Camps International

Camps International

About

Camps International are an award-winning volunteer trip provider. We run meaningful gap year volunteer programs across Africa, Asia and South America. Unlike other providers, we own and run permanent camps, we employ local people to staff our camps and build sustainably in local style.

Our camps are co-located alongside rural communities, so you become part of the culture, not just an observer of it. We don't believe in "token" projects; we listen to the needs of each individual community, so that you can feel confident working on the projects that they believe are needed.

Built in to your program will be plenty of time to explore you amazing destination country; laze on stunning beaches, explore mystic temples, spot the 'big 5' on safari, kayak crystal waters, trek through steamy jungles, try delicious street food, haggle in bustling markets or just chill by the camp fire!

Founded
2002
Headquarters

Unit 10 Kingfisher Park, Headlands Business Park
Ringwood
Hampshire
BH24 3NX
United Kingdom

Scholarships Available

Apply for our Camps Changemaker Scholarship and receive up to £560 towards the volunteering programme of your choice.

Reviews

Default avatar
Sammy
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Overall, the month in Ecuador was an amazing experience. Unfortunately, the activities and camps were completely different to what I was advertised. Therefore, when I was out there I had to accept the fact that the trip wasn’t what I expected but it was still a once in a lifetime experience. From my experience I would try contact the actual camp Ecuador office and leaders over in Ecuador to get a better itinerary of your trip before you leave, due to the UK office falsely advertising the trip.
However, all food was amazing and chefs were very nice, with a lot of safety presented by camps, with over night security and camp leaders following during the day. Thoroughly enjoyed the trip but definitely less R&R days in this camps international trip than others

What would you improve about this program?
Make sure that the advertised trip is closer to what is actually completed whilst out there
Default avatar
Ewa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

First Day:
I was originally supposed to go to Kenya for 1 month (July). Unfortunately, Nairobi was unsafe at the time so we were relocated to Tanzania. The first day was a complete culture shock. We drove for about 6 hours to get to our camp, stopping for toilet breaks where the conditions were rather interesting (hole in the ground type of interesting). On our drive to the camp, I don't remember seeing more than 2 sets of traffic lights...there weren't that many cars around, so traffic was generally not an issue. However, on the odd occasion that we stopped, there were locals trying to sell us fruit and corn etc, which were extremely overpriced. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the currency before buying anything....my poor friend bought a pear for $6 !!

Once we arrived at the camp, everybody was extremely friendly, energetic and happy. There was a already a group of volunteers there who arrived a month before us, who, on most part, were great...but played a few pranks on us newbies (guess we were too gullible).

Location and Housing:
The camp was located on a cliff overlooking the beach. We each had a mattress and mosquito net in an army tent of 6 people. I know it's Africa, but the nights do get cold so don't forget to pack a jumper! There were outdoor showers only - it was pretty cool looking at the sky while in the shower.

Food:
We ate in a communal dining room. We were provided with 3 meals per day.
Breakfast - tea/coffee, omelette/toast/fried eggs/fruit/cereal/pancakes.
Lunch - pasta/potato/chapati/rice with a little meat and cooked veg/salad. One thing I'd improve would be to include more vegetables. Fruit for dessert.
Evening meal - same options as lunch - varied daily.

But you could go to the local supermarket to get extra snacks/food you wanted. It was a short taxi ride away.

Safety:
There were 2 guards at night around our camp each night. I felt very safe in the area we were in.

The local community:
The children would follow us around the village, they were extremely energetic and happy. Because white people, 'muzungus' are rare in Tanzania, we felt sort of like celebrities - children would shout 'muzungu, muzungu' and try to speak English with you, take selfies, wear your glasses and bobbins etc. Warning: their energy levels never stop, so be prepared to be exhausted.

Tanzanian Time:
This is so so so so important!! When someone says they'll be ready at 6am, it doesn't necessarily mean 6am. The attitude is 'pole pole', meaning 'slowly slowly'. Tanzanian 6 am could be 8am or even 9am. It is whatever time, as long as everyone is ready. There is never any rush in Tanzania, so do not get annoyed if someone is 5 minutes 'late'.

Washing:
You can hand wash your clothes, or give a local 'mama' your dirty laundry and 5-10 dollars to do it for you.

Projects:
There was no stress involved. Each one of us was assigned to a different project - making a toilets for the local school, painting classrooms and walls, building a hut for the 'mama' in the village. Nobody rushed us, we got help if we needed it. The school was a 30 minute walk from our camp. We worked Monday to Friday and had the weekends off.

Extra activities:
PADI
I booked the PADI Scuba Diving course, which was a 4 day course. We spent the first 2 days learning theory and practicing to breathe in the pool. The next 2 days we did an exam and went out into the ocean.
If you plan on continuing to scuba dive around the world and want to do it without an instructor, I'd recommend the course. However, if you just want to see life underwater once every now and again, a simple snorkeling trip is much cheaper and almost as good - ask the local fishermen to bring you to a neighboring island.

