is there a local pool or recreation area? Can you organize passes for the volunteers?
· What are the closest towns/cities of interest? Is there public transportation available to them? What is the cost and schedule?
· Sports are very popular. Are there facilities available to the volunteers? Are there people in the community that want to play with the volunteers or have equipment to lend? (Soccer balls, tennis rackets, bikes, badminton rackets…)
II: Before the Workcamp
A BIT ABOUT The Volunteers
One reason for organizing an international workcamp is to bring together a group of people of diverse backgrounds, ages, and nationalities. While the volunteers learn a lot about their respective cultures during the camp, it is important to remember that they also want to learn about your community. Plan activities that promote individual contact with local community members and increase international understanding among all.
Volunteers have different motivations for participating in your workcamp. Some reasons for volunteering internationally are:
· To do something useful during a holiday
· To be active for social justice and peace
· To become acquainted with a different country or another societal structure and make new friends
· To improve their English or other language skills
· To travel inexpensively in a different country
· To participate in intensive group processes & experience communal living
Remember, foreign volunteers will be speaking English as a foreign language and you will need to speak slowly and explain clearly. Some volunteers may also suffer from culture shock in reaction to their new environment. In general, good relations with the volunteers begin with thoughtful communication, understanding and patience.
In this age of the “tv/computer generation” you may find that the volunteers do not know how to do many things that previous generations of young people have had knowledge of. With proper training and motivation from the host, the volunteers should be able to do the work required. Be patient and remember that language barriers can make learning new skills more difficult. A sense of humor will help!
Volunteers may be reluctant to talk about their own countries or cultures without encouragement. You might suggest having an international evening, where people present something typical from their country or region. This could include food, songs, games, customs etc.
Scheduling and number of volunteers
Most workcamps take place for 2 or 3 weeks between July and October. The length, dates and number of volunteers you choose should be based on your work project, housing, and ability to accommodate the volunteers. Some hosts with large or on-going projects have several consecutive camps during the summer. For first time hosts we recommend you start with one two-week camp. Camps that are 3 weeks long give volunteers a little more time to exchange information, meet the community and complete the work project. Two-week camps require a smaller time commitment and less financial support from the local community.
Groups usually consist of 8-20 volunteers. It is helpful if you provide us with a minimum and maximum range for the number of volunteers (e.g. 8-10, 12-15). Due to a variety of issues, about 25% of the volunteers who register for workcamps are “no-shows”. To accommodate this eventuality, VFP generally over enrolls the camps to ensure that the group size will come close to the host’s expectations. However, some workcamps are limited in the amount of accommodation that is available for volunteers, so if you have requested 8 volunteers and there is no space available for possible extras, we must know this in advance. Providing us with a minimum and maximum number of volunteers will help us to register an appropriate number for your work project and accommodation.
A group of happy and motivated volunteers can get a lot done, so be sure you have enough work for the length of the camp and number of volunteers you choose. Keep in mind that being responsible for an international group will require a lot of energy, organization and planning on your part. Community support is needed to make this job enjoyable for all.
Some camps have special requirements for their volunteers. If you have too many requirements it may be difficult for us to find volunteers for you. You can request your volunteers meet certain criteria or agree to specific conditions. Some areas to consider are age (e.g., 18-25, 30 or older…), gender, smoking habits, diet (e.g., vegetarian food only), previous experience (e.g., must have prior experience working with children), schedule (e.g., curfew at 11:00) or other criteria.
Feel free to call us if you have questions regarding the number or type of volunteers you need.
Preparing the program announcement
If you definitely intend to host volunteers during the upcoming summer, A 150-word typed description of the workcamp project must be sent to VFP by February 15th to be included in our announcement of US Workcamps for the year. This must include:
ü Dates of the camp – The start date is the day volunteers will arrive and the end date is the day they will leave.
ü Minimum and Maximum number of volunteers.
ü A brief profile of the location, organization and project.
ü Describe clearly and honestly the type of work the volunteers will be expected to do.
ü Study theme and/or recreational opportunities.
ü The closest city airport they can fly in to as well as a bus or train terminal at which they will be met. (This helps volunteers to locate your camp on a map.)
ü Accommodations if known. Be sure to indicate if volunteers will be sleeping outdoors or need to bring camping equipment (tent/sleeping pad). Any special diets or restrictions must be noted.
ü Special requirements or restrictions for your program.
You are writing this description to attract volunteers to your camp but you must be clear and realistic as well. Do not list social activities that are not confirmed. Be sure to state any religious affiliations, special expectations, rules of the camp, behavioral expectations, safety issues, etc. clearly.
Example of Workcamp Announcement:
Trout Lake, Washington JULY 5 - 18 6 VOLS (ages 18-28)
Mt. Adams Center of the Northwest Service Academy brings together young adults committed to service to their community and environment. Work: Hard work and fun: Watershed restoration and conservation activities including fence building, tree planting, weed removal, and trail building. Bring good boots, warm clothes, tent (if possible), sleeping bag. Accommodation: Based at residential center. Some camping. Great food, vegetarian/vegan possibilities. Location: A rural, residential community located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Study&Recreation: Informal evening and weekend recreational activities with our 30 members. Requirements: Volunteers must speak fluent English and be willing to work hard in an outdoor setting. No alcohol. Terminal: Portland, Oregon.
