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Volunteering as a Hospitalera

LenaOnTheRoad

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2013, Camino Portugues 2013, Via de la Plata 2016
Hi everyone,

as all the other threads on this topic are quite old, I thought I would start a new one with several questions on volunteering:

1) In General, how many hours is a hospitalero/volunteer expected to "work"? Half a day? Full day? Would one be able to work 3-4 hours per day in their real job (online)? Or would say that is difficult to manage, as there are always people arriving and you would miss half of the experience if you would "disappear" for 4 hours?

2) What is the deal about accomodation and food? Is it free for the volunteer?

3) To those who did this already: Was it a geat experience or was it a bit boring as the people change every day? is there an albergue that you would recommend as it a was super nice place?

4) Is there a platform/group for albergues looking for volunteers?

5) What are the tasks of a volunteers? I assume cleaning, shopping, cooking and the reception? Or are there more tasks?

Each advice is much appreciated!

Lena
 
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Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
A "Tourigrino" trip once Covid has passed, so 2023
Hi everyone,

as all the other threads on this topic are quite old, I thought I would start a new one with several questions on volunteering:

1) In General, how many hours is a hospitalero/volunteer expected to "work"? Half a day? Full day? Would one be able to work 3-4 hours per day in their real job (online)? Or would say that is difficult to manage, as there are always people arriving and you would miss half of the experience if you would "disappear" for 4 hours?

2) What is the deal about accomodation and food? Is it free for the volunteer?

3) To those who did this already: Was it a geat experience or was it a bit boring as the people change every day? is there an albergue that you would recommend as it a was super nice place?

4) Is there a platform/group for albergues looking for volunteers?

5) What are the tasks of a volunteers? I assume cleaning, shopping, cooking and the reception? Or are there more tasks?

Each advice is much appreciated!

Lena
Going by my own experience at Rabanal (where there were four of us on duty):

1. We worked generally from about 06:00 until 12:00 first serving breakfast then clearing away the breakfast things, cleaning rooms, washing bedding, unblocking toilets etc. then broke for lunch. Pilgrims would start arriving around 10:30 but were not allowed in (it was July and hot so they'd set off early). Somebody has to do all the paperwork, accounting and correspondence with the CJS, writing to people who had sponsored the refugio that week.
From 13:30 until 22:00 you'd be ministering to pilgrims' needs - booking them in, showing them to their beds etc. At 22:00 we'd prepare the kitchen for the next day's breakfast and lock the kitchen door ready to start over the next day.
I suppose you could fit your "real job" in between 22:00 and 06:00 at night but you can't really expect colleagues to shoulder your chores while there's work to be done.
We took one day off each week usually catching the bus into Astorga and combined that with bringing in supplies not available in the one shop that was there in those days or the travelling household goods van or the baker's van. I was there for two and a half weeks, I only took the one day off.

2. At Rabanal we shared two to a room in the hospitalero wing on the first floor. The CSJ paid for one meal a day taken at either the Posada or Tonio's. You paid your own breakfasts and lunches as well as fares there and back.

3. It was a blast! A bit "Groundhog Day" in that you do the same thing over and over again every day; and it was different from walking the Camino in that you usually only saw pilgrims once (unless you had somebody in the sickbay) rather than building up a day by day relationship with them.

4. Various national groups like the American Association of Pilgrims fill slots. Rabanal is run by the Confederation of Saint James in London.

5. You are there to work, it is not a holiday. Yes, you prepare meals, scrub floors, help with blistered feet, listen to pilgrim experiences, offer condolences and encouragement - there is always something to be done.
 

LenaOnTheRoad

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2013, Camino Portugues 2013, Via de la Plata 2016
Going by my own experience at Rabanal (where there were four of us on duty):

1. We worked generally from about 06:00 until 12:00 first serving breakfast then clearing away the breakfast things, cleaning rooms, washing bedding, unblocking toilets etc. then broke for lunch. Pilgrims would start arriving around 10:30 but were not allowed in (it was July and hot so they'd set off early). Somebody has to do all the paperwork, accounting and correspondence with the CJS, writing to people who had sponsored the refugio that week.
From 13:30 until 22:00 you'd be ministering to pilgrims' needs - booking them in, showing them to their beds etc. At 22:00 we'd prepare the kitchen for the next day's breakfast and lock the kitchen door ready to start over the next day.
I suppose you could fit your "real job" in between 22:00 and 06:00 at night but you can't really expect colleagues to shoulder your chores while there's work to be done.
We took one day off each week usually catching the bus into Astorga and combined that with bringing in supplies not available in the one shop that was there in those days or the travelling household goods van or the baker's van. I was there for two and a half weeks, I only took the one day off.

