Author : IVP Admin

HomeArticles Posted by IVP Admin
4th ASEF Young Leaders Summit

Asia-Europe Foundation Young Leaders Summit

Opportunity for Youth – 4th ASEF Young Leaders Summit: Open Call

4th ASEF Young Leaders Summit

Sustainable Development Post Covid-19


4th ASEF Young Leaders Summit
The 4th ASEF Young Leaders Summit (ASEFYLS4) is your opportunity to…
Receive a certified course on the Sustainable Development Goals and Leadership, by world-leading Higher Education and training institutions, the College of Europe in Natolin, and the Center for Creative Leadership
Engage with ASEM Leaders and even moderate Youth Dialogues with ASEM Heads of States and Governments
Be featured and bring the youth voice into an ASEM-wide Youth Leadership Report, as well as the ASEM Youth Declaration, presented at the Opening Ceremony of the 13th ASEM Summit 
Leave a positive mark in local communities across Asia and Europe through ASEFYLS4 Leadership in Action projects
Be part of our ASEM & ASEF youth community

Volunteer for the annual Goulburn Show NSW 2021

Code: AU-IVP 12.1

Title: Goulburn Show

Dates: Sat 27th February – Thurs 11th March 2021

Where: Goulburn, NSW

Number of vols: 5

Participation Fee: $150 (AUD) (covers food, accommodation, insurance, camp leader, day trip to Canberra, sightseeing in Goulburn).

Host: Goulburn Agricultural, Pastoral and Horticultural Society began in 1880. They organise the Goulburn Show each year, showcasing the very best of agricultural produce, local creative talents, school artwork and related activities. Goulburn Show is one of the largest community events in the region.

Volunteer work: For the volunteers it will be fun and rewarding to work with local community-minded people. The Show will take place on 6th and 7th March 2021 . You will work behind the scenes and help put the Goulburn Show together, set up infrastructure for the show and pack away afterwards. The work will be approximately 6-7 hours per day with tasks as required, mostly physical with some moderate lifting. You will be working alongside local volunteers; helping erect tables, setting up displays, fencing, laying carpets, general office duties and even chasing a forklift! Cleaning up after the show may include mucking up straw. During the show you will help for a few hours, on a rotating roster, to run an information stall about international volunteering and sustainability. Your ideas are welcome for this.

Cultural activities: You will have free tickets to the Show. You will learn about agricultural issues, in particular wool growing which has an important place in the history of Australia and Goulburn. There will be a whole day sightseeing trip, possibly to Canberra, and time after work for local sightseeing / shopping.

Accommodation: The team will live together in a small building at the showground. Stretchers, mattresses, sheets, pillows and blankets will be supplied. There will be a roster for shopping, cooking and cleaning. Toilets, showers and a washing machine are in the building. The town centre is a 20 minute walk away and there you can find supermarkets, post office, cinema, nature walks and a swimming pool.

Arrival and departure: Nearest international airports are Sydney and Canberra, from there it would be train or bus to and from Goulburn Railway Station, which is conveniently located in the centre of town. Detailed information about train times will be given closer to the start of the workcamp (in case of change of timetable). Please aim to arrive in the afternoon of 27th February 2021. On arrival there will be a group welcome and orientation to get to know Goulburn, the project and your hosts. There will be a walk around the grounds to familiarise you with the surroundings. Activities will start from Monday 1st March, until Tuesday 9th March. The next day Wednesday 10th March there will be an evaluation, excursion and farewell barbeque with the local volunteers. Thursday 11th March is the final day, time to wind down, pack up, you can plan to leave any time on this day that suits you.

What to bring: Wide brimmed sun hat, closed work shoes/boots and appropriate work clothes. The weather can be very changeable, one moment very and the next, a cold snap, so bring clothes for all climates, including possible rain.

Requirement: You will be working with children during the camp, therefore the Australian authorities require you to have a Working With Children Check. Please, apply for that online here , prior to arriving in Goulburn. Keep your application number, because you will have to report that on arrival.