You will need to begin raising money and donations a few months before the start of your camp. It is difficult to provide an accurate cost estimate for camps because they vary in size, projects, location, length, etc. In the last 20 years VFP has coordinated over 500 workcamps in 25 states. The expenditures at these camps ranged from as little as $500 to as much as $3500. The cost of a camp greatly depends on the amount of "in-kind" support you receive from your local community. If you call VFP we can help you decide how much and what you will need. We also offer some financial assistance to new hosts, with the expectation that this will help them achieve self-sustainability for future camps. It is important that the local community contribute to the program since they will be reaping the benefits. Some fundraising ideas are listed below:
· Make posters with photos from previous camps. If there were any newspaper articles make copies. Ask us for Newsletters or Directories to have on display.
· Remember that all contributions (cash, items, services) are tax deductible. (VFP Federal Tax ID# 03-0282748) If contributors are more comfortable they can make checks payable to VFP and we will cash them for you.
· Start early and plan on contacting people several times. It works well to send a brief letter and then follow with a telephone conversation or visit.
· Try to get on the local TV or radio station and have an article in the local paper. Often Churches and other organizations have a newsletter and would be happy to include information on the workcamp. Be sure that there is an address to send contributions to and mention that they are tax deductible. You can use our office address if you like.
· The most difficult part of fundraising events is ensuring that you will have a good turnout. Have the dinner/benefit/raffle sponsored by a popular organization. Have it announced on the radio. Put up lots of posters. Tell all your friends.
· Host a community dinner, barbecue, or dessert party with an entry charge of $5 - $15 per person depending on what you will serve. You can often get food contributed by local restaurants or stores. Alternatively you can have friends, church members or others prepare a dish. If you hold this event during the workcamp the volunteers can help with food preparation, set-up, and entertainment and it is a great opportunity for them to meet the local community.
· Raffles can be very successful. Get items, gift certificates or services donated as prizes. (One prize can be a task that will be done by the workcamp volunteers such as free lawn mowing or garden weeding.) Sell tickets at a local Farmers’ Market, Craft Fair or other community event.
· Send letters to all local banks and large businesses asking for a contribution. If you would like to print them on our letterhead just ask and we will send you some.
· Bake Sales are fun and easy. Great to have during the workcamp, the volunteers can make goodies and sell them.
· Have a car wash. A local school or group can support your program by providing the labor. Have volunteers make the signs or help washing.
· Stand in a busy location and ask for dollar contributions. You need to be forward but this really works. The disadvantage is you don't often have time to tell people about the program and raise awareness.
· Contact local organizations (Churches, Rotary, United Way, Peace and Justice organizations, Environmental groups) that support projects such as yours and ask for contributions or ideas.
· Hold a musical benefit by asking some local musicians to donate their time to play. See if a local church or school will let you use their space for the event. Have your bake sale or sell raffle tickets at the event. Give out VFP newsletters and talk about the workcamp program.
· Apply for a grant to support your workcamp.
· It is fun and acceptable to ask volunteers to help you with the above fundraising projects and you will find they are good ways to build community awareness.
· Be sure to thank all donors. If a church donates their space, offer the volunteers’ help with an upkeep project. It is nice if you take a picture of the group and send it to all donors after the camp. Keep a list of all donors so you can contact them in the future. Usually if they give once they will again.
Before the start of the workcamp you must consider the leadership format you will employ, and decide who in your organization will take on the necessary roles. The ideal workcamp has two leaders. One should be a person from the local community or host organization who is familiar with the work project. The other can be the work project leader, a community member or in some cases a co-leader provided by VFP. (For more information about VFP co-leaders, see below).
Regardless of who the second leader is, the workcamp must have one strong person who oversees all aspects of the camp and works with the volunteers and work project coordinators to insure the camp is successful. This person will be the primary contact person for VFP. You should have a general leadership structure in place before the volunteers arrive, and plan to convey the “chain of command” to the volunteers during their orientation to the project.
If you are a first-time host or do not have other potential co-leaders in your area, you may want to request a VFP co-leader for your workcamp. VFP co-leaders are experienced volunteers who help bridge the gap between the volunteers, your organization, and the community. VFP cannot guarantee we will be able to find a co-leader for your camp, but we will try.
The co-leader will contact you before the beginning of the camp. If you can accommodate them, it is very helpful to have the co-leader arrive a few days early in order to acclimate and help you prepare for the volunteers. The more you can accomplish in the days before the camp to ensure that things will run smoothly, the better the workcamp experience will be.
The co-leader will be the first person volunteers will turn to with questions so they should have information about local transportation, location of the Laundromat, leisure possibilities, etc. As host you may want to put together a list of important numbers and locations to give to the co-leader and volunteers. The amount of work for the co-leader varies with each camp depending on the host's level of experience and on the volunteers themselves. In addition to facilitating communication during the camp, the co-leader helps ensure the work is completed and, at the same time, that the volunteers have as valuable an experience as possible.
The Co-Leader’s Manual can be found at the end of this booklet. You should review it to be sure that you are prepared for the volunteers, regardless of whether or not you have requested a VFP co-leader.
Workcamps are not required to have a study theme but often the volunteers and community members find a theme an added benefit. The study theme creates a focus (environment, racism, disabilities, hunger, youth policies, etc.) for volunteers and the local community to discuss in an international environment. It is good if the study theme and work project are related so the volunteers can get some hands-on experience in the area of study while in the USA. It is important to remember that the workcamp is an opportunity to learn, grow and share and is not a theoretical seminar. The idea is to motivate the participants to study a certain theme and/or to get further involved after the camp when they return home. The volunteers should not be passive consumers but motivated to participate actively. The study theme can be approached both formally (evening discussion groups, interpretive hikes, visits to local social service organizations) and informally (questions during a lunch break or evening chats). The workcamp host, work project leader, or co-leader can organize discussions and encourage active participation from all volunteers.
