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New Voluntours: Elephants in Thailand & Dolphins in Egypt

Photo: EarthWatch

There are exciting new volunteer vacations popping up these days. One of the leaders of the industry, Earthwatch, has announced two new research-based voluntour opportunities.

In Northern Thailand, near Chiang Rai, be part of groundbreaking cognitive research of Asian elephants to help professionals understand how they communicate, recognize family members and places, and how they interact with other species (including humans). The research team is studying elephant intelligence and behavior, and you’ll be working up close and personally with these astounding pachyderms. You’ll live in a guesthouse for the 10-day assignment, within easy walking distance from the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, where this landmark research is being done.

Photo: EarthWatch

While the tensions have once again erupted in Cairo’s squares, the Egyptian Red Sea is still a calm environment, where 15 species of dolphin cavort in nearly pristine waters. Marine pollution, however, is creeping in, so scientists need to get a clear picture of the cetacean populations and how they interact with their habitat so they can put protection measures into place before irreparable damage is done. This is where you come in as you help researchers with boat-based visual and acoustic observation work to gather data, as well as surveying sea turtles, jellyfish, and seabirds while living on a safari boat. It is a 10-day trip in amazing surroundings.

Let’s Go!

Camp Schmamp

Are there teenagers in your home (or circle of friends) looking for summer plans? If you’ve got camp lanyards and wallets enough to last a lifetime, and the staff at Camp OkieFanokie defers to your judgment because you’ve been around longer than any of them…seek an alternative that can really make a difference for the teen, and the rest of us.

Earthwatch (one of my very favorite volunteer vacation organizations with amazing service trips for adults, teens, and families) still has some slots open for their brilliant, summertime Teen Expeditions. From their website: Join an Earthwatch teen expedition and you’ll work alongside experienced scientists at the cutting edge of conservation research, gaining first-hand knowledge of and trying to find real and achievable solutions to some of today’s most pressing environmental challenges.

You’ll connect with other young people who share your passion and energy for conservation, immerse yourself in new cultures, see some of the world’s most spectacular places, and help to conserve them.

How about options like: Studying pink river dolphins, monkeys, and other wildlife in the Peruvian Amazon; an archaeological dig in Britain discovering Roman ruins; working with rare carnivores in Madagascar; studying climate change on habitats near the Arctic Circle; working with scientists and coffee farmers in Costa Rica; monitoring mammal populations in Nova Scotia; Caribbean sea life study in Belize; biodiversity work in Kenya; protecting Grey Whales in British Columbia, and more. The work is true and productive, with leaders in the scientific field. It is usually a commitment of less than 2 weeks (trips vary) and is super-professionally managed and catered to the age of the participants with education and exploration, and experiences that just don’t happen at the run-of-the-mill swimming hole…and CERTAINLY offers more than a summertime of facebook and Wii.