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On the Project

How to join a GBT project

If you want to participate in one of our projects, please take the following steps::

1. Choose a Project: Go to “Projects” section on the website, and read the project descriptions carefully. Please read the FAQs

2. Fill out Your Application: Go to the “Volunteer Application Form” and accurately complete the form. Kindly wait for an e-mail from our project coordinator and if you do not hear from us within 3 to 5 days, please directly contact the coordinator at projects@greatbaikaltrail.org

3. Get to the Project: Volunteers must arrange and purchase their own travel tickets and get to the meeting point (to be indicated by the coordinator) independently. You must apply for a visa, and we can provide an official invitation for a 30 day tourist visa. If you need your visa registered, we suggest that you arrive one day before the project starts. Volunteers are expected to arrive at the meeting point on time.

4. At the project: GBT provides volunteers with all the group equipment and tools (tents, tarps, cooking equipment, first aid kit, insect repellent sprays, etc). Please read the “Necessary Equipment List”. We also sign the contracts and get the necessary permissions from local authorities to get all the necessary permits from the parks. You will be accompanied by trained volunteer crew leaders and interpreters, who will manage the project.

What a Project is Like

A standard GBT project lasts two weeks, which volunteers spend living in tents, taking turns to cooking meals over a campfire, and working five days a week, 5-6 hours a day depending on the weather. Depending on a project, it may take a while to reach the work site from the camp site. There are days off, which give volunteers a chance to go hiking, visit places of interest in the local area, or just relax.

Here are some of the main types of work that our summer volunteers perform in building and maintaining our trails.

A Typical Day in the Life of a GBT Volunteer

Standard Working Day Schedule:

• 8:30am - 9am - Wake up
• 9am - 10am - Breakfast
• 10am - 1pm – Trail work with snack break
• 1pm - 3pm – Lunch and siesta
• 3pm – 6pm – Resume Trail work with snack break
• 6:30pm – Night - Dinner, free time or group activities

Please remember that projects may vary!

If it is your day to cook you start your day earlier to prepare breakfast, but you and a cooking partner have the day off from trail work.

In the first days of the project you will learn proper tool use, trail building techniques, and safety, as well as sustainable camping methods.

In the morning before leaving for the work site the crew meets to discuss the day’s work and distribute tools. The crew maybe divided into teams for trail work to accomplish different tasks, such as trail clearing, bridge construction, or trail building.

There will be many opportunities for cultural exchange and sharing stories and experiences.
The 2 weeks include arrival and departure days, 10 work days and 2 days off. Depending on weather conditions and the group's physical condition, the crew leader has the right to change the approved schedule.

What’s for Dinner?: Please read the “Sample Menu
What do I need to Bring?: Read the “Necessary Equipment List” for a complete packing list.

An Example Diary Entry for a Typical Day on the Project:

Morning

…it's already 9 am. The camp is slowly waking up to the tasty smell of kasha, a traditional Russian hot cereal, in the morning air. Today it also definitely smells like rice made with milk - a wonderful delicacy, especially when you have it with a dash of cinnamon. For volunteers on cooking duty today is a special day since they had to get up before everyone els to prepare breakfast for everyone.

At breakfast time everybody gathers at the campfire. It's so pleasant to sit on a wooden bench with a warm plate of cereal in your hands, taking in the sun's tender morning rays and watching them sparkle in the morning dew.

It’s approaching 10am and time to get ready for work—find your gloves somewhere in the depth of your tent, pull your cap on, and lace up your boots a little tighter. All volunteers gather around their team leader. The people on cooking duty receive their last instructions - they will stay at the camp site, so that lunch will be ready by the time the hungry crew comes back from working on the trail…

Day

The team leader examines the group, reminds everyone of the safety procedures, presents today's schedule, and distributes work tools. Now that everyone is ready, the group can go to the work site.

Three hours of work await them. The group splits into smaller teams; someone is clearing the trail corridor from vegetation, while others are constructing steps or building a small bridge across a small stream. Sometimes the work becomes difficult… It takes a lot of force to remove a big tree that fell onto the trail; the tree has to be cut up into smaller parts, which then must carried away.

The bridge building team is ready to put down the first logs for the bridge. This is not easy work, but instead of doing it all alone, a member of the team calls on others to help, and gets it done quickly, having fun all the while.

The first three hours of work pass quickly, with a pause for snacks in the middle; and then it is time to return to camp. In some projects it's leisure time from 1 to 3 p.m. Others sometimes prolong it to 4pm because of the hot weather that sometimes hits us – but first everyone wants to have lunch! All that work gives our volunteers a voracious appetite.

After lunch you can relax, get a tan, go for a swim, eat some wild berries, go fishing, or just hang out and talk to each other.
(Additional note: Please remember to follow the park rules!)

After two hours of rest, with renewed energy, it is time to go back to work. Three more hours and then everyone exhausted but happy returns to camp.

Evening

… dinner is ready! Dinner is longed reward after a long day of hard work and it is impossible to tear the guys and girls away from the tea and sweets, as usual. No worries, they deserve it.

The dinner smoothly turns into a night spent hanging out by the campfire. Volunteers start telling stories about different countries and discussing unusual differences about their cultures. That's when the interpreter has to work especially hard, trying to follow all the conversations and translate them from one language to another.

Yesterday, everyone celebrated the American Independence Day, and international flags made by the volunteers especially for this holiday, are still decorating the camp site.

Once again no one wants to say good night and split up until next morning. The only consolation is that tomorrow is a new day; it's hard to believe that it is day number six of the project already.

Tomorrow is one of our off days, and so the group is getting ready to leave for a two-day hiking trip. But that is a different story altogether…