The volunteers in your workcamp arrange their own transportation to the workcamp meeting point. This may be the accommodation site itself, if easily accessible, or another meeting point such as a local bus or train station. It is important for the host to plan in advance for the volunteers’ arrival, and be sure to have a plan for the pickup of volunteers.
During the workcamp the local host is responsible for providing transportation from the accommodations to the worksite and back. Transportation may also be needed for shopping and community activities. Volunteers can use public transportation if available, but passes or tokens should be provided. Workcamps of 8 volunteers or less can easily fit into two cars to travel. Hosts are not required to arrange transportation to local sites or cities but help in this area is greatly appreciated. Traveling with a group of international volunteers can be a great time to exchange information, learn new songs, play games and have fun.
Publicity / Photographs
It’s great when a workcamp gets publicity in the local or national press or on radio or TV. You are encouraged to stimulate this by writing press releases, inviting media to events, etc. Please be sure any publicity is as accurate as possible. We would like to have clippings of any articles or photographs that appear in the press. If there is any publicity on the radio or television, we would love to have a copy of the video or audio portion. Be sure you have some extra newsletters to give to reporters and encourage them to call our office if they would like more information about VFP. If you call local media before the camp there is a good chance they will do a story on your international group.
Please take pictures during your camp. We need good photographs of workcamps to illustrate our publications. You will find that they are very useful in future fundraising efforts as well. Please send us a few pictures of your volunteers at work or play. We would like to keep pictures and newspaper articles for our scrapbook but if you would like yours returned just ask.
q If you have a co-leader, when will he or she arrive? Is your leadership plan in place so that everyone knows his or her roles and responsibilities?
q Do you have needed transportation to meet the volunteers as they arrive?
q Are you prepared to do the first food shopping, to purchase bulk supplies, and pick up donations before the start of the camp? Have some prepared food available for the volunteers' first meal.
q Is the work project confirmed and all tools available?
q Is transportation available to and from the work site?
q Have you coordinated possible free time activities?
q Do you have a study theme planned, and if so, any necessary materials?
q Is the housing clean and ready for volunteers?
q You may want to have an article in community publications announcing the program.
q Review Workcamp Organizer’s Manual and Co-Leader Manual.
q Prepare a camp calendar indicating work days and free time. This can be adjusted as necessary throughout the camp.
q Make a list of the information you need to convey to volunteers during the first orientation meeting – for more details, see the next section.
If you have organized the camp well by the time the volunteers arrive a lot of your work is already completed and you should have time to relax and grow from the experience.
III: During the Workcamp
The success of a workcamp depends a great deal on the quality of the orientation given to volunteers when they first arrive. It is best to hold a meeting the morning after the volunteers have arrived to be sure that everyone is present and recovered from their travel. Important topics to cover at the orientation are:
· Introduction to the host organization and staff members
· Information about points of contact for volunteers – who should they ask about accommodation problems, work concerns, free time activities, food & shopping, etc?
· Description of the work project and details of how the volunteers’ labor will benefit the community
· Any rules or procedures for the accommodation – curfew, door locks, use of kitchen area, etc.
· Overview of the camp schedule
· Options for free time
· Introductory games and ice-breakers to introduce the volunteers to one another (see appendix A)
It is important to be an active leader during the workcamp, keeping an eye on the happiness of the volunteers and those they are working with. Be sure to check in with the volunteers, co-leader and organization staff often. Resolving small issues early on can prevent them from becoming serious sources of displeasure.
The workcamp host should set up a schedule for camp meetings. During the camp, meetings provide opportunities to talk about the work project, discuss the study theme, address cultural and other issues, and share information. The workcamp host and project leader should be present at meetings when possible and should assist the co-leader in organizing and facilitating study sessions. The meetings are a positive way for all involved to celebrate their accomplishments and share ideas for improvements.
It is important to remember that you are working with an international group and English may be difficult for many. If volunteers from abroad cannot understand what is being said, they are unlikely to take an interest. Volunteers may not be confident enough to ask others to speak slowly, so it is important that everyone makes a real effort to keep the discussion open and accessible to everyone.
During the workcamp, the co-leader is a resource person who volunteers turn to when in need. The co-leader is NOT the program leader and will need help from the workcamp host. The workcamp organizer should make an effort to call or visit the co-leader every day to answer questions and see if there are problems. If possible stop by the camp during meal times to meet with the group and have informal evaluations regarding the work project, free time, social involvement and other activities.
Insurance & First Aid
VFP arranges accident and health insurance for all foreign volunteers who do not have their own coverage. If volunteers for your organization are already covered by your insurance please let us know. VFP does not cover American volunteers in US camps. We also cannot provide coverage for foreign volunteers who have their own insurance. Coverage is designed to meet US Government mandates and is written by a Swiss company. This is a policy designed exclusively for international workcamp volunteers. All hosts can receive a copy of the coverage upon request. The cost of coverage is about $1.25 per person per day. VFP requires that each host report the exact number of volunteers that have arrived and for how long each person stayed. This information is part of the Host Report form and is essential.
