Frequently Asked Questions

Getting started

Should I sign up for a trip? Which trip is right for me?

Are you still running projects during the COVID pandemic?

Short answer: yes – with additional health and safety precautions! 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.

How much do the trips cost?

We are proud to offer our weeklong service trips for only $375! This is a fraction of the cost that many other conservation organizations charge for their service trips, and we are working hard to keep our trips affordable for you! Trip costs include all food and commissary equipment – and an experience that can’t be beat!

Why do volunteers have to pay to work?

Wilderness Volunteers provides low cost trips that connect people like you with hands-on volunteer opportunities to give back to the places they love the most! Our small staff work hard to plan and advertise our trips to ensure our volunteers and public land agency partners have the most rewarding and impactful experience possible. We cover all of the food for each trip, cooking equipment, first aid kits, leader training, liability insurance, and other field expenses. Our trips actually cost more per participant than we charge, but we are committed to keeping our trip costs low to be accessible to as many people as possible! If you are unable to pay the full trip price, we do have a Scholarship Program – and more information can be found here.

Can I bring my pet with me on a project?

Pets are not allowed on Wilderness Volunteers projects for the safety of the animal, volunteers, and agency personnel. This is also in accordance with partnering agency policies.  

Does everyone come with a partner?

While we usually have a couple or two on each trip, most folks come on our trips alone. Wilderness Volunteers trips are a great opportunity to meet like-minded people from across the country who share a love of the outdoors!

Can I bring my children?

While we all love getting kids out in nature, unfortunately our service trips aren’t a safe place for children under 16. Many of our projects involve working with sharp tools that require concentration for everyone’s safety. Children 16 and over are welcome to join on our trips if they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

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

Our trip participants range in age from 18 to 75+, with an average age around 60 years old. Trips in the spring and fall tend to have an older demographic, and summer trips tend to have a younger average.

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

Be sure to pay attention to the “difficulty rating” for your trip and read the full explanation of that rating here. We always say that we have no easy trips! All trips require varying degrees of physical activity, including long day hikes or backpacking, bending, lifting, and working several hours each day with tools. Be prepared for full days of activity! 

We also urge our participants to fill out their trip application thoroughly and honestly. Our staff will assess your fitness level and experience to make sure the trip you signed up for is a good fit. We want our trips to be safe and enjoyable for all volunteers, and that means picking the right one for your fitness level!

Do I need to have experience doing trail maintenance? Do I need to have camping/backpacking experience?

No experience needed (for most of our trips)! Most trips are open to beginners who are in good shape and have a good attitude and willingness to learn! Make sure you have read the trip details and difficulty rating to make sure the trip is a good fit for you. Trips that are rated “challenging” may require previous backpacking experience. A great way to gain more camping and backpacking experience for more difficult trips is to join one with an “Active” rating first!

Logistics & Planning

I want to sign up! What else do I need to know?

Do you provide transportation?

Wilderness Volunteers does not provide transportation to and from our service trips. Trips begin and end at the designated trailhead or trip meeting spot. Due to insurance reasons, we are actually prohibited from arranging your transportation! However, our Volunteer Trip Leaders and staff can help answer your transportation questions!

Where do we sleep? Do we bring our own tents?

Most of our trips set up a base camp where participants will camp in tents, and other trips require backpacking into a campsite with your tent and other gear. (Check your trip details!) We ask participants to bring their own personal backpacking or camping gear, including tents, sleeping pads, and sleeping bags. We do have several two-person tents that we can lend to trip participants who are willing to pay for shipping or pick up at our Flagstaff office. Please let us know several weeks in advance of your trip if you need us to ship you a tent!

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 inconvenient to have to go back to the nearest clinic just to get a booster, so it’s best to be current!

I can't be there for the entire trip. Is it okay if I leave early?

Our trips are designed to provide our public land agency partners with reliable and hard work for the duration of our trip to help them achieve their goals, so we unfortunately cannot accommodate late arrivals or early departures. Be sure to sign up for a trip that works for your schedule so you can enjoy the full experience!

What if I cancel after being accepted for a project?

We understand that plans change and things come up! If you cancel more than 30 days prior to your trip start date, you can transfer to another project in the same calendar year without penalty. Unfortunately, within 30 days of the trip, we cannot transfer or refund your trip fee if you need to cancel. 

If you are worried about possibly needing to cancel your trip (and lose your project fee), we recommend 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 online through a website such as www.insuremytrip.com.

Trip Details

Okay, I’m going on a trip! I still have some questions!

What is the food like on the trips?

Delicious! 🙂 Most folks are pleasantly surprised by the variety of food on our trips. The food choices are partially determined by the type of trip (we are able to offer more fresh food on car camping trips vs. more dried food on backpacking trips). Our trip leaders have a great deal of experience cooking on backcountry trips and strive to bring a variety of options to make everyone a happy camper!

Can you accommodate vegetarians? What about people who have food allergies?

Our trip leaders are happy to provide non-meat options for each meal! If you are a strict vegan or have food allergies to common food items, the trip leader will want to chat with you about any restrictions prior to the trip. We would love to be able to meet everyone’s dietary needs, but it can become very difficult to purchase and prepare special food for multiple trip members on one project, so the trip leader reserves final discretion on whether they can accommodate all food restrictions. Although Wilderness Volunteers does provide all food for trip members, if this is a barrier to joining a trip, we welcome you to bring your own food that will meet your needs!

How many days do we work? Are there any “free” days?

Every project varies, so it’s always best to check the project details for your trip to see the itinerary and additional information. In general, projects are a week long, with four work days, one “free” day for exploring, and a day of setting up and wrapping up on either end of the trip. Most trips do have time for resting or exploring the area!

How can I become a volunteer leader for Wilderness Volunteers?

Join us on a trip! 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 successfully 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.

Support Wilderness Volunteers!

Wilderness Volunteers is cultivating a passion for Wilderness! We are a national nonprofit organizing volunteers for stewardship projects in cooperation with public land agencies across the USA.