Volunteer with Ravenwood
- Volunteer for a half or full day, just once or as often as your schedule allows
- Bring the Kids*
- Have fun in nature
- Awaken your own curiosity
- Support youth social-emotional learning
- Learn awesome wilderness and survival skills
- Support nature mentoring in action
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away” -William Shakespeare
How to Volunteer for Ravenwood
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Special note for Volunteers in School Programs
Ravenwood works with a lot of local schools. Volunteers who have a personal connection to the school and want to help out with a school program should ask the school administrator what they need to do to volunteer. If you have no personal connection to the school but still want to volunteer for a school program, you can follow the steps below to become a Ravenwood Volunteer.
Do the Training
Ravenwood offers two easy ways to get trained as a volunteer.
Every year we offer a Volunteer Training Day at the beginning of the summer, usually on a Saturday in early June at our Trumbull Canyon Camp location near Whitefish and Columbia Falls. We will let you know the date when we receive your volunteer application.
If you can’t make it to the in-person Volunteer Training Day, we also offer an online Volunteer Training Course on on our website. Just read the material and watch the videos, and test your knowledge with our online quizzes. You must submit all 3 quizzes for the training to be complete, and then our staff will be in contact for the next steps.
Get a Background Check
Unless you are volunteering through a public school that has their own background check procedure, everyone who helps out in Ravenwood programs that include minors must submit some basic information so that our office can run a background check. The information we need is:
- Your full legal name
- Your date of birth
- Your official state of residence
- Your social security number
Our office must have your background check information at least three weeks before the program start date. You can provide our office with this information over the phone by calling (406) 260-8620
Sign the Waiver
Every adult who goes out into the field with Ravenwood needs to sign a waiver form. If your child will come with you but isn’t enrolled in the program, we’ll also need a waiver form for them. Please print, sign, and bring these forms with you before an in-person volunteer training or your first day in the field.
See you in the Field!
Once you’ve sent us your application, signed the waiver, done a training, and your background check is complete, we can arrange your volunteer dates!
You can volunteer just once or as often as fits with your schedule. You can also volunteer for just part of the day, if that’s what fits best into your schedule!
Call Ravenwood Program Directors at (510) 423-2705, or email programs@ravenwoodolc to arrange a volunteer schedule.
What is it like to volunteer with Ravenwood?
Volunteers are a core part of our mentoring methodology. We use role-modeling in so much that we do, and it’s super important to have adults in the program who can role-model engagement, curiosity, and reverence for nature! As a volunteer, you’ll be asked to keep a look-out for safety but your primary role is to model nature-connection. Successful volunteers bring their curiosity, full attention, and a yes-and attitude to co-create an engaging nature-connection experience for all.
Ravenwood has two volunteer tracks: regular Program Volunteers, and the Elder’s Initiative. Becoming a vounteer follows the same process regardless of which track you choose. See below for more information on the Elders Initiative.
*Volunteers with 2 or more years of experience may be invited to bring their kids along free of charge, if the arrangement works for Ravenwood staff as well. If you want your child to be able to attend all program dates please register them and pay for their tuition. Volunteers may only bring their children if they have been invited to do so by Ravenwood field staff. Invitations are made case-by-case and are based on established relationships with volunteers and families. When you bring your children, you will be the primary adult responsible for them. Please make sure that you can both attend to your children’s needs and to your responsibilities as a volunteer. A volunteer’s permission to bring their children along with them can be renegotiated or revoked at any time if Ravenwood staff feel the need.
Elders Initiative Details
The Elders Initiative is an invite-only program. We consider an Elder to be anyone older than the campers who self-identifies as an Elder. Sometimes they have gray hair, and sometimes they don’t. Elders are people who have chosen to make themselves and their life experience available to help campers reflect on their own experiences. An elder is someone who listens to stories, asks questions, shares their own life experiences, and reserves judgment. To be part of the Elders Initiative, a volunteer should take the time to connect with the Ravenwood community first, and let us know that they are interested in being part of the Elders Initiative.
Each summer we host an Elder Fire at Camp Night Hawk and bring our Elders to Teen Camp to hear stories and reflect with our teens after their important solo work. Elder Fire is anticipated greatly by the kids, staff, and elders alike. The campfire area is cleaned and adorned, the kids greet and serve a meal fit for royalty (camp-style anyway!), often with special handmade gifts and flower crowns. After the meal the elders visit with each other, reflecting on their own learning at this special time of life and relishing the energy and joy that comes to them from being with the kids at camp.
The kids then welcome everyone to the fire circle where we share our songs, stories, and laughter. After some opening words and introductions, the kids are given the opportunity to ask questions they’ve been working out during their quiet moments at their sit spots or as they drift to sleep in the tipi or under the stars. The elders share stories that relate to the questions and offer advice and new questions for the kids to ponder. Emotions often run high and a special quality of experience emerges as the light fades and the fire illuminates our hearts and eyes.
What a gift to share these moments and remember to honor our elders for all they have learned and survived and are willing to share. We have just scratched the surface of possibilities with this intention and are very excited about where it is headed for Ravenwood and our entire community.
What people are Saying about Volunteering for Ravenwood:
I started out volunteering with Ravenwood as a way to spend more time in nature with my children. My experience with Ravenwood over the past 3 years has turned into an ongoing personal journey of growth and learning as well. I am reminded of what is really important in this life and that connection is at the root of it all. I am a better mom, spouse, nurse and homeschool guide because of the subtle treasures of connection that being part of the Ravenwood community has revealed to me.
Whenever I would come back from a Ravenwood day my wife would say, “You’re just so different, you’re glowing! I want some of that!” I wish we could do Ravenwood every week.
My volunteering started with a curiosity to know exactly what my son was doing in the woods all day and wondering what was putting that huge smile on his face when he came home. The training gave me new tools I can use at Ravenwood but also at home, work, or just life in general. Volunteering made me realize that as a working mom, I needed a little time in the woods myself. I can’t wait to go back to camp!