Contact IVP:

Project Coordinator: David Hessey –

A Guide To International Volunteering


IVP would like to thank all the wonderful volunteers who have put a lot of time and effort into developing this new publication. Special thanks to Michelle Bastian for developing the concept and content. Other contributors include: Olga Enigk, Jennifer Bleazby, Melissa Cloney, Peter Durant, Shalini Kunahlan, Sharon Craig, Stacey Watson, Richard Hord, Henk Luf, Giovanna Gagliardo, Cybele Shorter, Rita Sofea Warleigh and Jules Andrews.
Some of the content of this guidebook has been published in other SCI publications including: The SCI North/South Training Guide, PVP Seminar Reports, Conflict Resolution: Best Peace Process in SCI, and SCI website as well as the various long-term volunteering guides.
The Guide to International Volunteering is available as a set of web pages by using the menu list on the left hand side of the page, or if you prefer you can download a PDF version of the last print edition produced in 2009 (5.86MB).


This is the first edition of A Guide to International Volunteering.
This guidebook will introduce you to the phenomenon of working for peace through the international workcamp movement. It aims to introduce IVP, its vision, goals and history and to prepare you to participate in any of the hundreds of volunteer projects around the world that IVP offers each year.
Inside you’ll find information about workcamps – what they are and what to expect, inter-spersed with stories written by volunteers about their workcamp experiences.

Three sections focus on important skills that will help you get the most out of your project – group dynamics, non-violent conflict resolution and democratic decision-making. Another two sections introduce a variety of perspectives on peace and conflict and global development. These sections will give you some background on the broader issues that lie behind specific IVP projects.

When you volunteer on an IVP project you will be working with people from a variety of countries and may be immersed in a new culture. To help ease the transition we have included a section on cross-cultural understanding. This section will be particularly important for those undertaking their first overseas trip or going into a country with a very different culture. It highlights specific issues that may arise during an IVP project with anecdotes from past volunteers. A brief chapter on environment and sustainability follows.
When you return from your project, you may be interested in becoming further involved with IVP. For example, we offer you the chance to develop important leadership skills through becoming a workcamp leader, to participate in international training, to gain committee experience, to leam newsletter production and obtain additional skills in general office management. These are just some of the exciting areas by which you can gain experience through volunteering with IVP.
We also offer long-term projects for volunteers with previous experience. The section on getting involved goes into this in more detail, including how to apply.

Some important things to think about when planning your participation in short-term workcamps completes this Guide.

Introducing International Volunteers for Peace

International Volunteers for Peace (IVP) is the Australian Group of Service Civil International (SCI), and a member of Network for Volunteer Development in Asia (NVDA). These are worldwide networks promoting peace and justice through voluntary work. We are a non-profit organisation that develops volunteer projects in Australia and offers Australians the opportunity to participate in projects overseas. IVP exchanges volunteers with organisations in over 50 countries with the aim of encouraging understanding among different peoples and appreciation of the problems communities face in their struggles for peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability.

Why participate in an IVP project?

Participating in one of IVP’s volunteer projects will allow you to connect with the world community through practical personal experience. Because IVP’s projects involve practical work with local community groups, you will gain the satisfaction of completing hands-on work that is of material benefit to the community you are working with. This can often be a very empowering experience, but it will also mean that you will be able to gain a personal perspective on how issues such as economic inequality, social exclusion and environmental degradation operate on a local level.

You will work with an international group, which provides a great opportunity for making friends with people all over the world. This is especially the case during an IVP project, where our volunteers not only work together, but also share cooking and cleaning duties, living space and recreational time with each other. Projects are also run democratically which helps volunteers build trust in each other and will enhance your group decision-making skills. This time together can help build a close-knit group. However volunteering with people from quite different cultures can also present challenges and frustrations. For IVP this presents one of the greatest opportunities of an international volunteer project – the chance to learn how to resolve conflicts in a peaceful and productive manner. So IVP projects not only provide practical benefits to local communities, they also allow our volunteers to practice living in democratic communities – where conflict becomes an opportunity to learn how to live peacefully with others.

