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Volume 2 Issue 4 - Wisdom & Insight

The VolunTourist™ is a premium Newsletter for the Travel Trade. For those interested in dis-covering what is happening in the world of VolunTourism and seeking emerging practices, general information, and case studies, this is your Source.

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VOLUME 2 ISSUE 4 - Home

FEATURES:
FEATURE ARTICLE 1
FEATURE ARTICLE 2

COLUMNS:
So You May Know
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Wisdom & Insight
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Wisdom & Insight

VolunTourism Development: Introducing "The VolunTourism Chronicles"

How is VolunTourism actively being developed throughout the world? We want to share with you some of the stories of those who are generating and implementing VolunTourism programs and intiatives in "real-time." Why have they elected to do what they do? What challenges do they face? What triumphs have they experienced? You will have a front-row seat in watching their VolunTourism realities unfold.

I had the pleasure of connecting with Shawn Stratton in November 2006 via email correspondence and a subsequent phone call. He wanted to relate his experience of the Adventure Travel Trade Association World Summit and discuss how he might incorporate VolunTourism into his fledgling business - Live More Adventures.

It is difficult, as most of you know, to get any type of traction when starting a business. Compound this with embracing a VolunTourism strategy and you are really testing your entrepreneurial savvy. But when passion is coupled with perseverence, even the greatest obstacles will ultimately crumble before your feet.

Shawn Stratton has these attributes. Following our discussion, I pondered, "What could deliver a mutually beneficial opportunity for our readers and Shawn? What are the hurdles that we face in shifting paradigms within our own lives and, more specifically, in relation to VolunTourism?"

This is when I settled on the idea of creating a space for individuals like Shawn to share wisdom and insight garnered through the experience of developing VolunTourism from conception in relation to their respective operations. This is not intended to be another reality tv show, but rather, a voyage offered through the viewpoint of one who is living their convictions and actively pursuing the implementation thereof.

The "Stratton Chronicles" will present Shawn's version of "The VolunTourism Chronicles." It will focus on his VolunTourism experience in the most raw form possible. Little editing, outside of grammatical blemishes, will be utilized in an effort to preserve Shawn's original content. As we include additional entries from other individuals around the globe, her/his last name will appear as that issues version of "The VolunTourism Chronicles."

We look forward to your thoughts and comments on how this supports your understanding of VolunTourism and how it may be incorporated into your future activities. For now, let's move to our first entry from Shawn and discover what motivating factors have inflamed his passion for VolunTourism.

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The Stratton Chronicles -Entry I

For years, I knew I would start a business that would incorporate my passions, experiences and skills to educate people about themselves while taking them to a world outside of their comfort zone. I founded my company, LiveMore Adventures, in the fall of 2005 with the dream of creating an exceptional adventure-based, experiential education company that would enrich the lives of its participants through small group wilderness and cultural exploration in stunning and diverse locations around the world.

Many people have similar grand ambitions but only a few ever take the big step of actually starting the business; even fewer survive the first three years. Over the next year, I will be contributing articles to The VolunTourist as I chronicle what it takes to start a company from scratch in this challenging yet rewarding industry.

I have worked in the Outdoor Education and Guiding industry for the past 11 years (7 years with the National Outdoor Leadership School) and traveled independently throughout many developing countries around the world. Prior to founding LiveMore Adventures, I had been working full time “in the field” and had just spent 8 years without living in one place for more than three months. With my learning curve leveling off and with my desire for a little more stability, I knew the time was right for a new challenge and the next chapter of my life to begin.

Connecting with local people and learning about unique cultures is at the heart of any international travel experience that has "blown me away" and left a lasting memory. I love the mountains, oceans, and wildlife but it is connecting with people that have really struck a nerve in me and I am sure many of you as well.

My experiences have included:

  • staying in a one-room home of a Nepali Sherpa with his family after a successful climb;
  • taking a hike with Maasai elders and learning how they have lived off the land for years; and
  • living with a family in Guatemala and learning about their home life and its similarities and differences to mine in Canada

VolunTourism adventures give participants the unique opportunity to give back and connect with locals on a level most international travelers on a typical "guided tour" would never receive. Over the next few months, I will be working on developing new and exciting itineraries with an extensive VolunTourism component.

Over the past year I have developed several custom VolunTourism itineraries in Newfoundland and Kenya for school groups but I do not currently offer an open enrollment VolunTourism focused trip. In mid-January, I will be traveling to Ecuador for three weeks on a scouting trip with the hope of developing several outstanding VolunTourism adventures.

In the next entry, I will fill you in on my Ecuador preparation and how the whole trip came together.

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