Volunteer Vicky reflects on being an Outdoor Activity Instructor in Canada

Posted on the 27th October 2017

We spoke with Lattitude returned volunteer Vicky Lyons; who volunteered in 2016/2017 at our Outdoor Activity Placement in Canada with Camp Yowochas. She gives us an idea of how it went, her feelings overall and what she recommends to future volunteers wanting to follow in her footsteps to Canada!

Vicky sums up her placement with one word – ‘Phenomenal’!

She went on to say that there was NO time when she wasn’t having a great time. Every day was a lot of fun but at the same time there was something to get from each moment.

Vicky Lyons - Outdoor Activity Placement in Canada
Canada offers some seriously breathtaking landscapes for our volunteers on placement


What do you think went well with your placement?

Apart from saying ‘the camp was perfectly suited to her’ she also added “the volunteers and staff I worked with were great as there was really good group dynamics. I also got the chance to work with children and working outdoors made me realise that for my future career path I want to be somewhere outdoors based rather than in an office environment.”

We think it is great that volunteers like Vicky, are given the opportunity to determine what they find suits them, for their future careers through our placements.

As with most placements there are always things that the volunteers find challenging and that push them out of their comfort zone. This helps them to challenge their ideas and find growth in meaningful situations. However with Vicky she found that ‘nothing did not go well’ but the challenges she faced in placement were  learning more of the technical things like using ropes, tying knots whilst having fun with it at the same time. During her placement she was also able to come into contact with staff that had already been placed longer and were able to ‘show her the ropes’; as well as become a social base for her to go to.

Vicky Lyons - Outdoor Activity Placement in Canada
Vicky say’s that ‘the camp was perfectly suited to her’


Looking back, is there any further pre-programme information you feel Lattitude should have provided you with?

We asked her to give feedback on what she felt Lattitude could have done to ‘pre-prepare’ her for the programme. Vicky says that ‘she doesn’t think there was, I was always satisfied and nothing would have made a difference because I always felt like I could ask questions throughout’.

This is a great tip for volunteers thinking of doing the same, we encourage volunteers to find growth and development personally in our placements by being open and honest about any questions they may have during their time there.

Vicky Lyons - Outdoor Activity Placement in Canada
Placements are a great opportunity to grow individually and socially with a network of volunteers


What advice and support did the Lattitude team in-country offer you during your placement?

“Lattitude were very good at providing information about safety and about how to make the most of the opportunity (at the orientation), which I really appreciated. The orientation was good at motivating me to get the most out of my experience. I didn’t need Lattitude while I was at my placement, as I had no issues but I felt they were always there for me if I needed them. I got on well with people at camp and I’m sure they would have helped me resolve any issues if I had them.”

We’re so happy to hear that Vicky had such a great experience with her placement. We personally match volunteers with placements and hosts to find the best fit. Having a dedicated team providing this means that we aim for every volunteer to have a positive experience like Vicky!


What do you think you have learnt about yourself from this experience?

Vicky had a lot to say about what she felt she gained from her experience at our Canada placement. But here are a few she felt stood out for her:

“I know I can work hard and succeed in things I’m passionate about. I am more confident at making decisions and had the opportunity to work independently which I enjoyed.” She also says that ‘my Mum and Dad have seen a BIG change in me – which is all positive!’

Vicky Lyons - Outdoor Activity Placement in Canada

Vicky Lyons - Outdoor Activity Placement in Canada
Feeling inspired to go and live this experience yet? We  definitely are!


If you were to volunteer again, what would you do differently?

When finishing a placement volunteers often find that in some situations they would have responded differently now as a result of learning from the placement. Here’s what she said ‘I might like to try somewhere different to an outdoors placement, somewhere like a school to get a different perspective.’ She does feel like she ‘made the most of every opportunity’ given to her but there were always times when she couldn’t take up another opportunity as she was always very busy!

She would say ‘Yes to everything!’ – We think that’s the perfect attitude for our volunteers looking to gain as much as possible from a placement like this one. It’s always important to balance work and fun, make sure you take time to allow reflection in your placement but be open to every opportunity that comes your way like Vicky!

What advice would you give to others?

Make the most of it; it’s such a great opportunity, work hard and go for it. I’ve made friends for life. Some of them, including a NZ volunteer, even live in Edinburgh now so I see them a lot.” There’s not much we can add to that, we totally agree – you get an opportunity to make a difference to others and yourself, so give it 110% and you’ll get back a whole lot more!

Vicky Lyons - Outdoor Activity Placement in Canada

What are your future plans after volunteering?

Vicky is currently studying Sports Science at Edinburgh University which is a 4 year course. After she’s done there she’s not sure what’s next for her. She does say that originally she was going to study History but changed her mind whilst she was in Canada and switched courses. She’s planning to save up and go visit the friends she made whilst on her outdoors placement as she ‘can’t imagine not seeing them again’. Looks like a taste of the outdoors lifestyle and active experience she had whilst on placement had big impact on her future.

Would you consider volunteering again? (And with Lattitude?)

Yes she would. She would be open to anything. She’d be tempted to do the same thing again just because she loved it so much! She might go to New Zealand or Australia – both places where we offer placements!

Congratulations Vicky on completing, what sounds like, a life changing placement! Are you inspired by Vicky’s experience? Do you want to have your own incredible story to tell? Check out the placements we offer and get started on your volunteering journey now!

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