The benefits of participating in overseas voluntary work don’t end when the project finishes and for some volunteers the experience of an IVP workcamp will signal the beginning of a life-long commitment to social justice and non-violence.
What does IVP believe?

Our vision is a world of peace, social justice and sustainable development, where all people live together with mutual respect and without recourse to any form of violence to solve conflict.
Our mission is to promote peace and intercultural understanding through volunteering and international voluntary projects.

– Believes that all people are capable of living together with mutual respect, and without recourse to violence to solve conflicts between nations, communities or people, working for the promotion of peace.
– Is Concerned for all people, and particularly for those who are victims of violence, as well as social, economic and political injustice or who suffer from hunger or disease.
– Supports action which encourages the development of a new way of living founded upon international solidarity, justice, mutual understanding, participation in policy making at all levels, and a respect for individuals as stated in the Universal Declaration of

Human Rights.
– Bases its work on developing peoples’ own initiatives to solve their own problems.
– Analyses and evaluates all work, taking into account both the local and wider contexts in which it is carried out.
– Organises voluntary service in co-operation with local communities in case of need, recognising the educational role of such service to encourage understanding and self-discipline. No work shall be undertaken which competes with paid labour, or causes strikebreaking.
– Spreads through the means of practical work, across the barriers that divide people, a new spirit that will render the concept of violence less and less acceptable, and the degradation of human dignity impossible.
– Promotes voluntary international service aimed at will fostering greater confidence between nations and eventually replace military service. Equally, in countries where compulsory military service exists, without the possibility of alternative service, IVP works for the realisation of such service for conscientious objectors.
– Takes Action that is appropriate, non-violent and international in situations of tension, war and injustice.
– Works for constructive changes in unjust structures that exist in society and that divide people from one another.
– Encourages and experiments in new forms of community life with the objectives of fostering tolerance and a questioning of our own attitudes.
– Acts as a catalyst, in a spirit of humility and compassion, for change within individuals and society.
(Based on the International Constitution of Service Civil International, SCI)

History of SCI

A Dream of Peace

The roots of Service Civil International lie in a very practical peace project. After the First World War, Europe had to be reconstructed and the people needed to co-operate again in a peaceful way. In 1920 a small international group gathered to repair a war-torn village on the French and German border. This first action started a movement of international volunteer workcamps and a network called Service Civil International.
Later on the educational aspects of the workcamps and the international exchange became as important as the work itself. Workcamps are seen as a tool for creating intercultural understanding and solidarity between people.
During the years the activities as well as the size of SCI have expanded. Nowadays the work of SCI is done in all continents and varies from reconstruction work to ecology, social inclusion and North-South solidarity. While SCI has become bigger, the structure of the organization has also become more complex. Fortunately the core activities are still the same. Every year, thousands of volunteers can experience the hope of peace becoming reality!

Where did it all start?

International Fellowship of Reconciliation was an organisation of Christian pacifists, who shared the values of non-violence, peace education and inter-religious dialogue. In 1919 they organised an international conference in The Netherlands, trying to define the methods and priorities of their work. All the talking frustrated some participants, who wished to do something more concrete for helping war-torn Europe.

One of the organisers of this conference, a Swiss man named Pierre Ceresole, presented the idea of an international team of volunteers who would work together to repair the damage from the war. By working together in a spirit of friendship, this team would also be a demonstration of international solidarity. It would show that people of different nationalities could refuse to be each other’s enemies. This very same idea still lies in the heart of all activities of Service Civil International.
The first international workcamp was organised in 1920 by Pierre Ceresole and his friends in Verdun, France, next to the German border. Even though the first experience was not easy, the idea spread quickly. The volunteers from this camp wanted to inspire others to work for peace as an alternative to military service. The number of volunteers rose quickly and they also gained support from local people and the governments. They started to call their network Service Civil International.