Safari
There was 1 safari tour included in the program. It was very touristy. However, we saw lions, hundreds of elephants, giraffes (which are extremely photogenic) among other wildlife and plants. We also had an option to book an additional safari - we did not see as many elephants or lions, but saw hippos and crocodiles. We stayed overnight in a national park and had a BBQ on the beach..would highly recommend it. The tour guide Boko was amazing.

In conclusion, if you want to make more of an impact in the community (by working on projects), and enjoy the chill Tanzanian lifestyle, I'd recommend staying for at least 2 months. 1 month was just not enough for me. Similarly, if you want to do additional activities (e.g. Kilimanjaro), one month is not enough. I made sooo many new friends, some of which I am still in contact with today (4 years later!!).

I made a list of things I'd bring next time:
-pictures of my house, family and where I grew up to show the locals in the village what a completely different world you live in.
-speakers
-shoes you don't mind throwing away
-sports bra
-football

In future I would book a volunteering experience with a non-profit organisation. I feel like the real reason we helped the community is by providing jobs for locals (cooks, cleaners, tour guides, gift shop owners, security guards etc.). How many of us have actually built a house or toilet before??? Some of the locals also learned English by speaking to us tourists, which is a huge positive. However, the cost of the trip seemed a little excessive considering we were staying in tents, and needed few expensive project resources (paint, cement, wheelbarrows, spades...). Nonetheless, the whole experience was great and I have zero regrets.

What would you improve about this program?
Provide more vegetables at mealtime
Read my full story
Default avatar
Danielle
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My time in Kenya was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. The Kenyan staff on camp were marvelous at welcoming us into their environment and making us feel at home. Everyone I had the pleasure of meeting during my 1 month out there was so incredibly friendly, helpful and really interested in me and where I'd come from. The people of Kenya are so respectful and honorable and throughout my whole trip I felt at home. The group I was on camp with couldn't have been a better bunch of people. We all got on so well and, along with our camp leaders 'Mama' and 'Baba', we became one big, happy family who looked after each other and cared for one another. On reflection, the thing I noticed most about my trip was that I had simply been happy the whole time and with every new thing that I learned and the amount at which I grew as a person; I've realised this trip changed me as a person for the better and opened my eyes to a whole new, fantastic world.

Default avatar
Eleanor
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved Peru as a country and with camps you get to really immerse yourselfs in the community life of the indeginous people and truly be a part of these special communities . The people on camps with me became like a family to me over the 3months couldn't have had more fun. The great thing is you get to be part and help these communities but also get to see the amazing cities in Peru on the weekends and have the freedom to explore . I would 100% recommend you do worth while long lasting work and get to enjoy this amazing country at the same time .

What would you improve about this program?
I would add more time in Cuzco because it's such an amazing city and you need time to appreciate it . Also maybe try and add a bit more variety in the work I did a lot of plastering work .
Default avatar
Katie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had an amazing time - we only had a small team but Camp Cambodia told me in advance and gave me the opportunity to change it or stick as it was.

The two support staff were lovely. It was such a great thing to have people who live in the village to help with the project who wanted to help! They even let me go meet their family which was lovely. I really felt I was making a difference.

The second part of the trip was in the city with a tour guide - was fantastic and so flexible (probably because we had such a small group!) but it was incredible to have such a plan!

I would definitely recommend it.

What would you improve about this program?
I wasn't 100% keen on the food - be prepared for lots of rice and fried potato.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Ewa Ostapczuk

Ewa is a final year student in Human Nutrition and Dietetics. She tends to do things in the wrong order, or the opposite to everyone else. After her Leaving Certificate exams, instead of joining her friends on a party holiday, she flew to volunteer in Tanzania.

photo of a man riding a motor cycle

Why did you choose this program?

The answer is very simple. The more I thought about participating in a volunteering program, the more I wanted to give it a shot. One day in class, I was talking to a friend about our summer plans. She told me that she had just booked a volunteering experience in Tanzania. I asked her to send me the link, and the next day I simply said: 'Anna, I'm going with you'. It didn't take much convincing.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Camps International is the agency that organized the trip. They took care of a lot of things - transport, accommodation, food, activities, projects for us to get involved in. They also provided us with very useful information about what to expect, culture differences, what to bring, recommended vaccines etc.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Use your weekends wisely. Do something every single weekend. Save up as much money as possible so you can spend your weekends doing extra activities like climbing Kilimanjaro, scuba diving, snorkeling, going on a safari etc.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average weekday (Monday-Friday) we would have breakfast at 8am. By the time everybody was ready to leave, it was about 9am. We walked to the local school where all of the projects we were doing were - building the mama's house, making toilets for the school, refurbishing classrooms and the walls of the school. We got to work at 9:30-10am.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Honestly, I was more excited than scared. I have a lot of trust in people so I don't usually get scared, other than the fear of getting scammed as a new fresh-off-the-plane tourist.