2. At Rabanal we shared two to a room in the hospitalero wing on the first floor. The CSJ paid for one meal a day taken at either the Posada or Tonio's. You paid your own breakfasts and lunches as well as fares there and back.

3. It was a blast! A bit "Groundhog Day" in that you do the same thing over and over again every day; and it was different from walking the Camino in that you usually only saw pilgrims once (unless you had somebody in the sickbay) rather than building up a day by day relationship with them.

4. Various national groups like the American Association of Pilgrims fill slots. Rabanal is run by the Confederation of Saint James in London.

5. You are there to work, it is not a holiday. Yes, you prepare meals, scrub floors, help with blistered feet, listen to pilgrim experiences, offer condolences and encouragement - there is always something to be done.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. That sounds rough. I hoped it was more like with other volunteer oportunities (Work Away or Woofing), where you work 20-25 hours per week and can enjoy the rest your time..I guess, that's not for me then..
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
In 2002, I volunteered at San Nicolas Del Flüe Albergue.

I worked with one other volunteer.

6am-8am we watched pilgrims leave.

8am-10am we cleaned albergue.

10am-12 we rested, ran personal errands.

12 we ate our gratis meal at local restaurant within walking minutes or so from refugio.

Between 1-2 we opened for business. That time was fluid.

Around 10pm secured albergue.

10pm-11pm light cleaning and troubleshooting.

11pm-6am sleep. Obviously all times are fluid but that’s the gist. I had a great time. It’s nice too see the other side if camino experience.

In 2004, I volunteered in Rabanal Del Camino. Jeff Crawley’s outline is spot on.

Volunteer stints are 15 days.

I recommend giving it a try.
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. That sounds rough. I hoped it was more like with other volunteer oportunities (Work Away or Woofing), where you work 20-25 hours per week and can enjoy the rest your time..I guess, that's not for me then..

It’s sounds taxing but truly is a fun, fun time.
 
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dbier

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Last 114km Camino Frances, Jul 21
2023 - Camino P
I don't know if all confraternities share this....but as an member in the Estados Unidos (United States), we were not encouraged to take the *training* to become an hospitalero/a unless we had walked a Camino (last 114 km counts) AND had spent at least 3 nights total in non-private albergues.

It may be a long while before I qualify to train, since I'm not planning my next Camino until Sep 2023.

Now, there is an additional request for volunteers at Ribadiso, with fewer duties. But it was still a minimum 2 week stint.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
Hi everyone,

as all the other threads on this topic are quite old, I thought I would start a new one with several questions on volunteering:

1) In General, how many hours is a hospitalero/volunteer expected to "work"? Half a day? Full day? Would one be able to work 3-4 hours per day in their real job (online)? Or would say that is difficult to manage, as there are always people arriving and you would miss half of the experience if you would "disappear" for 4 hours?

2) What is the deal about accomodation and food? Is it free for the volunteer?

3) To those who did this already: Was it a geat experience or was it a bit boring as the people change every day? is there an albergue that you would recommend as it a was super nice place?

4) Is there a platform/group for albergues looking for volunteers?

5) What are the tasks of a volunteers? I assume cleaning, shopping, cooking and the reception? Or are there more tasks?

Each advice is much appreciated!

Lena
You have great replies above. I would remove the inverted commas from "work". It is very real! Thanks for the new learning in your own response to the replies - I had not known that woofing was what duckduckgo told me it is. I thought it had something to do with distorted music, the kind people like to share through car windows. 😁
In my own experience, but no two people are the same, I could not focus on other work for 4 hours while on hospitalera service.
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Having worked with one other person at a small, FICS-administered albergue on the Camino Aragon, I would definitely say that your focus really should be on the needs of the pilgrims rather than the distraction of 3-4 hours of outside work. There are so many tasks before, during, and after the stay of the pilgrims that a guaranteed time every day would be difficult to arrange.

