What is an international workcamp ?

Posted on 2014-08-28 12:53:20 by Céline

What is an international workcamp?

The term "international workcamp" or "youth workcamp" is not, as many people think, synonymous with "reconstruction" or "management" or other words implying a purely manual job.

The workcamps consist in groups of young people from different backgrounds, who do not know each other and who wish to meet others and to live together for several weeks and to carry out a mission of international solidarity. Workcamps typically last from two weeks to several months and intend to implement projects leading to tangible results on the social, educational (NFE), cultural, artistic or environmental framework. These projects are managed in Belgium by the International Voluntary Service or in Vietnam by Vietnamese Youth Solidarity in which SVI is an independent branch. In other countries, all our projects are designed by and for local people.

The projects we support are purely non-commercial and are implemented by local organizations such as youth centers, cultural centers, environmental organizations, educational centers, youth movements and even by schools. These projects are not a way to turn volunteering into cheap labor force or to turn it into a new type of tourism for Europeans in search of adventure and clear conscience.

Volunteers are divided into groups that go from 5 to 15 people. They work about 30 hours a week. Groups are supervised by a local animator who is also a volunteer, usually a member of the host organization. In return for their work, volunteers are housed and provided for during their stay (but transportation fees are to be paid by themselves). During their free time, they will have the opportunity to visit the region with local volunteers. The internal organization of the group (both on and outside the project site), such as stewardship, requires participation, sense of responsibilities, desire to live, to work and party together!

 What can I expect from participating in an international workcamp?

The aim of joining a group of international volunteers is primarily to socialize and collaborate on a project. It is also an opportunity to discover other cultures, languages, food and customs. A workcamp is a place of learning and sharing a group experience in an international spirit and personal commitment.

During their free time, the groups of volunteers will have the opportunity to take part to activities aiming at helping them discovering the region in which they will work. Contacts with the local population are often very rewarding and allows to be integrated to the community during a few weeks. A workcamp is a different way to travel and to discover a country and its people. It is far more authentic and human than simple tourism.

To summarize, a workcamp is a unique experience and is particularly valued by employers, for example if one day you want to work as an international officer for NGOs.

Volunteering for everyone

Although a volunteering service is cheap, it is not accessible to everyone: many young people cannot afford to pay for a plane ticket or for the cost of living without any source of income for several months. That is why SVI tries to have subscription costs that are as low as possible : from 80 to 250 Euros a year. The aim is to encourage volunteers to go to workcamps as often as possible and to stay as long as possible without having to pay additional enrolling fees or having to fill up new application forms. In a close future, we hope to be able to provide volunteering service without any subscription fees.

We also encourage volunteer to join first close workcamp places to reduce their polution impact and to discover local realities.

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