Volunteer / Mentor
A quote from one of our leaders from the 2011 Summer Trip:
"I was blown away and very impressed by the students I worked with. Their desire for change and to do better and be better for themselves was inspiring. They showed me that I set lower expectations for my students back home, than what they are capable of actually achieving. These teens taught me that if you set the bar, they'll reach it, as long as you are guiding, encouraging, and helping them get there! I've already implemented these things into my classroom this year, and can easily say that I've had the best start to my school year than I've ever had! Thank you Woods Project for your mission, your passion, your dedication, and your inspiration. I am truly changed and impacted because of it, and was reminded of some valuable insights this summer with you all, that I had slightly lost sight of along the way."
So, are you someone that wants to make a difference in the lives of others? Do you enjoy being in the outdoors? Join us as a Volunteer/Mentor.
So you think you want to serve as a Volunteer / Mentor for The Woods Project?
Our volunteer/mentors come from all walks of life and range from 21 to 75 years old. Many are teachers who have free time in the summer. Some are retired or semi-retired people who are physically ready for outdoor challenges. The common denominator is that all have a great love of the outdoors, and find great enjoyment in seeing kids blossom before their eyes!
Our volunteer/mentors have a passion about what they do and come away with fantastic memories of an experience that changes their lives as much as it changes the lives of our program youth. Our goal is to provide an outstanding experience for both our students and our leaders. Most volunteer to participate in the two-week summer session. Many also accompany groups of 20-25 students on fall and spring camping and service projects near Houston as well.
Volunteer / Mentor Responsibilities – Summer Session
Most of our volunteers/mentors split their time, spending one week backpacking with one or two other volunteer leaders and 10-12 students, and the other in the camp. Others choose to spend the whole time in the dorms at one of our camps.
A primary goal of The Woods Project is to develop student leadership and initiative, and, to that end, we ask our leaders to teach and not do; to show the students how to do a task and then step back. Guide, but let them earn success with the activity whether it is doing the dishes, cooking breakfast, setting the hiking pace, etc.
In camp, our Wilderness Partners are responsible for the students from after breakfast through the end of the field work day- typically 4 pm. They are also responsible for after-dinner programming. Although our Wilderness Partners have primary responsibility during those times, our volunteer/mentors participate as well, with secondary responsibility.
Our Wilderness Partner personnel are all degreed wilderness educators, ranging in age from 23 to 35, with degrees in environmental education or a germane science. All have experience in working with high school students. They are adept at educational as well as bonding activities and are very happy to utilize our leaders’ expertise in their programming.
Day-time activities typically include 3-6 miles of hiking/wilderness travel, as well as geology/biology/history exploration and study. As a Woods Project leader, you have the opportunity, but not the responsibility, to participate in delivering the program. You will accompany the students on the daily activities and assist our Wilderness Partner leader as needed. Substantially all of the activities involve exploring the wilderness. A small percentage of the program activities may involve a classroom setting.
Our Volunteers / Mentors supervise the students at all times that the students are not under the direct management of our wilderness partner. Each camp will have a Woods Project Relationship Manager who will be responsible for overall tone setting and supporting our leaders as required. The Relationship Manager is typically a teacher/administrator from one of our Partner Schools who has been on a previous Woods Project summer program and is familiar with behavioral expectations and program tone. At night, Volunteer / Mentors stay with the students in the dorms.
Backpack trips are 100% under the control of The Woods Project leaders and volunteer/mentors. No Wilderness Partner personnel are involved in the backpack portion of the experience. Each backpack group has two or three adult leaders. The trips with two adult leaders will also have a student leader. Each trip will have at least one leader who is Wilderness First Aid certified. Backpack trips are all five night events, averaging about six miles per day, with one or two mountain passes as part of the trip. You must be in shape to handle some physical rigor. To date, every Woods Project backpack trip has had some period of time where the students are able to hike/play in the snow – a new experience for most.
Contact us for more information. We guarantee that all of our volunteer/mentors will have a life changing experience and come away reaffirmed in the love of the outdoors and the future of our kids!