For others thinking about this volunteer opportunity, assignments vary by site, but expect to be busy from 6am-10/11, then 2 until 10pm, at which time you get to sleep but are still managing the albergue. So 3 or so free hours a day, 15 days straight. We paid for our own transportation and groceries/meals during our entire assignment.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
A "Tourigrino" trip once Covid has passed, so 2023
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. That sounds rough. I hoped it was more like with other volunteer oportunities (Work Away or Woofing), where you work 20-25 hours per week and can enjoy the rest your time..I guess, that's not for me then..
Not rough but immensely satisfying and rewarding.
For one thing you become a "local" not an itinerant during your stay.
It was also payback for my first Camino in 2001 and I certainly don't regret doing it
 

Flog

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
Only thing I would add to above replies:

Unlike most types of volunteering, for those two weeks it's a real job requiring 24/7 commitment.
Although you can make some free time for yourself (in my case I got out walking every morning for a couple of hours after chores but combined it with grocery shopping), taking care of the pilgrim's needs has to take priority and you don't really get to switch off. I don't think scheduling in 3 or 4 hours a day to do something completely unrelated would be workable.
 
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biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
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I volunteered for two weeks at San Anton. Oliver Kliot and I shared all of the duties of cooking and cleaning. The twelve beds were filled almost every night. On an average day we were was up before dawn to host breakfast, later sweeping and mopping the dormitory and shower room and in the afternoon beginning preparations for dinner. Most days I would spend my spare time walking along the Camino picking up trash and tidying up the courtyard. Oliver would ride our bike to Castojeriz to buy provision, every few days Ovidio would deliver vegetable, rice, pasta and canned goods. We had fresh bread delivered every morning from a local bakery along with an empanada we splurged on once in a while.

We had no electricity or refrigeration there. It was a very rewarding experience.

APOC (American Pilgrims on the Camino) offers several training for hospitaleros every year. The next training is in September in Colorado Springs for 3 days. It is a prerequisite for working in many of the public albergues.
 

IngridF

Intrepid Peregrina
Time of past OR future Camino
2012, 2015 ,2017, 2019
I have been a hospitalera 4 times, each was unique and very fullfilling in it's own way. 2015 Zamora and Miraz, 2017 Grado and 2019 Sahagun. None of my 2 weeks of volunteering would have given me the privilege to take 4 hours out to work on my own business.
As to training, The CCoP Canadian Company of Pilgrims (I am Canadian) requires having walked a Camino before attending our 2.5 days training.
Language: A good understanding of Spanish is of course very helpful, I am NOT fluent but have been lucky to always be paired with a co-hospi that was. My strength is being multilingual in other languages beneficial to tend to international pilgrims.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
I would like to do this and give a little back but I don't think my command of Spanish is good enough. Can someone comment on how much fluency in Spanish is required. Thanks.
I've volunteered 6 times through HOSVOL and although I speak fluent Spanish, I was always placed with a Spanish volunteer. That said, they usually did not speak any other language! They were very happy to let me sign in the pilgrims as I speak 4 languages.

It is very rewarding but definitely more than a full-time job!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances/Portuguese/Ingles/Sanabre/Frances/Fineste
Hi everyone,

as all the other threads on this topic are quite old, I thought I would start a new one with several questions on volunteering:

1) In General, how many hours is a hospitalero/volunteer expected to "work"? Half a day? Full day? Would one be able to work 3-4 hours per day in their real job (online)? Or would say that is difficult to manage, as there are always people arriving and you would miss half of the experience if you would "disappear" for 4 hours?

2) What is the deal about accomodation and food? Is it free for the volunteer?

3) To those who did this already: Was it a geat experience or was it a bit boring as the people change every day? is there an albergue that you would recommend as it a was super nice place?

4) Is there a platform/group for albergues looking for volunteers?

5) What are the tasks of a volunteers? I assume cleaning, shopping, cooking and the reception? Or are there more tasks?

Each advice is much appreciated!

