In its most common form, volunteer tourism (or “voluntourism”) finds mostly young people travelling to the developing world to assist in a variety of projects, from working in orphanages to digging wells for clean drinking water. The phenomenon has exploded, with numerous companies offering volunteer opportunities across the globe. Closer to home, however, one organization has a slightly different angle on this industry.
HistoriCorps, a nonprofit based in Denver, Colorado, engages volunteers to work on historic preservation projects on both public and private land here in the United States. They partner with government agencies such as the US Forest Service as well as historical preservation organizations to arrange trips for volunteers to help improve or maintain historic sites across the country. Projects last for weeks or months, broken down into short sessions to allow volunteers to make the most of their time. HistoriCorps’ executive director, Townsend Anderson, explains, “It has really become a gateway, if you will, that historic preservation has never had before. It is introducing many non-preservationists to historic preservation. HistoriCorps has offered, for me, the best opportunity I have had to teach a preservation ethic.”