A day in the life

Volunteer Managers

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As well as finding out about us and the structure of the Expedition, you’re probably wondering what you will do day to day. The truth is, this will change quite a lot depending on the type of project you are on, the country you go to and role you choose.

You could go for a project-based role, leading a group of volunteers out on the project sites, or you could opt for a fieldbase role, supporting the Expedition from the country’s permanent office.

These are the key elements that make up most days as a volunteer manager on Raleigh:

Project-based role

You won’t be on your own

As a Project Manager, Adventure Project Manager, Spanish Interpreter or Medic, you’ll always have at least one other Volunteer Manager with you. When you’re on the project sites you’ll be supporting a group of around 12 young volunteers.

Volunteer Managers walk to the river to wash on a day off from digging in Nicaragua

Working as a team

A significant part of your role as Project Manager is working with your fellow Project Managers to ensure your volunteers are working well as a team throughout each project. You’ll also be facilitating the personal development of the young volunteers. Each day, regardless of which project you’re on, the volunteers will take in turns to be a day leader. As a volunteer manager you’ll be the ones to guide them through this.

Early starts

We adapt to the daily timetable of the countries we work in. This normally means waking up when the sun rises and starting work before the heat of the day. You can expect breakfast before getting on with the day ahead. If you’re staying in a homestay during a community project, breakfast could be something a bit different to what you are used to. If you’re on the environment project or adventure challenge, you’ll take it in turns to make breakfast for the team; usually porridge.

Get to work

You’ll most likely get to work quite swiftly after breakfast. This is where the average day will differ most dramatically depending on whether you are on a community or environment project, or adventure challenge.

Volunteers work with a crowbar in La Cangreja, Costa Rica

On a community or environment project you could be starting the day at the worksite. You and your team might be working on digging trenches for a gravity fed water system or building a suspension bridge for scientists in a national park. On the adventure challenge, it’ll be time to get walking! If you’re a Project Manager you’ll be there to support the young volunteers, but hand over that map and compass and let them lead the way.

If you’re a Medic you’ll be doing the same as your fellow Project Managers, plus reacting to any medical situations when necessary. Likewise, if you’re a Spanish Interpreter, you’ll be acting as a Project Manager and drawing on your Spanish skills when necessary.

Time for lunch

We tend to break for lunch early, especially if it’s a hot day. If you are staying with a local family, it will be back to theirs for lunch. If you are staying at a jungle camp, in a community centre or a park ranger’s house, you and the team will gather together and prepare your food. On trek, it’s time to get out your Raleigh rations and stock up on fuel for the afternoon’s walk.

Closeup of cooking a tortilla on a stove in Nicaragua

Relaxation

It’s not all hard work on Raleigh. There might be time during the day for a little relaxation.

On the environment and community projects, you’ll probably work 6 days a week. During your time off, you and your team will decide what to do. You might want to spend it doing a hike in the local area to a nearby viewpoint or swimming spot. If you’re lucky, your time in the community might coincide with a local festival or celebration and you’ll be able to enjoy the festivities.

Volunteers hiking in Tanzania, landscape

It’s important to talk to your fellow volunteer managers and support each other so you’re able to take some alone time when needed.

Dinner

If you’re on a community project it’s likely to be local food for dinner. Prepare yourself for plenty of rice and beans in Costa Rica and Tanzania, and rice and dhal or curry in Borneo and Nepal. If you are on a environment project or adventure challenge; you’ll be preparing your own food. We want to keep your energy up so pasta, rice or noodles will feature heavily. We don’t eat a lot of meat on Expedition but we try and make the most of the fresh fruit and vegetables available.

Team debrief and games

This is a chance to encourage your team to share their thoughts on the day. What went well; what didn’t; how could things be improved? It’s also an opportunity to think about planning for the day ahead. This is a great opportunity for the volunteers to develop their interpersonal and cultural awareness skills, with your support.

After this you might play a game, read or spend some time with your host family.

Head torches off

Whether you’re staying in a host home, community centre, tent or hammock, chances are your electricity source will be limited, at best. Your head torch will soon become a trusty friend. Most people find their body clock adapts quite quickly to the early starts; that and the lack of electricity in the evening makes early nights quite common.

Fieldbase role

You won’t be on your own

The Raleigh fieldbase is the operational hub of the Expedition. It’s usually buzzing with activity and there is often something to be done! The fieldbase team includes the Communications Officer, Photographer, Logistics Coordinators, Administrator and fieldbase Medic, as well as our permanent staff.

Working as a team

Fieldbase is a collaborative environment. For example, if the logistics staff are really busy, the fieldbase team will help them with whatever needs to be done, from organising equipment to helping out on the radios.

Volunteer Managers read a map and make plans at fieldbase in Costa Rica

Busy days and quiet days

On a normal day at fieldbase it likely that you’ll get up around 8am, have the morning meeting, start work by 9 and finish by around 5 or 6pm. On a busy day, perhaps during changeover between the projects, you could be up at 3am and working until 10pm.

Changeover

This is the period between the projects where the groups of volunteer managers and volunteers travel back to fieldbase or a training centre for 2-3 days before moving onto the next project. Changeover is a busy time for everyone, especially the fieldbase staff, as there is a lot of work to be done.

The Administrators will organise everyone’s laundry and ensure that project packs are updated. They also might set up a ‘shop’ selling Raleigh T-shirts and snacks. The Logistics Coordinators will ensure all the kit, equipment and any spare food is returned from each group, checked, and organised to be sent back out again. They will also distribute all food for the next projects.

The Communications Officer and Photographer will gather photos, case studies and blogs from the volunteer groups. And the fieldbase medic will usually set up a clinic to resolve any medical issue that the volunteers might have. Then it’s time for the volunteers to change groups, re-pack and head off to their next project.

Visiting project sites

You’ll have a chance to visit some of the project sites as part of the fieldbase team. You could be involved in dropping food and other provisions to the groups out on a trek. If you’re a Photographer or a Communications Officer you’ll often join the groups to take photos and gather content for the blogs, interviewing members of the local community or some of the volunteers.

Volunteers sawing wood during a community project in Borneo

Relaxation

It’s not all hard work on Raleigh. There is often time during the day for a little relaxation. At fieldbase you may have a day off here and there. You could explore the local town, go on a walk or to a local swimming spot with your fellow volunteer managers. It’s important to talk to your fieldbase team and support each other so you’re able to take some alone time when needed.

A volunteer sleeps in a hammock during a trek in Nicaragua

Team activities and games

This may not happen every night at fieldbase, but often there will be a chance for some team activities, games or perhaps a movie night. Sometimes it could be a debriefing activity where you will be able to share your thoughts and talk about how things are going. It’s up to you and your fieldbase team to create the environment you want, so prepare to be creative, open, and to get stuck in.

Find out more

We’re a friendly team, driven by wanting to make an impact around the world, with a soft spot for cake, camping and softball. We love nothing more than to chat about our work. Call us today on +44 (0)207 183 1295.

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