Balancing school work and preparations for your Outreach Trip can be difficult, so we conveniently place everything you need to know online. Once you sign up for an Outreach Trip you’re given access to your very own Outreach Trip account on our volunteer portal.
Here you’ll be able to complete our health and safety training, review our Policies and Procedures, and learn about the highs and lows of volunteering abroad. Through our Pre Departure Webinar, you’ll learn about culture shock and how to treat it, and how to respect and connect with your host community.
Your Trip Leader will organize Pre Departure Meetings for you to review your specific trip itinerary, trip logistics, and meet the rest of your group!
SOS works exclusively with registered organizations in every country we work in to not only ensure the efficiency of our projects, but to ensure our volunteers have the best experience.
Our partnering organizations are leaders in community development and have an established relationship with your host community. They prepare the accommodations, transportation, and itinerary for your group to suit the host community’s needs and structures. They have experience working with international volunteers and provide every group with a bilingual Trip Leader (more below).
TWO Trip LEADERS!
Every group is assisted by TWO Trip Leaders:
NGO Trip Leader
The NGO Trip Leader is a bilingual staff member of the organization who knows local safety systems, the community, the culture, and how to assist a group of international volunteers. Your NGO Trip Leader will pick you up at the airport and be with the group 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the entire duration of your SOS Outreach Trip.
They are responsible for coordinating with the community members and the foreman to oversee the successful execution of the project. They assist in mitigating any concerns between the community and the volunteer group and are there to provide guidance in emergency situations.
SOS Trip Leader
Your SOS Trip Leader is a student from your travel group who has volunteered to take on a leadership role. The Trip Leader is responsible for communicating between the volunteer group and the community, and between the volunteer group and SOS. Before you depart, they’ll do their best to help you prepare for the journey and organize meet-ups for the whole group.
Trip Leaders undergo an 8 week training intensive with SOS’s Head Office in Toronto. During that time they learn about culture shock and it’s remedies, how to facilitate discussion, the dynamics of team building, and so much more.
On the Outreach Trip, your SOS Trip Leader is your first point of contact should you have any questions or concerns. Your volunteer group will likely be a big one, so it’s important to use your Trip Leader as a source of information before going to anyone else. Your Trip Leader is also in charge of facilitating nightly reflections and exercises so you can understand the bigger impact your Outreach Trip is having in the world. They’ll lead you through a deep process of unwrapping concepts like poverty and privilege, and the impact they have on you.
Your host community has been waiting for you for over a year before you arrive, as we start our review and preparation process long before your trip. We ensure each of our communities are able to safely host and support volunteers and equip them with the resources to do so. SOS projects typically take place in a community where a SOS group has been before, so they know what to expect.
We kindly ask that if you choose to embark on a SOS Outreach Trip you are ready to ensure that the utmost respect goes into every decision you make regarding the Outreach Trip. From your reasons to signing up in the first place, to the clothes you pack, to the activities you do with the community, we must respect their culture and their wishes. SOS volunteers are always guests in our host communities, and we expect our volunteer to act in accordance with the hospitality you would expect of a guest in your own home.
It is important to SOS to promote integration and collaboration between international volunteers and local communities. Outreach Trip Volunteer Groups sleep in available community structures (classrooms, community centers, etc.), and live as close to the conditions of the community as possible. We believe this encourages a greater understanding of the lives and conditions of the community members, which ultimately results in more genuine, mutually-beneficial working relationships.
This means that your logistics are similar to camping – but just indoors! You’ll have to bring a sleeping bag, a pillow, a mat, and live out of your bag for the two week trip. SOS will provide all volunteers with clean drinking water and meals, but hot water will be scarce and there will be no air conditioning.
Many of the communities we work in have limited access to electricity, running water and the basic amenities you may be used to in your daily life. We know that living in the conditions of the community makes the experience and the lessons learned more impactful and valuable. You will be challenged in ways that, while not affecting your safety or security, will create an opportunity for growth and education.That being said, we want you to be informed every step of the way. We communicate expectations from both parties well before arrival so that everyone involved can prepare.
Standard Build Days
Of your 14 day trip, 2 days will be spent travelling in and out of your host country, and 2 days will be spent on Rest Days (more below). The majority of your trip days will be Standard Build Days.
A Standard Rest Day looks like this:
7:00am – Wake Up, eat breakfast, get ready for the day
8:00am – On the worksite ready to get to work!
8:00 am to Noon – Build!
Noon to 1:00pm – Lunch
1:00pm to 3:00pm – Build!
3:00pm to 5:00pm – Community Activities (half are planned by SOS volunteers!)
5:00pm to 6:00pm – Unwind, and get ready for dinner!
6:00pm to 7:30pm – Dinner
8:00pm to 9:00pm – Nightly Facilitation and Discussion
9:00am to 10:00pm – Free group time!
You won’t work every day! Our partnering organization will organize two Rest Days for your group to relax and learn more about the culture of your host community and country. These activities are NOT included in your participant fee. Planning to bring between $200.00 CAD should be sufficient, but we will confirm with you in advance! In the past SOS volunteers have gone on boat rides, to beaches, to cultural heritage sites, to markets, to ancient ruins, and more. Sometimes SOS groups will spend a night in a hostel on their way to the airport before flying home.
The Rest Day fee will include: transportation to and from the activity and community, entrance fees, supervision, and, if applicable, guided tours and hostel stays. A suggested budget for meals on rest days will also be given, but how much is spent on food is of the participant’s’ discretion.
Leading up to your trip, you’ll be in constant communication with your SOS Trip Leader, the rest of the students on your trip and SOS’s International Office. Your SOS Trip Leader will organize a series of pre-departure meetings to help you prepare for your Trip, and you’ll be asked to attend virtual meetings with SOS in Toronto! We’re always a phone call or email away to answer any questions that you have before you depart.
The communities where we work are remote and you will not have internet access . We do not encourage volunteers to take time away from interacting with the community to go to an internet cafe.
Should your family urgently need to get in touch with you we have an Outreach Trip Emergency Hotline number, monitored 24/7, that they can call. This number is to be used for emergencies only .