What is it like to be on a Caribbean Volunteer Expeditions trip?

Each trip is different. You may want to read past newsletters to get a sense of our different projects. Here is a quote from one of our volunteers...

"My CVE experience on St. John was fantastic! We had a good little group of six people. We stayed at the NPS interns' campsite within the Cinnamon Bay campground, part of the Virgin Islands National Park. The campsite was very comfortable and just moments from one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen! The interns were very friendly and showed us the ropes of both camping life and our archaeology work, which was very rewarding. We worked four days- two on Hassel Island, one at the campground, and one at a very remote site called Beaverhoutsberg, where three very large feral pigs paid us a visit! Evenings were spent over leisurely dinners and relaxing in camp.

Other than the noseeums that bit my feet many times, it was a perfect week! I look forward to participating in more CVE trips in the future."

How long is a typical trip? What is the day like?

Most of our trips range from five days to one week. Generally, we work on historical projects Monday through Friday,  starting the work project around 9:00 AM. We usually work from 3 to 5 hours, often with a picnic lunch in the field. In the afternoon, we arrange field trips to historic sites, or tours of the island. On many islands, participants can enjoy water sports, swimming and hiking.

During our week-long projects, Saturdays are generally a "free day" where volunteers can participate in swimming, islands tours, or visits to historic sites.

Trip leaders make sure there is plenty of time every day for relaxation and fun! We visit island highlights, as well as beaches and other natural outstanding features.

What type of work will I be doing?

Each project is different and the project description will include expected activities. The work is often outside, and weather varies depending on the location and time of year. It is generally in the 80's and can be humid, but there is usually a breeze. Some projects require physical effort, such as walking 30 minutes to the work site, clearing vegetation from ruins, painting, or plastering.

Past projects have included the following project categories and related tasks:

  • Building and cemetery surveys: Taking photographs, filling out forms, and mapping.
  • Drawing and Mapping: Measuring sites, drawing, and taking photographs.
  • Construction: Painting, light carpentry, or plastering.
  • Stabilization: Clearing vegetation from ruins and masonry repair.
  • Archaeology: Digging, sifting, and sorting.

How many volunteers might be on a trip at one time?

Trip sizes range considerably. Past trips have included anywhere from two to twelve volunteers.

Who leads the trips?

Our projects are run by a CVE "group leader" who is experienced in leading this type of project. We also work with a local agency, such as the National Park Service, the Historical Society, or the National Trust of a particular island. Participants get to meet local island people who are involved with preservation and cultural resources.

How much does it cost to be a volunteer? What is included?

Costs depend on the site and island. Check with the individual project for the fees.

On CVE trips, there is often a general fee to cover the CVE group leader. Participants also pay for their own lodging, food, and share of the local transportation. Again, airfare is not included.

CVE arranges the lodging place, which may be a hotel, guest house, upscale camping, or a rental villa. The trip you sign up for will specify what to expect in terms of arranging meals. But we generally try to prepare our own breakfasts and lunches are usually a picnic in the field. Dinners are held in local restaurants. We like to sample the local cuisine whenever possible.

Do I need previous experience?

It is not necessary to have any previous experience. We train people in the field, if needed. We try to utilize skills and preferences of our volunteers, such as photography, drawing, carpentry, and various computer programs.

Why volunteer?

Our projects give you a deeper look at the Caribbean's rich and fascinating history that includes the original native Americans, settlers from all parts of Europe, Africa, and East India.

You are able to meet local people and experts who are involved with history and preservation in the Caribbean. It is a unique opportunity to learn about an island's history and culture from local sources.

It is a chance to make a difference. CVE projects center around architecture and sites that might otherwise be lost to history.

Meet others who share your interests and make new connections. CVE groups are a way to connect with like-minded volunteers--those who want to veer off the tourist path and try something new.