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Budget Volunteer Vacations: Hiking the Beautiful Mountains of Washington State

As part of our on-going series, Budget Volunteer Vacations , we spotlight low cost, no frills volunteer travels to various destinations around the world. These trips do not include airfare, but meals and lodging are often included at no cost or for a minimal cost of $100-$200. These trips are great add-ons to your vacations!

Looking for a low-cost, challenging, and fun volunteer vacation this year? Washington Trails Association (WTA) hosts week-long work parties for adults, teens and families. For $150 ($125 for WTA member) they will provide you with a week of fun, food and some trail work. You will be camping. The projects have different difficulty levels based on the initial hike to the base camp.

Photo: WTA

You will work from Sunday to Friday, except Wednesday which is your day off. A typical day’s schedule:

6:30 to 7:00am – Rise n’ shine, make your lunch with the lunch goodies
7:00am – Breakfast is served, please be on time!
7:30 to 8:00am – Clean-up from breakfast (dishes, put food away, etc).
8:00 to 8:30am – Leave for the work site
8:30 to 9:00am – Begin work on the project
9:00 to noon – Continue work, stopping periodically for breaks.
Noon – Lunch – take at least a 30 min. lunch break, probably longer to recuperate and enjoy the fresh mountain air!
After lunch to 3:00ish. Continue working, stopping periodically for breaks. Depending on the difficulty of the project and the weather, the “end” time may vary from day to day. Don’t overwork!
3:00 to 4:00 Back to camp for salty snacks and Gatorade.
4:00 to 5:00 Unwind and freshen up – find a stream or lake to put your feet (or body) in, take quick snooze, find a tree to read under, go fishing, etc.
5:00 to 6:00 Social Hour, hang out , help with dinner, talk about the day or just continue with your nap.
6:00 to 7:00 Dinner time. Enjoy a big plate of fresh, hot food.
After dinner – A few volunteers for clean-up and dishes. After that, you’re free to go back to your tent (although you may be heckled if you try to turn in before 8pm!)

During the summer, WTA hosts youth volunteer vacations for high school students. First-time participants learn all about the world of building and maintaining hiking trails, experienced in a safe, teamwork-oriented environment in various locations near the ocean in the scenic Cascade Mountains and in Northeast Washington, known as Front Country.

Photo: K. Dooley

For families who want to experience a week on the trail, WTA offers one family volunteer vacation in early August. The family program is designed for families with children ages 10-14 who are interested in the outdoors and seeking a fun and memorable experience.

Check out www.wta.org/volunteer/vacations for the 2009 schedule and volunteer FAQs. These trips are filling up fast!

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