Volunteering on Wales’ Tall Ship – why people volunteer

We always get people contacting the Challenge Wales office, or meeting us when we are hosting an Open Boat event who are interested in volunteering. And, we are always looking for volunteers – as the charity grows and we do more work, we need more assistance to deliver our work and as a predominantly volunteer-run charity means we wouldn’t be where we are without volunteers.

So to start… what is the definition of volunteering? Volunteering is an activity that involves spending time, unpaid, helping and benefiting others.

On Challenge Wales volunteering means; helping to sail the Challenge Wales sail training vessel, it means helping young people to hoist the sails, it means showing young people how to cook a healthy meal onboard, it means exploring new islands and taking part in new adventures,  it means sharing your life experiences with someone else, it means seeing dolphins (sometimes), and getting wet (now and again). Of course, if you opt for a shore-side volunteering role then you usually stay dry and the dolphins you get to see are on our photos!

Learning the ropes

Learning the ropes

Volunteering on Challenge Wales isn’t for everyone, but if you are looking to help young people in an innovative way then this could be an opportunity for you.

But why do people volunteer, what can they get out of being part of the Challenge Wales volunteer team?

  • They make a difference to young people’s lives and want to give something back – volunteering can have a positive affect on young people during and beyond the voyage. Our volunteers pass their life experiences onto others
  • They gain confidence and can improve their teamwork and communication skills – sail training benefits young people in this way but can also benefit our volunteers in this way too
  • They meet new people – volunteers get to meet other volunteers and make new friends themselves, they become part of the Challenge Wales community
  • They have lots of fun doing something that is different and sometimes challenging – Volunteers get to sail to new places, take part in races, be a budding Captain Jack Sparrow through day sailing, residential voyages and non-stop trips that involve night-sailing
  • They learn new skills or improve their current skills – from maintenance to fundraising, from sailing to working and talking with new people
Challenge Wales volunteers help with maintenance

Challenge Wales volunteers help with maintenance

This summer Challenge Wales has been taking part in the Tall Ships Races – the largest youth event on the water, and a spectacular one at that, sailing from the South Coast of the UK to Antwerp (Belgium) to Lisbon (Portugal) to Cadiz (Southern Spain) to A Coruna (Northern Spain) before heading back to the South Coast for a Small Ships Race.

Tall Ships Parade of Sail (pic courtesy of Sail Training International)

Tall Ships Parade of Sail (pic courtesy of Sail Training International)

And, Challenge Wales volunteers have been part of this spectacular activity, and they give up a minimum of a few days a year to sail with us and be volunteers. Many join us on our residential voyages which are on average 5 days. So if you can donate some of your time to Challenge Wales for at least one of our crew training days, up to one day shore-side and one of our voyages, and are aged 18 – 70 then get in touch.

It’s simple to become a volunteer. Just submit your volunteer form, then book yourself onto one of our adult voyages (minimum duration 1 day) which is used as an assessment voyage, if successful we follow up on references and undertake an enhanced DBS (background check). The last step is to join us for a Volunteer Induction session and then book yourself on to a crew training day.

Aged under 18? Then our Youth Panel could be for you – check it out here.

Will you be jumping onboard for your own personal volunteering adventure?


Challenge Wales is now starting its 2017 volunteer crew recruitment programme, so now is the perfect time to join the Challenge Wales team enabling potential volunteers to undertake their qualifying voyage and crew training prior to the 2017 sail training season starting.  For further details on volunteering contact the Challenge Wales office on 029 20 70 4657 or by email or check out the volunteering section on the website.

The next voyages which count as a qualifying voyage include:
* Sailing by the Stars voyage 25th – 27th August (Gosport  – Cardiff)
* Challenge Experience Day – 4th September (Penarth – Penarth)
* Challenge Experience Day – 17th September (Penarth – Penarth)

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