After the first workcamp

In the 1920’s SCI organised many voluntary projects, concentrating on areas affected by floods and avalanches. During the Spanish civil war many SCI-volunteers were active in helping with the evacuations and practical assistance for the refugees. Active people started also to create their own SCI groups in their home countries and SCI expanded rapidly. This also meant that a more formal structure needed to be created. The volunteer exchange between Europe and Asia had already started as well as the contacts with Eastern Europe and North Africa.
In the 1960’s the way of organising workcamps changed. Besides the work itself, the educational aspects and the international exchange became more important. The movement also became more political. In the 1980’s peace again became the core issue and the East-West work was important in Europe. Also projects around youth and unemployment and North-South issues were of importance and were the starting point for many international working groups.

Then and now

As the years have passed the work of SCI has become more widespread. In the 1990’s SCI worked with almost too many issues: with the war in the Balkans, refugees, ecology, a growing number of East-European partners and North-South exchanges. In the mid 90’s SCI went through structural changes and later developed a Strategic plan for the years 2004-2009. Recently there has been discussion about democracy, efficiency, the meaning of peace work and the role of our organisation. Still every year hundred of people are inspired by the simple, but powerful idea, with which the first workcamp started.

History of IVP

by Rita Sofea Warleigh

Service Civil International began in Sydney in 1988. The International Coordinator of SCI wrote a letter to six people in Australia who had workcamp experience, suggesting that they start SCI in Australia.

I had done a workcamp in 1987 in Italy. There I discovered the SCI philosophy and was very inspired. Prompted by the SCI letter, I organised a meeting at Badde Manors Café in Glebe, Sydney, which was attended by Chris Dunstan and Vern Cork. Chris had done workcamps in Russia and Eastern Europe in 1987. Vern had done workcamps ten years previously and been a medium term volunteer for SCI in Bangladesh. For the past ten years Vern had acted as the Australian ‘contact’ for SCI, passing on the address of SCI in the relevant country to anyone who enquired. At this historic meeting, we three agreed to create SCI Australia.

None of us knew how to run an organisation but we were keen. We began communicating with SCI International Secretariat, which was at that time in Bangalore, India. We called our organisation Service Civil International, Australia. We decided from the outset that the organisation would be non-hierarchical, use consensus decision-making, and follow the principles of non-violence in the way we operate. In other words, we committed to learning cooperation and peace-building within the organisation as well as in the work we carried out. On the 6th October the first official records began, with minutes of meetings and financial transactions. We later discovered that one of the six Australians contacted by SCI had run a workcamp some years previously in Australia.

Chris and I organised the first workcamp in the Blue Mountains in December 1988. There were eleven volunteers, nine from overseas and two from Australia, with Chris and I as co-leaders. The main work was bush regeneration at Echo Point, Katoomba and at the Conservation Hut, Wentworth Falls. The volunteers also constructed a children’s playground outside the Women’s Health Centre in Katoomba. An Outreach program with the National Trust provided teachers for a weekend workshop in bush regeneration which was open to the public. This was a way of skilling the volunteers as well as interacting with the locals and publicising SCI.

Accommodation was at a communal property at Bell and transport to and from work was by means of my old Kombi. As we had no funding we charged the volunteers a small amount to participate. At the end of the workcamp we had a small deficit, solved by holding an open-day for the public and asking for donations. At this point, we also decided to begin memberships and established a membership register and bank account.

Straight after the workcamp, I went to Europe on a family matter and while there, I was lucky enough to catch three wonderful SCI events. The first was an international SCI meeting and the second an inspiring SCI seminar in the Netherlands, “Volunteering as a Way of Life”. Then I went to Verdun, France, to take part in the celebration of 70 years of SCI with the opening of the world’s first Peace Museum at the site of the first workcamp. There were SCI activists aged from 18 to 94 at this event, and I felt that I had found my ‘world family’.

In March 1990 we held a workcamp at Cattai State Recreation Area with National Parks and Wildlife Service. We planted two thousand trees under the guidance of Greening Australia. For accommodation we negotiated with the Richmond Army base who sent a team of soldiers to erect two enormous tents within the park. We set up a kitchen in one of the picnic huts with all kitchenware supplied by St Vincent de Paul.

