Please read the following carefully:
- This is NOT an American Express Vacation! Perhaps because we’ve been operating for a number of years, we’ve got a professional website, we’ve got newsletters, and because we have had so many positive comments, people sometimes believe this is a sort of a third world “Disneyland trip.” A high level of quality control, consistency, significant support staffing, a “program”, etc is sometimes expected. It is not always that way.
You are participating in a very unpredictable, self-generating, self-directed program in a developing country. It is NOT YMCA camp. It’s a group of individuals working together to provide opportunities for disadvantaged children.
Your experience will be like no experience before it, or after it. If you are volunteering with Outreach360 for the second time, expect a completely different experience. It will not be a repeat of your first trip. Be prepared for frustration, break down, discomfort, etc. Also be prepared for an unforgettable experience with miracles, little and big.
- Be Gumby. Things will not happen as you hope and plan. Be “Gumby” and adjust. If the bus breaks down, open the window and enjoy the breeze while you take a nap. If the power goes out, enjoy the romantic candles. If the cement isn’t there to pour the floor, play some catch with one of the kids. If the toilets aren’t working, enjoy the walk into the restaurant in town.
- You’ll be camping in a building. The quality of the facilities are relative to what you’re expecting. Expect that you’re camping, with the benefit of a roof. Anything beyond that is gravy.
- This is a happy trip. The trip will be a fun, happy time. If you are prepared for a serious, hard-working, miserable trip to a poor, impoverished country- please adjust your expectations. You may see things that might shock you, living conditions that are unacceptable, items that aren’t fair. However, everything that we do on this trip is a positive that they would not have had without your involvement. What we don’t get done, is an opportunity for future involvement. In the meantime, have a great time. The kids will!
- The intangibles are as important as the tangibles. It’s easy to focus on “what are we going to accomplish”, meaning what are we going to do with the wood, cement, blocks, etc. I encourage you to focus also on the intangibles. The kids probably don’t remember who built the basketball court, but they remember who played basketball with them. I encourage you to focus on the kids, as much as the projects.
- Do not become too attached to one particular child. Please be friendly and affectionate, without being too affectionate. It’s very important to develop relationships with the kids during the trip, and natural for us and them to be sad when we have to leave. It isn’t natural for one particular child to be upset because one particular volunteer is leaving. It’s only happened a couple of times, so it’s not something to be fearful of, but something to be aware of and to avoid.
- Know your objectives. Know that you’re responsible for the attainment of your objectives. Please write down, and be ready to share with the team, your objective(s) for being on the trip. If you don’t know why you’re going, please spend some time figuring it out. It’s not so we know so that we can fulfill your objectives. It’s so you know. And so we, and other members of the team can assist you in whatever way we can. Bottom line, you are responsible for the fulfillment of the objectives of your trip. It also means you are responsible for communicating with us if it’s not happening. This is a very important point. You are investing heavily in this experience. If your objective is to take a break – know it. If it’s to make a difference to one child – know it. If it’s to leave a lasting impact – know it. And be happy when it happens.
- Some of the above items may be a surprise, or maybe generating some questions, or may not be clear. If so, please contact us.