American Conservation Experience Expands Volunteer Vacations Program: Participants Help Save Planet, Make Friends – While on a Vacation of a Lifetime in a National Park

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American Conservation Experience has expanded its “Volunteer Vacations” program to include new projects in Bryce Canyon National Park and Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, in addition to Catalina Island in California.

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It can also be challenging, but overcoming these challenges leads to a sense of achievement. This is in addition to the fulfillment that is experienced by completing volunteer service, and the camaraderie that forms within the group of volunteers.

American Conservation Experience has expanded its “Volunteer Vacations” program which makes experiences usually reserved for AmeriCorps service members and long-term volunteers accessible to more people.

Last year, the Flagstaff-based nonprofit’s pilot program was limited to Catalina Island off the coast of California. But with its overwhelming success, the Volunteer Vacations program has expanded this year with new projects in Bryce Canyon National Park and Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. Volunteers are needed to help do essential work, while on the vacation of a lifetime.

Volunteer Vacation participants have access to areas that are not on tourist maps and are able to experience a completely different perspective than those on a typical vacation. It is a vacation, but work is expected and is a big part of why the experience is so enjoyable.

This year’s Volunteer Vacations season officially launched last month on Catalina Island, where volunteers helped maintain the health of the island’s ecosystem while enjoying the vacation of a lifetime. The next session will begin on June 3 in the Grand Canyon, with sessions running through August at all three locations.

“Volunteers should expect a positive, fulfilling experience,” said Wilson. “It can also be challenging, but overcoming these challenges leads to a sense of achievement. This is in addition to the fulfillment that is experienced by completing volunteer service, and the camaraderie that forms within the group of volunteers.”

The chance of making very special life-long connections is also something that appeals to the program’s participants. After all, they already have something in common.

“A common trait is that individuals are active and enthusiastic and wish to meet new people in a non-typical setting,” said Tom Wilson, director of the Volunteer Vacations program at American Conservation Experience.

The experience is an opportunity to meet and work with people from around the country and around the world. International volunteers have been the trend, but Wilson wants to see more people from the United States enjoy the experience in their own back yard.

“We are ready to get the word out about this amazing opportunity, and are very happy the Volunteer Vacations program was so successful and has since been expanded,” said Wilson.

Volunteer Vacation packages are 11-days long and cost $600. Accommodations and meals are included in the fee, and ensure that the experience is provided at no cost to the park.

Weekday daytime hours are spent working, while evening and weekends are free for exploring and socializing. On Catalina Island, for example, volunteers have access to kayaks and snorkel equipment (courtesy of the University of Southern California), and have plenty of recreational time to enjoy these activities.

Session locations and start dates:

Grand Canyon National Park
June 3
July 15
Aug. 26

Bryce Canyon National Park
June 17
July 15
July 29
Aug. 12

Catalina Island
June 17
July 22
Aug. 5
Aug. 19
Sept. 2

For more detailed information on the locations, dates, and the work that is involved, go to http://www.conservationvacations.org.

Volunteer Vacations are a program of American Conservation Experience, which is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.

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Hannah Gregory, Media Rep for Good Causes
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