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National Park Volunteer Vacation

Celebrate United Nations Year of the Forest

Galpal getaways that are as much about the planet as they are about friendship take more effort than a typical girlfriend getaway on the beach. But the simple truth is that there are plenty of low-impact destinations in North America that can deliver bonding time with friends and a trifecta of personal change: learning, service and the motivation to get involved back at home. Sounds perfect, right?

Girlfriends Volunteer VacationGirlfriends Volunteer VacationEver considered a volunteer vacation before? They're all about getting away and helping others. Yours can mean traveling abroad to help nurses in Romania or they can be about doing good here - like in our national parks that are so in need of care.

Getting down to work while having fun

There's no one size fits all and you get to decide if you want to rough it (no plumbing, electricity, etc.) or if you need a few creature comforts. If you're traveling with friends who think roughing it is arriving at the spa without reservations, make sure everyone understands what you're planning.

Volunteering is hard workVolunteering is hard workA volunteer vacation isn't for everyone - no matter how much you want to help the planet. You're there to work, so work hours are work hours. On most adventures, everyone pitches in to make meals and cleanup. And they're not free. Your fees cover food, supplies and insurance for the group - and you're responsible for any incidentals and travel costs.

Still want to lend a hand with your friends while on vacation? Check out how these organizations can take your girlfriend getaway to a whole new level.

National park volunteering

I spend a week - sometimes two - camping each summer and I'm inspired by the amount of opportunities there are to help while enjoying the great outdoors. National campgrounds in both Canada and the US run on excruciatingly tight budgets and rely on outside groups to take up their cause.

Whether it's manning the camp store, clearing trails of winter debris or painting picnic tables, how you help is the only question left to answer. Check out these organizations and let them inspire your next national park volunteering adventure.

Sierra Club

Sierra ClubSierra ClubCustomize your girlfriend getaway at the Sierra Club based on your personal passions. Because national park needs are so diverse, choose from experiencing an archeological dig to helping replant endangered plants to more rigorous trail and cabin building and restoration. Projects, expectations and prices are explained in detail on each project page. For more information, call Sierra Club's head office at 415-977-5799 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            415-977-5799      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or email them at information@sierraclub.org.

American Hiking Society

American Hiking SocietyAmerican Hiking SocietyBecause hiking is the American Hiking Society's focus, their volunteer vacations are all about improving trails. Some trips offer cabin accommodation but many require volunteers to supply their own tents, sleeping bags and other camping essentials and hike miles into basecamp. Read the American Hiking Society's FAQ page carefully to understand the different levels of difficulty and accommodations prior to booking your trip. Call their toll free number at 800-972-8608 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            800-972-8608      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or like them on Facebook to talk other volunteers.

Earth Watch Institute

EarthWatch InstituteEarthWatch InstituteDream up a truly unique volunteer vacation with your girlfriends using Earth Watch's diverse expeditions. From installing "Frogloggers" to monitor the lifecycles of wood and boreal chorus frogs in Canada's Arctic Circle to tracking whales in Tofino, BC to monitoring mammals in Nova Scotia, their Canadian offerings will help you see - and feel - the impact climate change has on earth's residents. Call the Earth Watch Institute's toll free number 800-776-0018 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            800-776-0018      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or follow them on Twitter and join in the conversation.

National Parks Volunteering

National Parks VolunteersNational Parks VolunteersBoth Canada and the Unites States national parks run extensive volunteer programs that can include the whole family. Opportunities tend to be in parks where you can interact with other campers - but not always. Check out their respective sites to see where and how you can volunteer this summer.

Volunteering at a national park is more economical than an outfitter if budget is a consideration and you can bring your own food and adult beverages (as long as you indulge on your campsite). Can you think of a better way to celebrate the UN's International Year of Forests?

Love the great outdoors? Ever volunteered at a national park before? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook and let's start talking!

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Comments

Has anyone here experienced any of the American Hiking Society volunteer vacations? Considering doing one this summer and wondering if the trips are organized and well run...thanks!

This seems like a great way to spend some time on vacation. Hopefully making a lasting impression!

We have made at least one day of every family vacation available for helping with local needs for the last few years. it has been fulfilling for us and our children as we see the real needs around the country.

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