Volunteering as an Outdoor Activity Instructor in Canada – Jacob’s story

Posted on the 9th October 2017

Jacob Vick volunteered with Lattitude in 2016/17 as an Outdoor Activity Instructor in Canada. He has shared with us his amazing volunteering experience and why you should apply to go to Canada!

Where did you go and what did you do?

I volunteered at the YWCA YoWoChAs camp in Canada as an outdoor activity specialist. Activities I ran included high and static ropes, canoeing, zip line and the climbing wall. I trained and assessed staff as well as other volunteers as I was trained in the activities and had already been there for 6 months.

I taught groups of people from kindergarten age up to 75 years old. I had 2-3 groups of 75 year old and managed to get them out canoeing. I also had a group of people who were blind who did everything from canoeing to high ropes – it was brilliant! In total I ran 350 outdoor sessions in 14 months, that’s 450 hours of running sessions!

What have you learnt from this experience?

Through this experience I have learnt how to work effectively as part of a diverse team of people. At times it was challenging to make myself understood to the groups I was training so I had to learn to adapt my communication style. I have become more confident and experienced in my abilities to instruct which has become second nature to me. I have also become more independent and learnt about another culture – one that isn’t too different from the UK but more relaxed, even driving and shopping was more leisurely.

What did you enjoy about this experience?

I loved the instructor work and I have realised through leading activity sessions and supporting new volunteers that I want to be an outdoor education teacher in a primary school! My favourite activity was training the staff and seeing them develop! Even when the work got hard I still loved it. The scenery was stunning and I really enjoyed the people in Canada who always went out of their way to help! I also really enjoyed being with all the other volunteers, you become a part of one big family where you all rely on each other and hang out together. It really is the best fun ever!

What are your future plans?

I have started studying BA (hons) Primary and Outdoor Education at the University of Worcester where I will stay for three years. After this I will train for a further two years to become a teacher. I was able to get onto this course through the sessions I led at the camp and acquiring a reference from the Camp Director which is a big deal!

I’m also teaching paddle sports at an outdoor centre in Worcester and helping to deliver the Bronze DoE awards at my old school! I’ll be going to Canada next year for a holiday and to catch up with all the friends I made whilst volunteering.

What advice would you give to future volunteers?

My advice to future volunteers would be to get stuck in and have a positive attitude! Because I was willing to get involved with everything and help out staff as well as volunteers I made it into the camps ‘hall of fame’ – the first volunteer yet! Volunteering is all about being yourself and embracing the experience to learn about yourself and a new culture and make a positive impact all round.

Are you interested in volunteering in Canada? Click here for more information about our programmes 

Jacob has so many good photos that we had to include some more!


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