Volunteer Vacations are a series of trail building projects on America’s public lands. Each crew consists of 6-15 volunteers accompanied by a crew leader. Trips involve backpacking or day hiking and accommodations vary from primitive campsites to bunkhouses or cabins. Tools and supervision are provided by the host agency or organization. More than a program that rehabilitates trails, Volunteer Vacations fosters public land stewardship and provides volunteers the opportunity to give back to the trails they love, meet new people, and have a great time doing it!
To see the recent successes of our stewardship programs, view the 2016 Volunteer Vacations Year in Review.
- $275: American Hiking Society Members, First Trip per Calendar Year
- $330: Non-Member, First Trip per Calendar Year
- $195: Additional Trips per Calendar Year
- $195: Youth Registration, Under 18 Years of Age (Must be accompanied by legal guardian on trip)
- $195: Group Rate, Minimum of 4 (All must be members)
*The registration fee and travel associated with your volunteer trip is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Find out how you can get earn a comped Volunteer Vacation registration, HERE.
- Food during the week (with the exception of meals out)
- Entrance to park/forest, backcountry permits, campground fees, cabin or lodging fees (These fees could run upwards of $100 for a typical week in a U.S. National Park/Forest)
- Use of tools and safety equipment
- Group supervision, logistics planning, and meal planning from experienced Crew Leaders
- Exclusive American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacations t-shirt
- If you are a non-member signing up for the first time, you also get the full benefits of membership.
* American Hiking is a non-profit organization. In addition to the inclusions listed above, the registration fee helps offset the costs associated with coordinating the logistics and marketing of more than 60 different projects in 30 states every year.
We are providing our dedicated trail stewards the opportunity to make an even bigger impact on trails beyond their week of service by fundraising for American Hiking Society. We’ve set up a Team fundraising page on behalf of American Hiking Society and invite you to join us by setting up your own individual fundraising page. It’s easy to do and takes just 5-10 minutes. Then tap into your network of friends and family to help us in our mission to protect the places you love to hike.
In addition to helping us get more “boots-on-the-ground”, raising funds for Volunteer Vacations can get you some really awesome gear to take on your next adventure. We’ve curated an extensive list of some of the best outdoor gear and equipment in the industry to reward you for your fundraising efforts. Find out how you can save more trails and get your Volunteer Vacation registration fee comped, HERE.
The start date listed for each project is the travel/meeting date. The meeting time will generally be in the late afternoon of the start date to allow morning and early afternoon travel. The project work will begin the following day. For backpacking trips, the crew will generally camp at the trailhead or other temporary accommodations for the first night, and then hike into basecamp the following morning. The end date listed for each project is used as a camp cleanup/travel day. Generally no work will be done of this date.
Volunteers are responsible for all travel costs to and from the site. Many hosts offer an airport pickup. When we confirm the project, we will provide you with the travel instructions including airport pickup and departure times and the designated meeting place. Do not make non-refundable travel arrangements until you have received a project confirmation. If the project is cancelled due to low attendance or unforeseen circumstances, American Hiking cannot be held responsible for loss of funds due to cancelled or changed travel itineraries.
If the host cannot provide an airport pickup, it is the responsibility of the volunteer to get to the site. We provide a list of participants in the confirmation email and you might coordinate with some of your fellow crew members to carpool. Airport shuttles, renting a car, or driving your personal vehicle are all options if the host cannot provide an airport pickup.
*Travel expenses for public service projects are considered charitable contributions and may be tax deductible.
Food is included in your registration fee for all Volunteer Vacations. The American Hiking crew leader or project host will coordinate the menu for the week based on the dietary restrictions/preferences you list on your registration forms. If possible, the crew leader will shop in advance of the trip for groceries.
- Dietary Restrictions/Needs: We will try to accommodate dietary restrictions and needs within reason. Please be sure to list any dietary restrictions on your registration form and reiterate them to the crew leader. If your needs are extensive or expensive, you may be asked to bring some of your own food. We ask that all volunteers be flexible.
- Group Meals and Chores: Food preparation, meal clean-up, and other camp chores (firewood collection, cleaning tools, etc.) are split between the crew. The crew leader or host will delegate these duties to the crew upon arrival. ALL volunteers are expected to pitch into the efforts on the trail, as well as at camp.
- Meals outside of the scheduled menu: Volunteers cover the cost of meals eaten out or any personal additions that were not planned by the crew leader or host.
Your gear needs will vary greatly based on your trip, project location, and accommodations. To get you started with packing, we have included suggested equipment checklists that should cover your basic needs. Volunteers provide their own tent, sleeping bag, pad, and all personal gear, including eating utensils for trips designated as camping trips. Tools, camp cook gear, and First-Aid equipment will be provided by the host. Detailed gear needs will be communicated in the project confirmation and from your crew leader in advance of your trip. More details about Gear and Equipment can be found on the Trip Resources page.
If you submit your registration online, you should receive an automatic confirmation that your registration has been submitted and received. Once the minimum number of volunteers has been met and all details have been confirmed with the project, we will send you a project confirmation, via email. These are generally sent out 6-8 weeks in advance of the project start. Project confirmations include local travel instructions, airport pickup times, and other project details.
- Do not book non-refundable transportation until receiving the project confirmation. AHS is not responsible for lost funds due to cancelled or modified travel itineraries.
- Cancellations received at least 8 weeks prior to the start date of the project will receive a 50% refund of the original registration fee paid. The membership fee is non-refundable.
- No refund will be made if cancellation is made less than 8 weeks prior to the start date or if the participant fails to show up for the project. This includes instances of injury or illness.
- If notice is received at least 8 weeks prior to the start date of the project, participants may switch to another project during the same calendar year, subject to an additional $50 administrative fee.
- We understand that things might come up that would prevent you from participating in your scheduled trip. If you are unable to take part in your assigned project for any reason, please let us know immediately so we can notify the project host and crew leader.
If you would like assistance selecting a trip or have additional questions, please contact Libby Wile, at LWile@AmericanHiking.org or call 1-800-972-8608 ext. 704.