In May, we rented our first office, a tiny space in a large open warehouse in the city, sharing with ten other NGOs including Friends of the Earth, Movement Against Uranium Mining, Black Deaths in Custody and Men Opposed to Patriarchy. From the workcamp in 1990 we gained a new member on the committee, Jane Fisher. Vern Cork had retired from IVP by this time. We began to produce an annual Workcamps Handbook and various newsletters. We also began to process applications from Australians wanting to go to workcamps overseas, setting the application fee at $60, $50 concession, and $40/30 for Australian workcamps. The ‘Flying Penguin’ logo was designed by Amanda Rees.

Another bush regeneration workcamp was held at Cattai in 1992. The same year, the office moved to Rita’s house in Katoomba and Derek Bissell became our Bookkeeper. In May 1992, SCI Australia changed its name to International Volunteers for Peace. We wrote a constitution and became incorporated with the Department of Fair Trading. We began fundraising by organising a concert with the popular gospel choir Café of the Gate of Salvation. The Café supported IVP through such concerts for five or six years. The same year the number of active volunteers had increased to about six and we saw a need to move the office back to Sydney in order to attract more members. We moved to our current address in a building owned by People for Nuclear Disarmament.

In 1993 we had our first workcamp with Push and Power State Wheelchair Games which was run by the Crippled Children’s Association. Volunteers acted as referees and line keepers, as well as some personal care and social interaction. These workcamps, probably more than any others, changed lives and hearts of our volunteers. These workcamps ran for four years and through them began our association with Kinma, an independent school at Terrey Hills which we used for accommodation, training and evaluation before and after the Games. When the State Wheelchair Games ceased, we began holding workcamps at Kinma, doing maintenance on the buildings and grounds. These were eventually moved to take in one week of the school term, so that the volunteers could interact with the children, giving language, cooking and geography lessons.

About this time we made a commitment to working with Aboriginal groups, people and communities. As part of the mandate of IVP is to dismantle racism, we felt that it was important to shine some light on the issues close to home. In 1993 we held our first workcamp taking disadvantaged urban Aboriginal children for a farm holiday at Goulburn Yurtfarm. These continued for several years and developed to later workcamps with Redfern Aboriginal groups and the Waterloo Police and Community Youth Club. In 1995 we held a workcamp at Clairvaux Community Centre, Katoomba and so began our long relationship with Gundungurra Tribal Council.

In 1994 we held our first Workcamp Leader Training and began holding Info-Nights and stalls at universities.

Another workcamp organisation formed in 1996. They were called AVP (Australian Volunteer Projects) and were a breakaway group from CWCA (Christian Work Camps Australia) which collapsed the same year. AVP organised a workcamp at Shalom College, a non-government school for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island students. IVP collaborated by finding and processing volunteers. The following year AVP dissolved in favour of IVP taking over planning and running the Shalom workcamps. These continued with one or two camps every year for 10 years.

In 1997, I was invited to take part in a workcamp in Inner Mongolia and a seminar to set up a new network NVDA (Network for Volunteers in Asia). In 1998 we took on our most political workcamp, supporting the Mirrar people of Kakadu in their efforts to stop expansion of a uranium mine on their land. As you may know, this was a historic victory for the Mirrar, the mine was never opened, the exploratory shafts were filled in and the land regenerated. Several other one-off workcamps were with Ripple Effect, a sustainable energy group in the Blue Mountains, and with Heart Centre, a Buddhist retreat in Berowra, Sydney. In 1999, we held our first workcamp with Landcare in Lithgow and Bathurst and these continued for several years.

We worked hard on getting stories into local papers, but in about 1996 we had an article in Cosmopolitan. The resulting number of enquiries forced us revise our systems. Around this time we acquired our first computer, got an email address and computerised our membership data. In 2001 our website was created. This is now the main source of people finding out about IVP whereas previously it was by word-of-mouth.

