Questions and answers about workcamps

How much does it cost to participate in a workcamp and why is there a fee?

The total participation fee for a camp in Switzerland is CHF 190, for a camp abroad CHF 240 and for an online workcamp CHF 190. If you are a student, retired or unemployed, a reduction of CHF 30 is granted; and if you are an asylum seeking person or a refugee, SCI Switzerland will cover your costs. Find more information here.

This fee includes the annual membership, the administrative expenses and the SCI insurance.

Why pay for volunteering?

SCI Switzerland is a certified non-profit organisation. In order to organise and arrange volunteer placements, as well as for the preparation and follow-up of volunteers and camp coordinators, we rely on participation fees, membership fees and donations. The participation fee covers only a small part of the real expenses. SCI Switzerland is mainly supported by its long-standing members and donors, as well as by state funding. Furthermore, SCI Switzerland realises the workcamps mainly with the help of the local project partners.

Find more information about why our programmes are not for free in this document.

Why is there an extra fee for some workcamps?

These fees have nothing to do with SCI Switzerland. The reason for extra costs is because some of our project partners do not have enough resources to cover all the costs and they ask for a little contribution to carry on with their projects. In case your workcamp has an extra fee, this is mentioned in the concrete camp description in the workcamp database.

Can I join two (or more) workcamps?

Yes, you can. But you will have to fill two (or more) different application forms in the workcamp database. Keep in mind that you only have to pay the membership fee once a year (so this amount will be deducted from the price in the second and all the following workcamps in the same year)!

Do I need previous experience? 

No, you usually only need motivation! But there are some specific workcamps where special knowledge or skills are requested. If it is the case, you will find it in the camp description under the point of requirements.

Do I have to attend a previous training?

If you are a minor, it is mandatory that you participate in a Pre-departure training from SCI. The Pre-departure training is also compulsory for people joining workcamps or LTV projects in the so-called Global South.

SCI Switzerland offers around 3 trainings per year (in autumn, in spring and in early summer). Find all the information here: 

Do I need to speak English?

In most of the SCI workcamps, English is the camp language. But this is not the case in all of the workcamps, so check the camp language carefully in the camp description.

Even if you do not need to have a perfect English level, we highly recommend at least to have a basic knowledge, because it will allow you to understand e.g. work instructions and to communicate with other volunteers and the project partner. Be honest with yourself, and be aware that there are of course different ways to communicate!

How do I find my workcamp?

You can use our workcamps finder (or instead of finder: search engine?), called OPS (Online Placing System). It is possible to filter the camps by dates, country, subject matter, etc. Or you can contact us and we will help you!

I want to do a camp in summer, why can’t I find a workcamp?

The search engine shows you all the workcamps available starting tomorrow. It is a constantly evolving database, every day workcamps that are already full disappear and new workcamps appear as they are published and become available. If you want to join workcamps in summer, keep in mind that around March/April  the camps are published on the search engine and maybe if you look earlier you will find only few.

What happens if I cancel my participation in a workcamp after having paid?

If you cancel at the beginning of the camp, do not show up without notice, or leave the workcamp early, we will have to charge you the full fee for the workcamp. In case of cancellation up to three weeks before the start of the workcamp, we will charge you 60% of the participation fee (for later cancellations 80% of the participation fee). If you change your mind after the successful application and want rebook for another workcamp, we will charge you a replacement fee of CHF 50.  

Is the membership fee refundable?

No, it is not, as every member has the right to participate in other workcamps throughout the year in addition to participating in the rest of the SCI’s volunteering and activities.

Can I go with a friend?

We advise you to participate alone in a camp, as we observed that the lived experience and openness towards the group is much better. If you still want to participate in a workcamp together with another person, we advise you to make the request as soon as possible. You can send us a mail and explain us that you would like to do it together and specify it also in your application forms. You should also keep in mind that the process could take longer and that in the end it is up to the hosting organization, whether they accept both of you or not.

Can I go with my children?

Yes! There are family-friendly workcamps! It is always explained in the camp description. Make sure of the minimum age allowed for each camp, because it may change.

Can I participate in a workcamp if I am under the age of 18?

Yes, but not in all of them. In the workcamp search engine you must choose under “further options/Weitere Optionen”the International volunteers under 18 option to see the available camps. You will need the authorization of your legal guardians, and you will also have to attend a Pre-departure training.

When do I buy the ticket?

We suggest you to do it as soon as your place in the workcamp is confirmed. SCI Switzerland accepts no liability for travel tickets that were already purchased (in case of cancellation of a workcamp).

What do I need to bring?

Don’t worry, you will find this information in the info sheet you will receive once registered, as it depends on the work and on the accommodation conditions.

Do I have an insurance during the workcamp?

You are automatically insured by the SCI insurance during the days of your workcamp (not during your travel days though).

Do I need to have a VISA?

It depends on the country you travel to. You can check it with the embassy of the country. In case you would need an invitation letter, the SCI hosting branch or partner will provide you with it.

What do you need to know about workcamps?

The SCI camps are hosted by a local project partner that develops a project according to the needs of the territory and its population. The local project partner organises the camps in collaboration with the branches and partners of the SCI network.

There are workcamps with many different themes: choose the ones that motivate you the most!

The workcamp is divided into three parts: the work part, the study part and the leisure hours.

The group of volunteers is heterogeneous (we try not to have more than 2 people per origin), and is coordinated by a local volunteer.

Who can participate?

People from the age of 16 and without a maximum age resident in Switzerland.

From the age of 16 you can participate in camps in Switzerland and the so-called Global North*. To participate in camps in the so-called Global South* you must be at least 18 years.

Children and young people under the age of 16 can participate accompanied by their legal guardians in family camps.

There are Workcamps adapted for people with reduced mobility.

*This distinction is made to guarantee, through our Pre-departure training, that the relationships drawn between the volunteers and the local entities are in terms of equality and anti-colonialism.

How do I register and what do I have to pay?

Registration is done online through the workcamp search engine. Here we explain the steps: 

The journey to the camp is at the expense of the volunteer.

Generally, the costs of food and accommodation during the stay are included in the fee. However, there are workcamps that have an extra fee.