In 2013 I participated in the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in Utrecht, The Netherlands; in which national and international volunteers helped with the organization and creation of the event. Let me share with you my experience as well as the application process, and how to participate in other volunteer projects around the world.
1. The Project
a. The event and the participants
The EYOF is a biennial multi-sport event for youth athletes which was held for the first time in Brussels in 1991 and since then has been held in different cities around Europe. It has a summer and a winter editions held mainly in July and February respectively. The sports played at each edition are the following:
- Summer: Athletics, Basketball, Cycling, Canoe sprint, Handball, Judo, Swimming, Tennis, and Volleyball.
- Winter: Curling, Figure skating, Ice hockey, Short Track, Ski jumping, Snowboarding, Nordic Combined
Young athletes from 50 European countries meet here to become known on the international stage in the future, being the EYOF a gateway to the Olympic Games.
If you want to learn more about the event, log in to the official website: www.eyof.org
b. Volunteer activities
There are several activities in which the volunteers can participate:
- Events & Ceremonies
- Event Services
- Food & Beverage Services
- General Management
- Language Services
- Media & Communication
- Medical Services
- NOC Assistant
- VIP Services & Protocol
- Observer Programme
- Transport & Logistics
- Venue Management
In my experience I was part of VIP Services & Protocol; here you will support the staff located at the VIP hotel (Welcome and Information Desk), help to allocate seats at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, be responsible for coordination activities at victory ceremonies and help brief medal presenters.
c. Free Time
On the evenings after the events had finished, we were able to choose to do whatever we wanted. In my experience Utrecht was full of restaurants, bars, stores and fun things to do!
d. What will you gain?
- Make friends from all over the world
- Watch your favorite sports played by high-level athletes
- Live the energy and atmosphere of an Olympic Games experience
- Get high quality apparel for you to wear when working and to keep
- Practice and improve your english skills
- A letter of reference
2. Additional information
The EYOF offers a possibility of school accommodation for free (sleeping on the floor, so you should bring your own sleeping bag and sleeping pad).
You also have the possibility to stay in cottages with prices starting from 20€/person/night.
Or you can also find your own accommodation. I have three suggestions:
- Hostel World: through this webpage, you can find a lot of hostels, hotels, apartments, campsites, and bed & breakfasts almost in every part of the world. Here you will be able to see the facilities offered in each place and to sort the results by price. Moreover, you can see the reviews from other people facilitating your decision.
- Couchsurfing: This webpage provides a platform for members to “surf” on couches by staying as a guest at a host’s home, and you can also just hang out with members. The membership is free and your profile includes information as your interests, skills, favorite music, movies, and books, and photos. You can either search for hosts using several parameters like age, location, and gender and then send them messages or you can also post your travel plans publicly and receive homestay offers from potential hosts. Regarding safety, make sure that your host has a lot of references and that all of them are positive; ask her or him for their other social media profiles and make sure the neighborhood where she or he is located is safe.
- A friend of a friend: this was the method that I used. I was extremely lucky because my roomie in Vienna was from The Netherlands and she had a friend who was living in Utrecht so she asked her if I could stay there for a week and everything turned out perfectly. Besides being able to attend the festival I had a lot of fun with my new roomies.
The festival provided the volunteers with food in the different locations of the sports events.
Volunteers had free usage of regional public transport.
3. Application Process
First of all, you have to consider that the EYOF is a biennial event, so you can apply for 2021, 2023, 2025, and so on. Also, have in mind that it has summer and winter editions held mainly in July and February respectively.
a. Start your application
To start the process for 2021 enter https://eyof2021.fi/volunteers/, there you will be able to find the application process and contact details. If you want to apply in future years consider that each year there will be a new webpage for the volunteer applications so I recommend you to google “volunteer EYOF and the year”.
b. Participation fee
4. How to participate in other paid & unpaid volunteer camps
There are volunteer work camps in many countries all around the world. Some ask for a participation fee but others are paid, which means that you’ll only have to pay for your airplane ticket to get there and you’ll be provided with free accommodation and food.
You can read the post How to find paid volunteer projects abroad to know in which websites you will find databases containing all these volunteer projects and also you can read the posts How to participate in a volunteer project in the United States in which I explain my experience in a paid project and How to participate in the volunteer project “The Himalayan Beauty” in India which was a project that had a participation fee. On the other hand, if you are looking for opportunities to study abroad, I recommend you to read the post How to find scholarships to study abroad.
In the Volunteer Abroad section, you can find more experiences of volunteer projects abroad! If you had a similar experience and want to inspire others to apply please send an email to email@example.com
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