2002 was the International Year of Volunteering. For the first time we succeeded in getting a grant of $5000 which paid for some beautiful publicity material. These were a post card through Avant Card, and matching brochures and Workcamps Handbook cover in colour. We were lucky to have a wonderful graphic artist volunteering with us at the time. The photos used were from Shalom Aboriginal College.

Two other important events this year were that we upgraded our status with SCI from Contact to Group and were also declared to be part of the Asian Region of SCI. The second event was that we had outgrown our tiny office, and moved to a bigger room in the same building, acquired several more computers and a network.

Also this year, we were fortunate to have Giovanna and Renzo, two active members of SCI Italy, arrive in Melbourne for a 5-year stay. Giovanna organised a workcamp in Melbourne with CERES for the Return of the Sacred Kingfisher Festival and these ran every year for five years. Through the NVDA network, we were approached by a Japanese tertiary institution and started to organise ‘bi-lateral workcamps’ with NICE Japan. These we ran in conjunction with Gundungurra Tribal Council in Katoomba.

A big boost for IVP came with the employment of a paid administrator for 15 hours a week. This made us much more professional and able to respond to communication efficiently and consistently. We were lucky to have Janet McKay who was not only excellent with administration but was studying Community Development so had a good understanding of the needs of an organisation like IVP. Janet moved on to study music full-time and shortly afterwards, in 2006, IVP suffered a financial downturn that forced us to return to full volunteer operation.

Over the years we have had volunteers come to stay with us for extended periods and these include Olivier and Ysabeau from France, Joachim from Sweden, Alan from WA. Lots of fabulous volunteers have worked in the office, gone on workcamps, and come to our workcamps.

Workcamps as Paths to Peace

Why does IVP choose International Workcamps as its main tool in building paths towards peace?

In organising international workcamps, IVP, and SCI more generally, tries to work on three different levels at the same time:

On the first level, a group of individuals with very different geographical, cultural and social backgrounds are brought together as a workcamp-group. They will form a temporary community of their own for the entire period of the workcamp. They will have to work together on a project and they will have to live together; getting to know each other, cooking food, organising their recreation time, agreeing on how the project work should be done and so on. In many circumstances the living conditions are very simple and often do not allow a great deal of privacy. One can easily imagine that in such a setting and with such a variety of participants, conflicts arise. They usually do! Participating in a workcamp is about learning how to solve these conflicts in a peaceful way, using and exercising methods of non-violent conflict resolution and learning to respect different views and cultural backgrounds.

On the second level, the workcamp group also interacts with the local community in which the project is based. In this way, they will have an impact on the community where they will temporarily live. In most countries locals are often very curious about people who have come from abroad to work voluntarily on a project. It is not always easy for them to understand why anyone would do this. In this way international workcamps help to broaden the perspective of local people. In most cases, the group will work closely with the local community, talking together, exchanging ideas, discussions and enjoying the local culture together.

On the third level, the workcamp reflects SCI’s slogan throughout the years; ‘Deeds, not words’. In this regard, the practical work done is of the utmost importance. Though it might be our primary goal to bring people from all around the globe together to give them the opportunity to practice peaceful co-operation and non-violent conflict resolution, this is not necessarily the main goal for the local project partner or organisation. Often, their first concern is that a specific project is completed so it can benefit the local community. So it is important that volunteers are dedicated to carrying out the work that brought them to that particular local community.

On each of these levels there is the opportunity to build friendships and IVP believes that the long – sometimes lifetime – international friendships which begin on workcamps are an important contribution to international understanding and concern.

Workcamp Philosophy

An international workcamp is such an open-ended experience and depends so much on the input of its participants that it may seem to lack definition. So rather than providing a definition, we would like to give prospective volunteers some guidelines for thinking about workcamps so that the decision to take part in one is better informed.

Participation in an international workcamp requires:

A commitment to a group experience

Workcamps provide an opportunity to explore the potential of an international group not only living and working together but also having fun and sparking community interaction. Workcamps should not be seen as a means for accomplishing individual goals, touring a particular area, learning a language or having a cheap holiday.

