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    has anyone done this? what's it like? it sounds really amazing and it's the most affordable volunteering programme iv seen...but 10weeks seems like such a long time to be slumming it...is there much time off? can u do a decent bit of travelling?
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    Hi there,

    Volunteer USA is definitely an amazing way to spend a few months! Someone asked a similar question a few weeks ago so you may want to check out this thread http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show...olunteer%20usa

    Feel free to get in touch if you have any Qs about the programme 02072510662
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    (Original post by thats_my_poison)
    has anyone done this? what's it like? it sounds really amazing and it's the most affordable volunteering programme iv seen...but 10weeks seems like such a long time to be slumming it...is there much time off? can u do a decent bit of travelling?
    Please don't take this as a reason to avoid doing this, because overall I'd say you should, but there are a few things to point out and a few things you ought to know before committing to this.

    1. There's no such thing as 'BUNAC Volunteer USA'. It's actually just the UK sales proxy company employed by the American Conservation Experience to find them volunteers. This is OK, but they're not exactly open about it until you sign up.

    2. The expenses suggested by BUNAC are... conservative at best. You CAN do it for the kind of money they talk about, but you'd have a pretty crap time. For instance, I worked on two month long projects and during the time off we travelled around the various states we were working in. This was great and I'm glad I did it, but sharing the cost of motels with the other volunteers for 6 days obviously adds up. The official line is that you don't have to go on these road trips if you don't want to. This is one thing if you're doing week-long projects out of Flagstaff and the alternative is hanging out with interesting people in the accommodation, but if you're on a month-long project hundreds of miles away, you have absolutely no choice, short of living in the camp on your own for a week and living off tinned goods!

    Honestly, you should go on the road trips - they're amazing, but budget for them appropriately. If you go to Vegas, in particular, don't underestimate the price.

    3. In terms of time off, you generally work around 8 days on and 6 days off. This works out pretty well as out of the 8 days, 1 or 2 are often travelling. The amount of hours you do a day entirely depends on your supervisor. One one project, we worked 10 hours straight with just the 30 mins lunch and 15 mins morning and afternoon breaks, whilst on another, we worked about 2 hours a day and sat eating cheesecake, pretending to get up and hold some tools when the Park Service drove past.

    4. ACE are pretty economical and tend to cut corners. The tents they give you are frankly ancient and require a lot of duct tape to make them waterproof. Bring your own. We also had a few safety concerns when we were there, with shoddy tools being provided. Fortunately, our supervisor had the sense to buy some new ones and bill ACE for the cost. Also, on food, what's provided is often a bit inadequate, and on one project we pretty much mutinied and forced the supervisor to buy some proper stuff. You won't starve, but expect to lose a few pounds. The level of food provision would be fine under normal conditions, but when you're burning 9000 calories a day swinging a pickaxe, you need more. Also on safety, ACE had a van blow up last year when I was there. It caught fire and the gas canisters in the trailer (not properly secured in fireproof boxes) exploded. Everyone lost everything and ACE were only prepared to hand over $500 each in damages - not actually enough when you add up all of the stuff you take with you on a project.

    Please don't be too off-put by all of this stuff. ACE was one of the defining experiences of my life and I'd probably do it again, but do be aware that in exchange for accommodation and the opportunity to explore the USA, you basically have to do hard labour for 3 months, unpaid. It's not that the work is too hard, it's that sometimes you don't get quite as much back on project in terms of thanks and conditions as one might expect in exchange for what you're doing.

    Just try to make an informed decision about whether you're prepared to make these sacrifices rather than doing it and having a miserable time, as some people do.
 
 
 
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