International Youth Association EstYES is a non-profit, non-political, non-governmental organisation. It was established in 1991 with the purpose of promoting youth and cultural exchanges for learning and better mutual understanding. EstYES was a pioneer organisation in the field of international youth voluntary service in Estonia.
EstYES organises short-term voluntary projects in Estonia, usually known as workcamps. These workcamps involve international volunteers and focus on local development within Estonia. They provide an excellent and alternative method of getting to know Estonia and are a great opportunity to participate in a publicly beneficial project.
Volunteers who participate in EstYES workcamps come from many countries, mainly from Europe but many also come from further afield. Because of this each workcamp has a unique international feel and this creates an environment in which the volunteers can learn many things about other countries and cultures.
The projects aim to support local development and might take place in small villages, close-knit communities, in the countryside or in urban areas. Such activities can contribute to the regeneration of particular areas and can support the activities of local residents and non-governmental organisations. Furthermore volunteers also serve to promote the idea of voluntary service within Estonia especially among young people.
Importantly, all the people involved in a project have an opportunity to meet personally, and live and work together, for a short period of time. Workcamps are a great opportunity to make new friends from all over the world.
ESTYES annually receives approximately 300 short-term volunteers from all over the world. They can choose from around 40 projects from a variety of urban and rural areas of Estonia.
Workcamps usually last 2-3 weeks and take place between June and September. Usually the number of volunteers in the camp varies from 3 to 15. We try to avoid having more than two people of the same nationality in one camp. English is normally the camp language. As a rule volunteers have to work 5-7 hours a day, for 5-6 days a week, for the benefit of the local community. The project hosts provide food and accommodation as well as cultural activities in return.
Volunteers should be over 18 years old, except in teenage camps where participants are 15-17 years old. There is no maximum age limit. Usually there are no special skills required from volunteers, except for those camps that work with children. Please note that for children’s camps the minimum volunteer age is 20. Participants should be motivated to undertake voluntary work, be ready for the realities of local life, be flexible and be open for the new experiences. In some camps a motivation letter is required from the volunteer.
In the camp there are usually 1-2 leaders, whose task is to be work coordinators and the link between participants and the host. Leaders participate in daily life equally with volunteers.
Roughly there are four types of projects:
- Construction and manual work: for example laying out of gardens, restoring a building, general maintenance work etc.
- Nature preservation work: for example working in hay fields, cleaning ditches or forest maintenance etc.
- Social work: for example organizing activities for children, refugees or disabled people etc.
- Cultural work: for example working at a festival site.
Besides working, there is plenty of time for leisure activities and for the volunteers to get to know each other better. Volunteers can take a trip to the city or visit a national park. You could discuss cultural prejudices in a traditional Estonian sauna and follow it up with a midnight swim in a beautiful forest lake. Volunteering in EstYes project really is a unique way to get to know Estonia.
How to apply?
Have a look at available Estonian camps HERE.
Please note: it is the policy of EstYES not to accept direct applications from incoming volunteers in countries where EstYES has partner organisations. We therefore encourage you to apply for participation in Estonian projects through our partners in your country.
The list of our partner organisations can be found below:
In case you can not find a sending partner organisation in your country, please contact us for assistance – Aleksandr Kurushev, [email protected]