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Wilderness Volunteers

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you still running projects during the COVID pandemic?

Short answer: it depends! We have reviewed our procedures and have developed new COVID-19 guidelines for our leaders and volunteers to mitigate the new risks COVID-19 presents. These new guidelines include but are not limited to wearing masks when in group areas, physical distancing on projects when possible, enhanced sanitation and food preparation precautions, enhanced screening procedures, and new topic-specific leader training. We have also implemented a COVID-19 Pre-Project Health Screen Questionnaire that volunteers will need to complete and return to the office prior to their service project. We are assessing each scheduled project on a case-by-case basis as the project date approaches and will make determinations about whether individual projects will field based on the results of those reviews. Because of the dynamic nature of the pandemic and the constantly evolving situation projects may be cancelled with relatively short notice. If Wilderness Volunteers has to cancel a project registered participants are eligible for a full refund per our cancellation policy.

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 a couple of full time staff in order to run our program. We pay for project food, leader training, liability insurance, web hosting, cooking equipment, first-aid kits, for leader expenses and other field expenses. 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 through fundraising.

How much do the trips cost?

The project fee for 2021 trips is $375. 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 (just pay shipping or they can be picked up from the Flagstaff office); let the office know several weeks before your trip.

What if I cancel after being accepted for a project?

The Cancellation Policy is here. We cannot make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason. 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.

If you are worried about the potential that you may need to cancel (and lose part or all of your project fee) please consider purchasing a travel insurance plan that covers reimbursement of your pre-paid, non-refundable expenses should you need to cancel your trip unexpectedly. You can purchase trip cancellation insurance through a travel agency, or on the web you might start with

What is the average age of participants on Wilderness Volunteers trips? 

The average age is about 60 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?

Children 16 and over can come on our projects as long as they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. Remember that these are work projects with sharp tools that require physical activity and concentration for safety. Having younger children around would be distracting and potentially create additional safety hazards. We love children, but our service trips aren't the appropriate place for those under 16.

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.

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.

How do I know if I'm in good enough shape for the trip? 

Read the information about trip difficulty rating 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 projects although we will certainly 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 leaders 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. While we would love to be able to oblige everyone, it can become very difficult and time-consuming to buy special food for multiple trip members on one project. It is up to the individual project leaders to decide if they are able to accommodate applicants with 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 our projects. 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 projects are open to beginners in good shape, however the projects that are rated challenging might require previous backpacking experience. Check the project descriptions for more information.

How can I become a volunteer leader for Wilderness Volunteers?

Do a project! We choose our leaders from project 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 camping stoves, risk management, leadership styles, and Leave No Trace training (see Project Schedule). Folks who complete a Leader Training Project sucessfully are invited to join our incredibly talented pool of volunteer leaders. The project fee for the Leader Training Project will be returned in full once you have led your first project. Alternatively, prospective leaders with significant experience can be assigned as an assistant on a project with a senior staff member to help them become comfortable in their new role. If they get a good review on this project, we may invite them to begin leading trips for WV, although we encourage participation in the Leader Training Project.