VFP will provide you with insurance forms before your camp, which must be completed by examining physicians in order for an insurance claim to be honored. Included with the forms is an information sheet about filing a claim. Please read the information carefully and review it with your co-leader when they arrive! Claims in excess of US $50.00 must be documented within 24 hours by telephoning VFP (802/259-2759.) Leave a message on our answering machine if you call after business hours. We must report all injuries over $50.00 to our insurance underwriter within 48 hours or they will not pay the claim! The doctor performing the examination for any injury must complete the insurance form we send you. Be sure to keep all receipts, photocopy them, and send the originals to VFP with the completed insurance form.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! At the beginning of the workcamp, warn volunteers about the hazards of the work and the importance of taking things slow. There should be a first-aid kit handy at every work site for whatever injury that might arise. Please review the Health & Safety Tips below with your volunteers as needed. Remember that most accidents happen when volunteers are tired or showing-off.
Workcamp Health & Safety Tips
· Volunteers should wear sensible clothes, suitable for the job. Ensure protective clothing is worn whenever it is supplied.
· There should be proper supervision and users should be instructed in the proper operation of tools and machinery.
· Use as many people as required to lift heavy objects. Lift with a straight back.
· Make sure volunteers don't fool around on work sites, especially with or near the machinery.
· When working with vulnerable groups (children, mentally handicapped people) make sure they are always supervised.
· Be conscious of wires and plugs; learn where to switch off mains at your worksite and accommodations.
· Make a mental note of possible escape routes and location of fire extinguishers and show/tell volunteers where they are. Smoking within the accommodation should be limited to safe areas or discouraged entirely!
· Only properly maintained vehicles should be used. Drivers must be licensed, familiar with local regulations, competent and appropriately insured.
· Be aware of the importance of hygiene in preventing the spread of contagious illnesses. If a volunteer is ill rearrange sleeping places to minimize the spread of infection.
· Be sure that you know about any volunteers with particular health problems, who are taking any mediation or who have allergies. Volunteers prone to any sort of seizures may not work in places with machinery that could present a risk for them. Other volunteers should know how to react in case of a seizure.
· Use universal precautions when first aid is being carried out to prevent transmission of infectious diseases. Wear disposable gloves when treating cuts and cleaning up blood. Clean up blood with a solution of 10% bleach and 90% H20.
· Ensure that there is an adequate First Aid kit with a booklet on emergency care, such as how to treat insect bites, burns, etc. List emergency phone numbers and addresses in a convenient location. Be familiar with the worksite and accommodation addresses and phone numbers to give to emergency agencies. It is very helpful to know something about First Aid, if in doubt always call for help.
· Observe basic hygiene rules in food preparation areas:
o Food handlers should change from work clothes and wash their hands before preparing food
o Do not smoke or allow animals in food prep areas
o Keep raw and cooked meat on separate surfaces and prepare with separate utensils
o Make sure food is cooked thoroughly
o When cooking food ahead, cool rapidly, then store safely
o Wash all fruits and vegetables
o Do not store food on the floor
o Wash dishes with hot water and detergent
DRUGS & ALCOHOL:
Keep in mind that in the United States, consumption of alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal. It is also illegal for a person over 21 to provide alcohol to someone under 21. The legal and social consequences can be severe. Know the law in your state. Be aware that over-indulgence may cause poor health and risk-taking behavior(s). Be sure to have a dialogue to make clear your rules about drinking, smoking and other drug use. Drugs, except prescriptions and other medications, are illegal in the United States.
SEXUAL ISSUES IN WORKCAMPS:
Hosts are encouraged to open a discussion early in the workcamp regarding awareness of sexual issues. There are people coming together from many different backgrounds and there may be some very different interpretations of casual physical contact such as hugging or even a hand on a shoulder. Some camps make an overt request that intimate relationships be avoided as it can make the larger group dynamics more complicated and it can sometimes interfere with group functioning. Some camps just make cautionary statements about being aware of the larger group if romantic or other more intense pairings occur. Some workcamps seem to take this type of relationship in stride and even look forward to and celebrate the romances that will often start during camps. Please contact VFP if you would like additional ideas about workshops, etc regarding this issue.
Your volunteers will need transportation during the camp. They may need to drive to the worksite or a community event or they may want to visit another area on the weekend. VFP encourages you to rely on Americans to drive when possible. Only as a last resort should you ask a volunteer from a country where they drive on the left side of the road to be the driver (UK, Hong Kong, etc). When you have a large group riding together there are a lot of added distractions for the driver so the person most familiar with the area, American road signs, and reading English.
Remember, one of the major goals of international workcamps is intercultural exchange. Try to keep the community informed about the volunteers’ efforts, and provide as many opportunities as possible for the volunteers to interact with local people. If you have time, remind the local press of the volunteers’ presence and ask them to interview or photograph the volunteers. Arrange a community barbecue or other event. Relax with the volunteers!
Despite the efforts, occasionally there is a volunteer who just does not belong in a workcamp. This can be someone who refuses to participate in the work project, repeatedly acts or speaks in an offensive manor, or is just unhappy with the group situation. It could also be a “couple” that only want to spend time together and do not mix with the group. The host and volunteers should encourage this participant to be an active volunteer. If this does not work the host has the right to ask a volunteer to leave the camp. You must inform VFP before you ask the volunteer to leave. It is helpful to the project and other volunteers if this is discussed in a group setting so everyone understands and is comfortable with the decision.
Sometimes a volunteer who has not registered through VFP arrives at the start of the camp – in most cases, these are friends or family members of legitimately registered volunteers. You are not obliged to accept this volunteer. If you do accept them they must pay the workcamp registration fee like all other volunteers. Information on this is included in your summer hosting packet. Please contact VFP if an unregistered volunteer arrives.
IV: The End of the Workcamp
The last few days of the project and what happen afterward are almost as important as the beginning. We want all volunteers to feel they have achieved something tangible and appreciate the lasting effects of their work and the experience. There is a danger that the energy and enthusiasm built up at the beginning can fritter away and the end is a bit anti-climatic. It is good to plan a special event for the end of the camp to celebrate your accomplishments.
