Preparations underway for youth ‘voluntour’ trip to Ecuador

Preparations are underway for a once-in-a-lifetime ‘voluntour’ trip that will see a group of Sylvan Lake youths spend two weeks in Ecuador

Preparations are underway for a once-in-a-lifetime ‘voluntour’ trip that will see a group of Sylvan Lake youths spend two weeks in Ecuador in April 2016.

While there, members of the travelling group will divide their time between sightseeing and volunteering with a service learning project — the latter of which could include anything from helping build a school or medical clinic to digging a well or planting a garden.

It’s the second time high school teacher Kelsey Wilson has organized such a trip, having taken a group of youths to Kenya for a similar ‘voluntour’ experience last year.

She wants the community to know the value of the experience for both the travellers and the locals who benefit from their volunteer work.

“Travel is one of the best educators, and (students) can experience the world from a different perspective,” she said. “They’re not going to be staying in a hotel; they’re going to be staying exactly in that area and helping out and learning what it means to give back to a community.”

As an avid-traveller, Wilson feels the best way to experience the world involves not just sightseeing and exploring, but also giving back in some way.

That’s the message she wants students to take away from their Ecuador visit.

“I love the idea of not only going, but also helping,” she said. “And while it’s service learning to help that part of the world, we’re going to go the the Galapagos and swim with the sea lions and experience that as well.”

The trip is being offered to Sylvan Lake youths between the ages of 14 and 18, as well as any parents who wish to accompany them.

Fundraising for the trip has already begun, with various campaigns currently underway.

Wilson is hoping the community will support the travelling group’s fundraising initiatives. Information on how to do so, as well as information about the trip’s first organizing meeting, is available by contacting Wilson at 403-848-2468, or at kb.wilson@live.ca. A discount will be offered for registrations received before the end of the November, she said.