The Woods Project could not create these experiences for our students without volunteers. We rely heavily on our volunteers to provide a life-changing opportunity for the students we work with. Our adult volunteer mentors help not only guide our students through overcoming obstacles in the woods but also help process the meaning of their accomplishments along the way. Our volunteers come from all walks of life and range in age from 22 to 78 years old. The Woods Project is always looking for qualified, positive role models to fill our leader positions. Volunteers are the most important part in making our program a success, so if you have a passion for the outdoors and working with inner city youth, we are the program for you. Change lives and have your life changed in the process.
“My participation in The Woods Project has absolutely made me a better teacher. TWP has given me skills that help me to better reach my students and develop stronger support systems for my students.” – Daniel Bryant, Volunteer Leader
The Woods Project is 100% volunteer dependent! Volunteers are used in every facet of the organization from working directly with our students as trip leaders to making sure our camping equipment & supplies are in top shape to lending a hand at our special events. Anyone can volunteer and no wilderness experience required! There is so much to do in preparation for wilderness immersion experiences.
A few our keystone volunteer activities:
Gear Management Days (inventory, cleaning, and more!)
Food Prep and Pack
First Aid Kit Restock
Sleeping Bag Wash Day
Special events: annual Luncheon and Walk for The Woods Project
Interested in any of these activities? Click here to complete our Volunteer Application.
Interested in hiking, canoe/kayaking, and camping alongside TWP students during weekend and/or summer trip programs? Click here to complete a Weekend and Summer Trip Volunteer Application.
Weekend trip volunteering is a Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon commitment in wilderness locations in and around the Houston area.
Summer trip volunteering is a 2-week commitment during July in nationally recognized wilderness locations such as Olympic and Yosemite National Parks, Donner Pass/Desolation Wilderness, and the Apostle Islands.
Are You An Alumn? The Woods Project is constantly looking for ways to stay connected with our alumni so that together, we can continue to make a change in our community. We know that spending two weeks in the wilderness with a small group of people can create lifetime connections and we are committed to seeing our alumni succeed. If you participated in TWP programming and are now looking to give back or connect with old friends, we would love to hear from you. Our alumni are important to us and we hope you take some time to get involved. STAY IN TOUCH!
We can’t wait for you to create your own TWP volunteer story!
Our weekend programming in and around the Houston area is FREE to all volunteers and students. For our summer program, volunteers are asked to pay the lesser of $1250 or the cost of transportation, if they can comfortably do so. We do offer fundraising opportunities for volunteers interested in summer trip.
Volunteers filter in to the site Friday afternoon and evening based on work schedules. Students and school leaders arrive between approximately 5:00 – 7:00pm. All of our weekend sites are within 120 miles of Houston. Friday evening is spent doing an orientation with the student and volunteers, setting up camp, and getting acquainted with the surroundings. The bulk of the programming happens on Saturday during the day and that is dependent on the type of trip you are participating in- backpacking, canoe/kayak, or service project. On Sunday morning we make breakfast, participate in a short closing activity and pack-up camp. We typically get on the road back to Houston between 10:00 – 11:00 AM. The overall goal of the weekend is to start the process of moving kids outside their comfort zones. They will be experiencing things that they may never have experienced before such as cooking dinner, washing dishes, taking night hikes, sleeping in a tent, meeting new people with different backgrounds, etc. These activities are intended to improve self-esteem, self-reliance and leadership skills while giving the students a preview of the challenges they will encounter during the summer session.
Packing lists for the summer and weekend trips can be found here: https://thewoodsproject.org/participate/. We highly recommend clothes that are breathable and dry quickly because we will be outside almost the entire time! Please take a look at the weather before coming out with us and adjust as needed so you can be prepared for the elements.
We provide all necessary gear for both weekend and summer trips at no extra cost. This includes tents, sleeping bags, platypus, backpacks, sleeping pad, hiking socks, boots, etc., so need to worry! Contact us directly if you have any specific questions on gear needs.
As a volunteer, your role is to supervise and mentor the students and to always be aware of safety concerns. A primary goal of The Woods Project is to develop student leadership and initiative, and, to that end, we ask our leaders to teach and not do; to show the students how to do a task and then step back. When a student has a question, we encourage them to think through possible answers as opposed to feeding them the solution. Guide, but let them earn success with the activity, whether it is doing the dishes, cooking breakfast, setting the hiking pace, etc. As a volunteer leader, you will be responsible for the students from before breakfast until bedtime. You will also be expected to help with after-dinner programming—night hikes, s’mores, scary stories, games, etc. The primary expectations we have of volunteers is that they come on our trips with an open mind, a desire to be outdoors and a desire to interact with a great group of people. Another thing we also always have to be aware of is that our students are being safe and are not harming themselves or anyone else.
The students have all been selected by their schools for displaying good behavior and have been identified as students that could benefit from their experience with The Woods Project. They are eager to participate, but are outside of their comfort zones so they will look to you as a volunteer mentor to display the proper behaviors throughout the experience. For most students, The Woods Project is their first exposure to spending extended time in the outdoors. The students range in ages from rising 9th graders to 12th graders attending university in the fall. Each school also sends out one or two teachers along with their students, so there will generally be an adult representative from the schools.
Yes, we strongly encourage people to bring their families and friends with them on our trips as long as you give us notice. In addition to the regular paperwork for all adults attending our trips, we have special forms that will need to be filled out for minors. Please contact us prior to the event to make sure you have filled out all of the necessary paperwork.
Some of our locations are pet friendly while others are not. If you would like to bring your four-legged friend with you, please contact us directly and we can let you know if they are allowed at the site you will be visiting.
We require a background check to be performed on ANY person that is coming out with our students. This is for their safety and we appreciate your cooperation with this policy.
Yes! Definitely! Our volunteers range from having never spent a night in the woods to others that have hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. All skills and abilities are welcome and encouraged to participate. If you enjoy working with students and like the outdoors, we can use your help!
No. While we require students to turn in all electronic devices, we do not require that of our leaders. We do, however, ask that use of electronics is limited while interacting with students. Please keep in mind that some locations we go to (especially in the summer) will not have internet or cell phone connections.
Yes! We will be offering several opportunities throughout the year to get involved in Houston without spending the night. One major event when we always need for volunteers is our annual Walk for The Woods Project. Please check our program calendar for up-to-date information about different opportunities. If you’d like to experience a weekend trip without spending the night, you are also welcome to come out for the day on Saturday to get a feel for our program and students.