The camp organizers, work leader, co-leader and any interested community participants should set a time for a camp evaluation. Be sure to thank the volunteers, remind them of the importance of the work they have done, and encourage them to continue their work for international understanding and peace.
We will include a workcamp report form with the packet of pre-camp information. The co-leader, workcamp host, and project leader should work together on the camp evaluation and workcamp report. The first page of the report provides a space to list the number of days each volunteer was present. We must know how many volunteers arrived and how long they stayed (for insurance purposes). You’ll also be asked how successful the work project was, what level of fundraising was achieved, suggestions for improvement, etc. Please let us know if you would like to have a workcamp in the future, or not, and give us a few reasons for your decisions. Remember to send pictures and include originals of any publicity with your report! The more information we have the more we can assist you with future projects.
Questionnaires will also be sent to the volunteers at the workcamp address. We use all comments to make improvements to future programs. The volunteers will be responsible for filling out and returning their evaluations to VFP, but please remind them of this responsibility before the end of the camp.
On page 40 there are some fun activities to help get feedback from your volunteers.
CO-LEADER'S MANUAL QuestionsuSuggestionsuTasksuIdeas
Thank you for assisting us by agreeing to co-lead a workcamp. The following manual includes issues and ideas you should address before and during the workcamp. This information is very detailed. The local host/workcamp organizer should already have arranged most of the detailed requirements. They are responsible for the camp - it is your job to facilitate the program, not to arrange everything. In some cases certain items below will be completely irrelevant due to the nature of the program. (Ex: The host organization may already have a schedule for meals or a source for food.)
If the host is unprepared, disorganized or not able to accommodate the volunteers, please contact VFP immediately and we will try to assist you. Please remember that you are our eyes and ears at the camp. You need to pass information on to us. We use this information when deciding on future camps and when we work with hosts to improve future projects. If there is anything we can do to improve your experience or the experience of the group please ask us.
Role of the Co-Leader
Being a co-leader means that you will assist the local host with the logistics of the work project. This usually means that you will be their main contact at the camp. You will be in charge of running the first few camp meetings, helping to establish a cooking/shopping schedule, assisting with free-time activities, etc. If the camp is well organized you will mostly help facilitate communication within the group. If the camp is not well organized or the work project does not meet the description, you can aid communication between the volunteers, the work project leader and the community. A successful co-leader arrives at their workcamp with a positive attitude, lots of energy, ideas for fun group activities, and a spirit determined to make the program successful.
Meet the Local Host
Your first new acquaintances will be the local host and community members who have organized the project. Get to know them and the community. Ask them if they have traveled, why they wanted to host and international group, what their hobbies are, etc. This information will help you find ways the international volunteers and community can grow together.
You are the liaison between the host and volunteers. You need to establish good lines of communication and keep them open. Some hosts expect you to do a lot, others expect very little, so be sure you understand your role! You need to be willing and able to know when to step in, where and when you are needed, and when to step back and let others take the lead. You will have a large impact on the host's willingness to have another workcamp and on the volunteers' experiences. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Visit the Accommodations (with the local host)
· What is the telephone number for the caretaker or person in charge of the building?
· Where are the light switches and outlets?
· Does the building need to be locked when the volunteers aren't there? Where do they keep the key? Is there an extra key?
· Will any other people/groups be using the building while you are there?
· Is there anywhere volunteers are not allowed to go or anything they cannot use?
· How do the dishwasher, stove, coffee maker, or other automated machines in the kitchen work?
· Are there showers in the building? If not, where are they and when do you have access?
· Is there a telephone for emergencies? If not, where is the closest public telephone?
· Make a list of emergency telephone numbers including ambulance, fire, and police and post it where all can see. Be sure the location of your accommodation is also noted.
· How do you dispose of garbage? Can you compost? What do you do with recyclables?
· Where is the First Aid Kit? Is it missing any important supplies? Be sure that you bring it with you to the work site if there is not one there.
· Little things, like keeping public areas tidy, can help to increase trust and respect with the host and volunteers.
Food & Supplies
How will the shopping for the camp work? Sometimes the host likes to do all the shopping and arrange donations. Another option is to provide a certain amount of cash to volunteers to buy supplies. In this case, they should be informed about the budget and asked to purchase staple food items that will be used by the entire group.
You will need to work with the host and volunteers to be sure adequate food is available and to conserve funds. It is important that expenses stay within the host's budget. Make sure you understand how much the group can spend.
· You should always ask for a receipt and return all receipts and accounting to the host.
· It is helpful to create a list of volunteers’ suggestions for food purchases (you don't always have to purchase the items depending on their cost and availability.)
· If the host has solicited donations ask what they are and when they will arrive or if you will need to arrange to pick them up.
Meet the Work Leader & Visit the Work Site
· What time do they want the vols to arrive in the morning and how long do they expect them to work?
· Do you need to bring lunch with you to the work site? Is there refrigeration or a cooler you can use at the worksite? Will community members prepare lunches? What is the work and break schedule?
· Are there enough jobs and tools for the volunteers? It is often helpful to make a list of all tools donated and where they came from so you can be sure nothing is lost.
· Does it look like there is enough work to keep everyone busy? Has any needed preparation been completed? Are there indoor projects in case of rain?
· Remind the work leader to show volunteers the correct way to use tools and to cover safety techniques. A work training and orientation session should be planned for the first workday. If safety wear is needed be sure it is available and volunteers know when and how to use it.