Lena
Lena, 1) it will depend on where your being a Hospitalero and what time zone you work in. The schedule at the albergue will be set. Disappearing for four hours should be on your own time, before or after that. 2) Every albergue will be different, from my experience there will be limited or wonderful kitchens. I haven't experienced free food. Sometime a budget is provided. 3)Never boring because there are always things to fix, clean or cook.(recommendations withheld) 4) this forum will know where help is needed. Training is required. 5) The tasks can be endless and joyous. We've volunteered at Salamance, Estella, Ribadiso and Pilgrim House in Santiago, We are returning to Ribadiso in September.
 
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longwalker60

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
09/2018
I have just completed the Hospitalero training and would love to hear advice and tips from other Hospitaleros. I am not sure, when I will take the plunge, maybe this Fall (mid October November, or next year) From reading above, its sounds very busy. Can anybody recommend an Alburgue that they really enjoyed, and why? Given the constraints on time has anybody worked in Santiago, or SJPP, Pampalona, Leon, Burgos, and did you have the time to sight see and be a tourist. Finally, I like to thank those who have been hospitaleros you are a shining light on the camino and make a big difference to all pilgrims. Buen Camino!
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
IGiven the constraints on time has anybody worked in Santiago, or SJPP, Pampalona, Leon, Burgos, and did you have the time to sight see and be a tourist.
I don't know where you did your training but those of us living in Europe could not pick and choose although a 1, 2 and 3 preference was asked. Usually you are placed where someone is needed.

Sight-seeing? No way. You are busy all day unless you work in the Oficina de Peregrinos in Santiago.
Finally, I like to thank those who have been hospitaleros you are a shining light on the camino and make a big difference to all pilgrims. Buen Camino!
Gracias!
 

Gerard Griffin

Active Member
I admire beyond measure the work of the people who've replied above, and I've stayed in some of the places they mention, all of which have a special quality that can't be easily defined but can never be forgotten. Thanks to the volunteer hospitaleras/os who not only do the work but also create that special atmosphere.

That being said, there are many privados which are able to be far more flexible that the municipals and parrochials etc. They'll take you without training and will gladly give you the time you need to do your own stuff, by prior arrangement. So keep your hospitalera dream alive 😎
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
If you volunteer in the winter months things may be quieter, but fewer albergues open to need help. There are some albergues who do use work away or similar sites.

The Albergue at Artieda on the Aragones does and we met at least one volunteer who was working through one of the websites.

It is a serious commitment to be in charge of an albergue for 2 weeks. I recommend the training that is approved by HosVol in several countries.
 
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J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
I have just completed the Hospitalero training and would love to hear advice and tips from other Hospitaleros. I am not sure, when I will take the plunge, maybe this Fall (mid October November, or next year) From reading above, its sounds very busy. Can anybody recommend an Alburgue that they really enjoyed, and why? Given the constraints on time has anybody worked in Santiago, or SJPP, Pampalona, Leon, Burgos, and did you have the time to sight see and be a tourist. Finally, I like to thank those who have been hospitaleros you are a shining light on the camino and make a big difference to all pilgrims. Buen Camino!
If you have taken the training, just tell Anai when you are available a few she will place you in a place appropriate for a new hospitalero. You must work either the first or last half of the month.
 

Gerard Griffin

Active Member
If a person arrives at an albergue, likes it, tells the owner they'd like to stay around and help out for two weeks ... Or contacts an albergue through a workaway site, messages for info and is invited ... Why should anyone object? These albergues are different from the others, the commercial privados, the more structured and organised municipals, the beautiful but austere parrochials. Many people enjoy that difference. The families who run these places need informal arrangements with volunteer hospitaleros to survive. Why not?
 

Eddiebee

Eddiebee
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances SJPDP to SDC May & June 2017
I just finished working in Ponferrada the first half of June. We did not provide meals so there was no cooking. Pilgrims left every morning between 6 and 8. From 8 until 10 we cleaned the bathrooms, kitchen, and courtyard and mopped the floors. We were free until around 1PM when we opened. This is when I explored and got a long morning walk. Pilgrims were signed in and shown their bed until 10:30PM. There was a lot of sitting and waiting after the initial crowd that came in from 1 to 3. There were 4 of us so we usually split the slow time into 2 hour shifts of 2 people. The church provided us with food which we prepared in a private kitchen. It was a fulfilling experience. It is much different from walking a Camino, but I felt that I had received so much from the Camino when I walked that I had a debt to repay. I am so glad that I did.
 