I think my biggest shock was the first day. We got into our truck at the airport, and the driver kept saying 'one dollar, one dollar' so we would tip him for helping us with our bags. Important to note: tipping is expected. When we drove to the hotel where we would be spending the first night. We drove through villages and saw extreme poverty all around us. The culture and scenery was VERY different to western Europe. On top of that, we (the volunteers) didn't know each other yet and everybody was a little scared.

Do you have any last tips for future volunteers going to Tanzania?

Why of course I do.

  • 1. Bring enough sunscreen. It is quite expensive there as tourists are the only ones who buy and use it.
  • 2. If you like to travel, stay for more than a month - your time will fly by. I have to say, I was not at all home sick. I just occasionally missed my friends and family.
  • 3. Book return flights for a later date so you have time to travel a little more after the end of the program.
  • 4. Get used to Tanzanian time - 6 am can mean 6:05 am or 9 am.
  • 5. When entering someone's property, it is considered rude if you don't greet every single person there.
  • 6. Write a travel journal - write down the funny stories, the little details that you want to keep with you forever, and people's names and contact information!! You'd be surprised how easy it is to forget someone's name after just a few years.
  • 7. For more details about housing, food, extra activities and my thoughts on how we really impacted the community...check out my review 'So good I would go back' https://www.gooverseas.com/organization/camps-international-reviews
More Interviews

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Jimena Alexandra Quimbita Collaguazo

Job Title
Operations Leader Ecuador
Jimena is a young Ecuadorian woman who is willing to always learn and become an improved version of herself. Jimena has been speaking English for the last 12 years and has been always dedicated to learn more languages. She has also studied International Business. She is always willing to learn about culture, music and anything related to work with people. She has an ability to have a big smile on her face and always treat people with respect. She likes a lot the outdoors and enjoys a new challenge.
woman in children in ecuador

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory is back to April 2015 and I had the opportunity to visit my Camps colleagues in Borneo. This was amazing from the beginning as it was a complete different culture that I am used to, but I felt welcomed since the beginning. It was like seeing family in the other side of the world. We shared good times when talking, visiting places, doing project work, and what was more wonderful is when in Camp Bongkud I decided to cook some traditional Ecuadorian food and the crew also made very Malay traditional food, everyone was doing something while we were singing along and then suddenly we started dancing in the kitchen. It was indeed one truly magical moment when the gaps between culture got forgotten and we just all shared the fact of being together and being happy.

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

I like my country a lot and tourism has developed more in the last decade although it is not as good as it should be yet, it has come to a moment when every person who visits Ecuador gets truly amazed by the fact that in a such small country you can find variety only in few hours distance. As underrated I'd say the highlands of Ecuador in provinces like Cotopaxi should be explored more as it gives gorgeous scenery due to its landscape, mountains, hills surrounded by hardworking people who have learnt to leave with Cotopaxi volcano in the background. By the other hand, The Galapagos Island is "overrated", hundreds or even thousands of people visit it every year, but different shouldn't be expected as this place is magical everywhere you see around.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Nowadays people have become less humans, most companies around the world focus on generating income, but this just brings happiness to the pocket but not to the hearts, and being part of Camps have shown me the other side of companies, because the social awareness is what is worthier in a world where the vision has changed. Helping others in need brings retribution to the own company standards and this can lead to a more successful company.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

When I joined Camps, I wasn't quite sure what adventure would arise in my life, before, I was more of a city woman living the city life with not so much outdoors activities, but then my life suddenly changed one day and I saw myself leading a group of your adult volunteers doing project work in a rural community in an amazing place that I never knew its existence and it was in my own country. I've discovered skills I didn't know I had like independence, decision making, risk avoiding, being friendly and welcoming but with respect, appreciate the innocence of children and even do my own laundry in the river.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

Working for Camps has being a good place to develop myself as a professional and one the biggest quality I'd name is the trust and confidence we are given in our roles in the company because in this way (with consultancy with the bosses), we are always free to give ideas and make decisions.

Camps is a place that shapes leaders in the most complete way because the situations never are the same and the challenges create a stronger character.

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of your current team.

I feel proud of be part of Camps because I believe our product (the projects) are extremely worthy and can generate a very positive change in the life of the people of the communities where work, and especially the children live as they can get inspired by the intercultural exchange achieved with the presence of our volunteer and in a future these children can be motivated to study more, dream more and aspire more in life rather than only becoming a very young mother or father.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

In the years I have worked for Camps, I have heard many different stories, for some even when they are still in Ecuador, many value more what they have at home and create a more social awareness. I think it would be unfair to just name one as there are many stories from our young volunteers whose studies after volunteering in Ecuador, have decided to study Medicine or Nutrition in order to come back to less developed countries and help people is poor communities.

More Interviews

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