Preparing for the Volunteers
· Be sure there is someone at the telephone number that was listed on the workcamp information sheet for the entire arrival day.
· Can you walk to the bus or train station to greet volunteers? Will the host pick them up?
· You will need several pieces of poster board and markers to make signs. It is nice to have a camp journal and materials for volunteers to make collages or write their thoughts and feelings about the program. Poster board or large pieces of paper are also helpful during discussions and evaluation sessions.
· The Calendar - It is really helpful if there is a BIG calendar on which you can put all planned activities. You can easily make one on poster board. Be sure you have the first group meeting with a list of any pre-arranged events and their times and locations. Also list any birthdays that take place during the camp (the host has this information on the volunteers’ registration forms).
· Cooking Schedule - Usually the volunteers break into two or more cooking groups and prepare meals on a rotating basis. Groups can consist of 2-5 people depending on the size of your camp, the number of meals that you will prepare each day, and the work project. If you choose to have only 2 volunteers cook each day you may decide as a group that they can leave the work project early to prepare the meal. Prepare a poster with the group numbers, but wait until the first group meeting to fill in the names because you never know how many volunteers will show. (It usually works well to have people count off (1,2,3,1,2,3) at the meeting and write their names in the groups.) It is important to remind the volunteers that they are responsible for planning the meal (they need to let you know in advance if they will need special ingredients), preparing, and cleaning up. Usually one group is in charge for the whole of each day. Breakfast usually just involves putting out food and making coffee and lunch is simple and may be made by each volunteer. Still, the group for the day needs to do all dishes, put away leftovers and clean the kitchen.
· Cleaning Schedule - This is an area where a lot of resentment occurs because everyone has a different level of tolerance for clean or dirty areas. Yes, volunteers will need to clean the bathrooms, sweep floors, mop, etc. You should decide at your group meeting how to delegate these jobs. Sometimes the group cooking is also responsible for cleaning. Other times you might be able to assign a person or group to clean every few days. Alternatively, you can have a different volunteer responsible for cleaning each day. It is important to be sure that the same person is not always cleaning and to stress that the group must clean to a level all are comfortable with.
The Volunteers Arrive
Be aware that volunteers will probably be very tired after their travel and their language abilities will be low at this point. Greet each one personally so that they know you are the coordinator, and introduce them to the host if available. Find out if there are any special diets, religions, sleeping or health requirements. Let volunteers relax and get acquainted with their surroundings. Do not plan any additional activities close to arrival time, as the volunteers will be very tired.
Be sure there is some food on hand that is easy to prepare when volunteers arrive (sandwich meats, prepared lasagna, fruit, etc.) Often volunteers arrive early in the morning or late at night. Sometimes people from the local community will cook a few dishes that can easily be heated. Prepare the first meal without the volunteers help. You may be able to get a donation from a local restaurant, have community members prepare a potluck, or purchase a ready-made dish.
Group Orientation Meeting
Depending on the camp schedule and the volunteers’ arrival, this meeting can be held either the first evening or the next day (the sooner the better). The host and work leaders should be present and participate as much as possible. Feel free to delegate topics to them. It is important to remember that many of your volunteers may have just arrived, have jet lag, not yet be comfortable with their English, and may feel overwhelmed. It is good to go over some of these topics at future meetings as needed. Some areas to cover are as follows:
· Introductions of the volunteers to each other and group icebreakers (suggestions in Appendix B)
· Local host and community introductions. It is good to discuss possible free time activities and have someone write them down so the group knows their options.
· Work leader and project introductions. Be sure that the work leader talks about the importance of the job, who will benefit, what types of work the volunteers will be doing, where you will work, how long you will work, etc.
· Telephone Calls - Volunteers should NOT have free access to the telephone. If they want to make calls they should purchase a calling card. Be sure that your volunteers understand this - we have had many hosts who neglected this issue and were left with large telephone bills!
· Review Host or Workcamp Rules, if any, and talk about the need to respect them. Talk about local drinking and smoking ages. Decide on a quiet time for the evening and talk about what time volunteers will need to get up.
· Meals/Cooking Schedule - Are there any vegetarians or people with special dietary needs? Discuss the cooking groups and decide on meal times. Should the volunteers preparing dinner be allowed to leave the work project early? How many days in advance do you need to be notified about special ingredients that are required?
· Insurance/Safety - Most accidents happen at the end of the day when volunteers are tired, when people are showing off or participating in "risk taking" behavior. All international volunteers are covered either by workcamp insurance or host insurance. US volunteers are not covered by this insurance. Review any safety concerns particular to the area or work project – e.g., unsafe areas of the city, transportation, emergency numbers, etc.
· Recycling - Find out the local regulations and explain them to the volunteers. Be sure all recyclables are washed!!! Making a poster to explain the system sometimes helps.
· Calendar - Go over any planned activities on the calendar.
Additional Co-Leader Tasks
· Information Center - You are the first person that volunteers will come to with questions. Find out where the local grocery stores are located. Where is the Laundromat, what are the hours, and how much does it cost? If you can bring a basic cookbook or first aid manual they will be used. Where is the closest telephone? Where can you buy calling cards? The more you know the better.
· Daily meetings - It is good to have a meeting each day at a set time to review the work project/progress, talk about upcoming activities, and address any issues that may arise in the group. Have volunteers share what they like and dislike about the work, living arrangements, food, and free-time activities. The Co-leader does not have to lead each meeting if they don't want to. Sometimes it works well to have a different person lead the meeting each time so everyone gets an opportunity. You may want the host, work leader, or community members to attend or lead some meetings. Keep your eyes and ears open, you may want to raise issues that you know are brewing but no one is addressing.
