Frequently Asked Questions
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Q: What is a workcamp?
A: A workcamp is a place anywhere in the world where people of all backgrounds, ideologies, and nationalities live and volunteer together for two to four weeks on a grassroots project organized by a local sponsor for non-commercial causes. Most workcamps occur during the Summer months and have between 5 and 20 international participants. You volunteer, you socialize, you cook and you work (usually no more than 6 hours during weekdays) together as an international group with local people. You are a multicultural, voluntary workforce promoting tolerance and understanding through your activism. That is a workcamp - and it works!
Q: How old do I have to be. Are there any upper age limitations?
A: You have to be at least 18 to participate in a US/Canada workcamp, 18 to participate in a foreign developed country and 21 for a third world country. There is no upper age limit except where a workcamp states specific age requirements.
Q: Do I need any special skills or language skills?
A: Workcamps are designed mostly for generalist volunteers. You do need to be aware of your physical limitations for certain types of labor intensive projects. Most camps are multi-national and English is usually the common language. If there is a language requirement it will be stated in the camp description. You are expected to participate with other volunteers in a group atmosphere; cooking together, planning activities together, working out differences together, etc.
Q: Do I need insurance?
A: You are responsible for knowing your insurance coverage, your health condition and your specific needs to have travel, health or medical evacuation insurance. Although SCI projects are usually covered by a secondary reimbursement policy, THIS IS NOT MEANT TO BE your primary insurance coverage since there are many restrictions for illness and prior condition exclusions. You are responsible for your travel expenses (including entry visa if needed) to and from the workcamp and you must seriously consider having travel insurance to accommodate your specific needs.
Q: How much is it going to cost?
A: All OVERSEAS camps are $275 Cdn. All US/CANADA camps are $100 Cdn. Note that $35 CDN is non-refundable to cover administrative costs and also goes towards a one-year IVS Canada membership. Applying for a 2nd camp OVERSEAS is $105 Cdn and applying for a 2nd camp in the US/CANADA is $60 Cdn. Payments (via Check, Money Order or online via PayPal) must be submitted with the application in order to be processed. Workcamps include shared simple housing and group self-cooked meals without additional costs unless otherwise stated in the camp description. Canadian residents should submit application and payments (in Cdn dollars) to IVS Canada and through PayPal where possible (simply set up an email account on PayPal and make your payment to: IVS Canada (same as IVS Canada) - firstname.lastname@example.org. PayPal does not charge for currency conversion).
Of the $275 Cdn, $35 Cdn goes toward promoting membership and the general structure of IVS Canada, $100 Cdn goes toward insurance and our international structure, leaving $140 CDN for running our placement office (we are all unpaid volunteers), assisting new camp hosts when required, and promoting and developing new camps across Canada. Those volunteers who submit a typed report on their workcamp experience within three months of the camp date will receive a refund of $30 Cdn. No money goes overseas because in the SCI network projects are funded (food and housing) locally by the workcamp host of each country. That means each national branch or contact offers their projects for free within the network with the understanding that applicant fee should be collected to help the sending organization
This method of financing is very decentralized, and helps to encourage the grassroots growth of the workcamps all over the world, while also characterizing the enormous voluntary contributions of communities worldwide to make this exchange in 50 countries happen without a centralized budget
We do make exceptions for some projects, especially in Latin America and Africa where extra money is needed at the project level due to specific environmental or economical causes. This is called a participation fee and is paid directly to the local workcamp host, not to IVS Canada , nor to the branch or contact overseas. Participation fees are clearly stated in the specific camp description if applicable.
Q: Why does the same SCI camp cost more than some other organizations?
A: First, see our answer above about cost and cost structure of IVS Canada . Secondly, the Canadian landscape being so vast, we more often than not, incur high costs when traveling to initiate new projects across the country. In the US , we have two partners, SCI USA and VFP USA . While SCI USA's camp costs are similar to that of IVS Canada , VFP's operates under a different cost structure with different fees. For further information, please contact us directly.
Q: Who makes travel arrangements?
A: Volunteers must arrange and pay for transportation to and from the workcamp. Please do not consider arriving late or leaving early as this is very disruptive to your host and to other volunteers. For some camps (especially for those in remote locations), a convenient pick-up point may be specified and if you miss this you may not have another way to get to the camp. Please plan your travels with care, know the stability and geography of your destination, and understand that you are ultimately responsible for all travel costs including cancel or change fees imposed by transportation companies.
Q: How about travel before and after the camp?
A: Many of our volunteers combine traveling with volunteering. In fact more often than not, following the end of a camp, volunteers travel with newfound friends.
Q: Can I participate in more than one camp?
A: Yes, you may sign up for up to three camps per season. Be sure you leave yourself enough time to get from one to another. Arriving on time and staying for the whole camp is crucial and required for camp participation.
Q: Can I go with my friend (spouse, children)?
A: In most camps no more than two people from any one country are accepted to the same camp. This is done to preserve the multi-national composition of the group. If you want to go with a friend or as a couple, be sure you sign up early and chose a camp with a larger amount of volunteers. Some camps are specifically designed for family participation and will be indicated as so.
Q: How do I become a member or make a donation?
A: Membership is $35 Cdn per year for which you will receive our newsletter and open access to for help in applying to workcamps and LTV positions. If you would like to become a member or to make a donation to help support our grassroots efforts, please send your name, address and the amount to our Ottawa address. You may also send your donation securely online via PayPal.
Q: How can I create a workcamp in Canada with IVS Canada ?
A: Contact our Office if you believe that your idea for a workcamp can satisfy these five basic requirements:
1) Projects must be service or community oriented and for non-commercial causes in which volunteers are not used to replace paid labor.
2) Projects are required to have an educational component so that volunteers understand the meaning of their service to themselves and to the host community or organization. If you are unsure of what the educational component could include, please contact our office.
3) Projects must be open to receiving at a minimum 5 volunteers from the diverse backgrounds and cultures of SCI Branches and Partner organizations worldwide (anywhere from 0 to 2 volunteers usually come from North America).
4) Projects must provide a group living area for volunteers (or billetting with local families), provide food and a cooking area, and provide a local coordinator to help facilitate the workcamp.
5) Projects should occur between June, July or August which is historically the peak Summer season for workcamp volunteers. Also, this means planning and coordination with IVS Canada should be finalized by February or March at the latest. IVS Canada will aid you logistically in learning and planning to receive and host volunteers