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Frequently Asked Questions

Hey, why do volunteers have to pay to work? While we understand this sentiment, consider that we spend time and money to arrange the trips, to advertise them, and to maintain an office where the participants are registered for the trips. We pay for liability insurance, for web hosting, for cooking equipment and food, for leader expenses and other field expenses. Many items are donated including volunteer time, utilities, office space and computers. We run the program on a shoestring, and work hard to keep expenses down. It actually costs us more per participant than we charge, but so far we've been able to make up the difference with fundraising.

How much do the trips cost? 2014 trips cost $299. All food and commissary equipment is provided. Participants must get themselves to the trip, and supply their personal backpacking/camping gear. We do have several two-person tents we can lend to participants who need tents.

What if I cancel after being accepted for a project? The Cancellation Policy is here. If you cancel more than 30 days out from the project start, you can transfer to another project in the same calendar year without penalty.

What is the average age of participants on Wilderness Volunteers trips? The average age is about 45 with a range of 18 to 75+. Trips in spring and fall tend to have an older demographic, and trips in the summer tend to have a younger average.

Why do you ask when I got my last tetanus shot on the application?
Working outside exposes us to soil and rusty objects, which is where the bacteria that cause tetanus live. If you get a small cut or scratch, it could be really inconvienent to have to go back to the nearest clinic just to get a booster, so it's best to be current.

Can I bring my children? No, the minimum age to do a WV trip is 18. These are work trips using sharp tools, requiring physical activity and concentration for safety. Having children around would distract us from the work project and create a safety hazard. We love children, but our service trips aren't the appropriate place for them.

Does everyone come with a partner? No, while each trip typically has a couple or two, most folks come to the trip alone.

I can't be there for the entire trip. Is it okay if I leave early? The focus of WV service trips is the work project. There is no provision for leaving early or arriving late. If you can't do the whole trip, please don't sign up.

Can I bring my dog? Pets are not allowed on Wilderness Volunteers trips.

Do you provide transportation? No, the trips begin and end at the trailhead or trip meeting spot. You are responsible for getting yourself to and from the trip. We are prohibited from arranging transportation for participants. We do send out a roster to everyone signed up for the trips, and it is common for them to arrange to carpool or share rental cars.

How do I know if I'm in good enough shape for the trip? Read the information about trip grades and fill out your application completely. Our staff will assess your fitness level and experience as compared to the trip you want to do and let you know if the trip doesn't seem right for you. We use the Body Mass Index (BMI) when looking at height/weight ratios. You can find your BMI here . If you have a BMI over 28, you will probably be turned down for most of the trips although we will look at your experience in the outdoors and what you do regularly to stay in shape. We are looking for fit, healthy participants who are used to being active and ready to work all day.

What is the food like on the trips? Most folks are pleasantly surprised by the variety of food on our trips. While the food choices are dictated by the type of trip (more fresh food on car-camping trips vs. more dried food on backpacking trips), our leaders have a good deal of experience cooking on backcountry trips.

Can you accommodate vegetarians? What about people who are allergic to various foods? Our staff members are happy to provide non-meat options for each meal, however, if you are a strict vegan, the leader might want to talk to you about your restrictions before the trip. Additionally, if you have food allergies to common food items, the leader will want to talk to you and figure out if it will be possible, in the venue of the trip, to fit you in. It can become pretty expensive and time-consuming to buy special food for one trip member and it might not be possible to oblige everyone. It is up to the project leaders if they are able to accommodate food restrictions.

Do I need to have experience doing trail maintenance? Do I need to have camping/backpacking experience?
No, as long as you are in good shape and have a good attitude and a willingness to learn, you are welcome on the trips. There is usually a variety of tasks on each trip and we encourage folks to take turns and try all of them. Most of the trips are open to beginners in good shape, however the trips that are rated challenging might require previous backpacking experience. Check the trip descriptions.

How can I become a volunteer leader for Wilderness Volunteers? Do a project! We choose our leaders from trip participants, both from their own interests and through the recommendation of current leaders. We look for folks with significant outdoor experience who are both competent and confident in outdoor settings. After being recommended by current leaders, we invite them to attend our annual Leader Training Project with sessions on planning, cooking for groups on tiny stoves, risk management, leadership styles, and Leave No Trace training (see Project Schedule). Folks who complete the Leader Training Projects sucessfully are invited to join our incredibly talented volunteer staff. The trip fee for the Leader Training Project will be returned in full once you have led your first project. Alternatively, prospective leaders can be assigned as an assistant on a trip with a senior staff member to help them become comfortable in their new role. If they get a good review on this trip, we may invite them to begin leading trips for WV, although we encourage participation in the Leader Training Project.