· Study Theme - You may need to encourage volunteers and the host to have at least one meeting where you talk about the theme of the camp and exchange information. See if the host can invite local people who have experience or good ideas to share. This can be very informal but is an important part of the workcamp. If there is not a study theme you can decide as a group on a theme that interests you and invite community members to come and explore it with you.
· Community Involvement - You can work with the host, work leader, and community members to arrange activities. Make suggestions of things the volunteers like to do. Some communities are more receptive than others, but outreach is usually necessary to make the connections. Usually you will find that people are curious and hospitable, once you and the volunteers extend yourselves in a friendly way.
· Press Coverage - VFP wants to have as much press coverage as possible. Talk to the host or work leader about getting a story in the local paper or on TV. Offer to help call local reporters. Ask us for newsletters and other informational material to help explain the workcamp philosophy. Please be sure to get an extra copy of any articles to send to VFP for our scrapbook!
· Safety - Keep your eyes open for safety hazards. Is the kitchen clean, all food refrigerated, fruits & vegetables washed before use? Are volunteers wearing proper shoes and clothes during the work project? Is safety gear being used? If a volunteer becomes sick you may want to relieve them of their cooking duty. Be sure to know if anyone in your camp has allergies and what you should do if they have a reaction. (Their health information is listed on their registration form.)
· Medical - You will need to be sure that the insurance forms are properly completed and returned to VFP if any accident occurs. Forms and instructions have been sent to the host.
· Problem Volunteers - In rare cases there is a volunteer who just doesn't belong in a workcamp environment. Usually the group will notice this and try to understand the problem and resolve the issues. If all fails, the host does have the right to ask the volunteer to leave the camp. VFP must be notified before this action is taken.
· Appreciation - It is nice for the volunteers to show their appreciation to the hosts, work leaders, and community members at the end of the camp. Bring this up at group meetings so the volunteers have time to think of ideas. (Suggestions: Take a group picture and have copies made that all sign, make a collage with notes from the volunteers, invite people to a thank-you dinner or dessert party.)
· Workcamp Feedback – VFP will send evaluation forms to the volunteers and the workcamp host. As the co-leader, you should remind everyone to complete these forms and return them on time. It may be helpful to organize some feedback activities (suggestions follow) to help the host, volunteers and you to understand the areas of the camp that were good and those which could be improved. You may want to have two different feedback meetings, one where the host and project leader are present and one where they are not. Volunteers may feel more comfortable addressing issues if they are alone.
Ø Volunteer Reports: These will be sent directly to the volunteers at the workcamp address. Encourage volunteers to fill these out during the last 2 days of the camp. Please be sure that each volunteer has completed a form and that the forms have all been sent back to VFP. These are very useful to us when evaluating projects and making improvements for the future.
Ø Host/Workcamp Report – VFP will also send the host organizer a report form to be completed at the end of each workcamp session. Please help us to insure that it is completed and returned. You can offer to assist the host in completing the report.
Ø Co-Leader Report - At the end of the workcamp you must complete a report on your workcamp experience. It is important to give your personal feelings as well as what the group thought about the project. An honest, critical assessment is valuable to all concerned. It will not be helpful to the sponsor or us if everything is "whitewashed". The co-leader’s and host’s reports are the only official records of the workcamp, and should give a clear picture of the situation from all angles. You should try to assess the results of the workcamp and its effect on the community it was trying to help and assess the experience of the volunteers. Information on your relationship with the host is also very important.
Fun Ways to Get Feedback
· Up and Down: One end of the room, playing field, or lawn indicates extremely good and the other end extremely bad. Make a list of areas to evaluate (accommodation, work, community involvement, study theme, cooking, etc). As you call out each category, the volunteers position themselves in the room according to their opinion. Afterwards you can sit in a circle and discuss the areas that were particularly good or bad.
· Smiles and Frowns: Take two large pieces of paper. Draw a large smiley face on one, and a frown on the other. Have volunteers sit in a circle and take turns naming one thing they felt was very positive and one thing they would have improved. Write these items on the appropriate face. After everyone has made a contribution you can talk about creative ways to improve the project and ways to insure the positive aspects remain in the future.
· Dartboard: Draw a large circle and divide it into segments, like a dartboard. Around the outer edge write the areas you want to discuss. Volunteers place an "X" for each aspect, near the center if it was good and near the outside if it needed improvement. Again, you should talk about the results at the end.
You will probably have to address at least one conflict during your camp. Conflicts are generally the result of misunderstanding, lack of knowledge and lack of communication. From time to time you should have evaluation sessions that allow an analysis of the situation and often help uncover conflicts and possible ways to deal with them. (Evaluation ideas are listed in the previous section.) If you or any camp member doesn't like something, talk about it! Conflicts between any individuals must be understood as problems for the whole camp and everyone can help to solve them. As the leader you need to be alert and watch for situations where frustration may be growing but the volunteers aren't addressing it. You may need to make an effort to talk to a volunteer alone and find out what is bothering them. You can also have a book or a box where volunteers can put concerns/questions/interests to be discussed at the next meeting.
Conflicts that frequently develop in camps:
· Prejudices against different nationalities - These are especially hard to deal with because nobody is willing to confess that she/he is prejudiced and would rather discuss this on a "theoretical" level. (Ex: "I cannot talk with this person because I don't understand her/his language well enough.") It is the aim of international workcamps to overcome such prejudices. This can only be achieved through intense communication on a basis of common interests.