An important part of the group experience involves reaching beyond the comforts of your own language and familiar culture. Workcamp volunteers should be aware of the importance of assisting everyone by speaking in the stated language of the camp as far as possible. Volunteers with English as their first language should try to be aware of when they are excluding other volunteers by speaking too quickly or using too much unfamiliar slang. It is also important not to forget about the possibilities of body language or other means of communication.

A commitment to working out decisions and problems together

In a workcamp, orders are not issued from above (i.e. the workcamp leaders); rather, decisions are made through a group process, which includes discussions and guidance from the workcamp leader. Even so individuals are still required to make their own decisions. For example, if a workcamp participant wants to pursue some interest which falls somewhat outside of the workcamp plans, it is a decision which is properly discussed by the group, even though it remains the individual’s own decision. It is important to be willing to take part in this process, which sometimes takes time and requires considering the different perspectives that arise within the group. IVP believes this process is important as a way of practicing peace and reconciliation on a personal level, as well as on a practical level throughout the camp.

Attending the entire workcamp

It is strongly recommended that you do not arrive late or depart early at a workcamp. A person arriving late misses the crucial period of orientation and friendly awkwardness as group members get to know one another and a group spirit builds. A person departing early erodes the feeling of solidarity in a group and leaves the remaining volunteers with a sense of having been left behind for something more important. No matter how successful a workcamp is, early departures can create among the volunteers a feeling of waiting for the workcamp to come to an end.

Being sensitive to the camp’s place in the community

The workcamp represents a group of people who have come together for a relatively short period of time. They are guests within the community and are unfamiliar with the intricate and subtle patterns that exist within the community of which their project sponsor is a part. Consequently, there is a challenge in having the workcamp gracefully blend in with the community, especially when local customs differ from the volunteer’s own. Volunteers should regard the differences as opportunities to learn, not as sources of conflict.

Being open to learning

SCI appeals to a broad range of people because an open mind is a far greater qualification than a particular skill. Volunteers unskilled at certain jobs are encouraged to learn new skills. Often cultural stereotypes need be broken to ensure an equal representation in jobs traditionally labelled women’s work or men’s work. In this learning process volunteers may have to seek a balance between good, efficient work and allowing mistakes to be made due to inexperience. A workcamp is also an opportunity to learn from people of different ages. Generally, volunteers are aged between 18 and 35, however, there is no upper age limit. Volunteers may feel challenged to work with others outside of their peer group, and yet find it refreshing to be part of a group unified by a common purpose.

Contributing fully to the work

The work is important. It may not always be to a volunteer’s liking, nor is it merely concocted as a vehicle for bringing people together. There are expectations by the workcamp sponsors that the work will be done, and all volunteers, though directed by workcamp or project leaders, should feel a responsibility toward doing it well. If there is a study component of the workcamp, volunteers should inform themselves before the workcamp in order to add to the discussion.

Having lots of self-motivation

A workcamp is what each volunteer makes of it. It requires seeking out opportunities, looking to see what needs to be done, taking responsibility. A volunteer should feel equally a part of shaping the workcamp as the leaders do. Workcamps thrive on the initiatives of individuals.

And, of course, having fun!

Introduction to Workcamps

A workcamp is a place where people of diverse race, ideology, nationality, and age live together for two to four weeks while working on a community project. The workcamps are initiated and organised by community groups and are designed to be of tangible benefit to the local community. They enhance local initiatives and do not replace paid labour. Workcamps usually take between 8 and 20 international participants who work and socialise with the local community. Workcamps take place all year round but in Europe most occur during the Northern hemisphere summer.

Through workcamps, IVP incorporates and sustains visionary aims. Workcamps provide an opportunity for individuals to combine their energies and together address problems vital to our shared global future. Internal decision-making, problem solving and a sense of group identity are promoted. Workcamps aim to increase tolerance and facilitate the questioning of values. Whether working at a children’s centre in Paris, on an environmental project in Colorado, or helping with relief programs in Thailand, the volunteers help establish paths to peace.

In this section you will find more information about workcamp philosophy, workcamps as paths to peace and what to expect on a workcamp.