· Outsiders - Occasionally there will be members of a workcamp who just don't fit in to the group and remain either alone or as a smaller, isolated group. It could be a language problem. It could be a personality issue. It could be an age difference. You should try to bring them into the group if possible. You could try to have them work with 1 or 2 other people during the day, effectively reducing the size of the group for a short time. Other times it is best to just let them be on their own. Perhaps there are tasks that need to be done that are suitable for one or two people.
· Language Barriers - You may have some volunteers who speak little or no English. Is there another volunteer who can speak her/his language and interpret? Try non-verbal activities (games, sport, music, pantomime) and point out and demonstrate as much as possible when explaining work and other activities.
· Age Difference - A pronounced age discrepancy may lead to problems in the camp. Most volunteers in any given workcamp are between 18-30. Sometimes there will be volunteers in their late 30's, or 40's or 50's, etc. Make every effort to include them in all of the activities of the camp, and even look to them for insight and advice, when appropriate.
· Different Energy Levels - Frustrations can occur when volunteers feel that they are not all participating equally in the work project. Some people need more breaks than others, some want to work longer, others need to know why their task is important and focus more on the education and information exchange. These issues need to be addressed before resentment arises. Sometimes you can delegate work projects to meet individual needs, other times the group may have to firmly ask for more cooperation from a volunteer. Be flexible and try to see both sides. Allow volunteers personal space when needed.
· Differing Opinions - You are living and working with a very diverse group. Issues may arise based on different customs, religions, morals, gender roles and political opinions. Talking is the key to understanding.
· Frustration with the Work - A lack of work or work-related frustrations will have a negative impact on all other aspects of the camp. Occasionally, the reality of the work does not meet with the volunteers’ expectations, or there is not enough work, or the schedule is not well prepared/supervised by the sponsor. These situations may be avoided by clear and precise agreements with the host and work project leader either before or during the workcamp. If projects need to be altered at any time the work leader must explain why and be sure that the new work is needed and as fulfilling as possible.
Icebreakers & Group Games
1) Names: Volunteers introduce themselves one after the other, connecting their names to a gesture, movement, characteristic, animal or object name. Players then repeat the preceding players' names & _____ in succession and add their own at the end. Examples: Susie Sunshine, Hugo Hamster, Wendy (wave). Some players may use a movement, gesture or mime after their name instead of a word.
2) Introductions: Volunteers pair off, preferably with someone from a different country. The pairs ask each other questions (where do you live, do you have brothers/sisters, what is your favorite food…) for about 5 minutes. Then the volunteers come back together and then introduce the person they just talked with to the group.
3) Hot Potato: Find a ball, potato, apple or other object. Volunteers sit/stand in a circle. The person with the potato names a place and then throws the potato to a person from that place. You can start with general places like Europe and as you learn where people are from move to more concrete places like France or Lyon. This game can be played with other categories, such as saying a person's name, favorite food, eye color, etc. As you get to know each other the game becomes more fun and more difficult.
4) Knot Game: Players stand in a circle, shoulder to shoulder, with their eyes closed and hands stretched out towards the center of the circle. Each person tries to find two unknown hands (from two different people, not your neighbor). Then players open their eyes and try to disentangle themselves, without letting go of each other's hands. This can take time and patience, but it is a great exercise in teamwork and communication!
5) Stacking Chairs: Everyone stands in a line, one behind the other, with the smallest person in front and tallest in back. On the count of 3, the tallest person sits down on a chair while everyone else sits down on the legs of the person behind. If you succeed, try to get up again on the count of 3. To make it more difficult, do it in a circle, with no chair.
6) Circle of Trust: Stand in a circle shoulder to shoulder. One person stands in the middle of the circle, with their eyes closed, and swings back and forth. He/she is caught by the other people who reach out from the circle and pass him/her on. (If you have a large group, you may need to split into 2-3 groups to ensure the appropriate size circle).
7) Charades: It is good to have a theme each time you play this game or it tends to get too hard. One possibility is to have everyone contribute two names of public figures. Each volunteer writes the names on scraps of paper which are collected in a basket or hat. One volunteer starts by picking a name and acting, drawing or giving clues until another volunteer guesses the person. The person who guesses goes next. If a volunteer doesn't know who a person is just put that piece back in the basket and pick another. You will get names from Margaret Thatcher to Donald Duck to Superman to Bob Dylan.
Additional reading list
Before the workcamp begins VFP will send you a list with the volunteers names, sex/age, and countries they are coming from. You may find it helpful to pick up an international newspaper or look on the Internet for interesting events that may be taking place in the countries you have represented. Our board members also suggest the following books. Please let us know if you have additions to this list.
Experiential Activities for Intercultural Learning, edited by H. Ned Seelye (vol. 1 of a series.) Intercultural Press, 1996.
Developing Intercultural Awareness: A Cross-Cultural Training Handbook, by L. Robert Kohls and John M. Knight. Intercultural Press, 1994.
Cooperative Sports and Games Book, by T. Orlick. Pantheon Books, 1982.
Barnga: A Simulation Game on Cultural Clashes, by Sivasailam Thiagarajan and Barbara Steinwachs. Intercultural Press, 1989.
The Art of Crossing Cultures, by Craig Storti. Intercultural Press, 1990.
Cross-Cultural Dialogues: 74 Brief Encounters with Cultural Difference, by Craig Storti. Intercultural Press, 1994.
People Skills, by Robert Bolton. Simon & Schuster, 1986.
How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.
Intercultural Press has a catalogue and you can order on approval. Tel: 207/846-5168; Website: www.interculturalpress.com