Terenia

New Member
Hi everyone,

as all the other threads on this topic are quite old, I thought I would start a new one with several questions on volunteering:

1) In General, how many hours is a hospitalero/volunteer expected to "work"? Half a day? Full day? Would one be able to work 3-4 hours per day in their real job (online)? Or would say that is difficult to manage, as there are always people arriving and you would miss half of the experience if you would "disappear" for 4 hours?

2) What is the deal about accomodation and food? Is it free for the volunteer?

3) To those who did this already: Was it a geat experience or was it a bit boring as the people change every day? is there an albergue that you would recommend as it a was super nice place?

4) Is there a platform/group for albergues looking for volunteers?

5) What are the tasks of a volunteers? I assume cleaning, shopping, cooking and the reception? Or are there more tasks?

Each advice is much appreciated!

Lena
Hi Lena, if you become a hospitalera, you commit to a two-week session. You work with another hospitalera(o). The sessions start at the first and 16th day of a month. You work all day because you are are responsible for running an albergue. Italy is the country that allows one-week volunteering session.
You receive free accommodation and if the albergue provides food, you cook the food for the pilgrims and you may eat with them.
Before you become a hospitalera, there are some conditions to be met:

1. you know the camino because you walked it
2. you need to speak minimum two languages\
3. you need to go through a special training for hospitaleros

Each country has its own association of friends of camino and my information is based on the Canadian source but I know there is one in the USA so you may want to contact them for more information.

Good luck.

Teresa
 
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Alan Pearce

Veteran Member
I have been a hospitalero 5 times, but never with 4 of us there at one time. Twice I have been one of two, once at Miraz and another time at Rabanal. Other than that Jeff Crawly has given a very good insight into what the duties of a hospitalero are. The only thing I would add to what he has written would be to say that at the end of the two week roster, I was physically spent, and in need of a holiday!

I loved each experience, and would not have missed it for anyting.
 

MaryLynn

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
I would like to do this and give a little back but I don't think my command of Spanish is good enough. Can someone comment on how much fluency in Spanish is required. Thanks.
I cannot speak Spanish, so when I was a hospitalera and a guest only spoke Spanish, there was always someone - a guest or the other hospitalero/a - who could translate or explain when necessary. Often, by the time the pilgrims reach your albergue, they are familiar with the routines and don't need much translation. Sometimes the information for the guests was written in several languages. Many pilgrims, especially young ones, can speak English. It wasn't the problem that I thought it might be.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
We speak some Spanish and I speak German in addition to English. We also use translation apps. Phil had a deeply meaningful conversation with a pilgrim who spoke only Russian a few years ago that lasted more than an hour using Google Translate.

This year will be my fourth and Phil's fifth albergue service. It is a labor of love. We usually get to know our community especially in smaller villages. In the winter, we have had some time for museums and limited sightseeing. Some summers it has been a busy exhausting experience when you wake up at 5:30 and fall into your bunk at 10:30 or 11 after all the pilgrims are in for the night.

Because we don't come with a car, part of the planning is figuring out how you will do the shopping, especially in more remote villages. It can take some creative planning!

We will be posting our regular hospitalero thread "live from the Camino" starting in a few days if you want to follow us along on this year's service the second half of July. We start at Canfranc July 16.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
A "Tourigrino" trip once Covid has passed, so 2023
As an add-on to the original posting, what is this training of which many of you speak?

On my first visit to Rabanal I met Dr Pinkerton who then ran the hospitalero side of the CSJ. She told me to get in touch with her once I'd completed my Camino.

Back in London I was invited to lunch at Christ Church where potential hospitaleros were told about the set up:
Where to eat
The important members of the community
The day to day events
We picked the time we wanted to go
and that was it.

The following year we were invited back to air our comments on the experience.

I'm now intrigued as to what constitutes "training".
 

SabineP

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
As an add-on to the original posting, what is this training of which many of you speak?

On my first visit to Rabanal I met Dr Pinkerton who then ran the hospitalero side of the CSJ. She told me to get in touch with her once I'd completed my Camino.

Back in London I was invited to lunch at Christ Church where potential hospitaleros were told about the set up:
Where to eat
The important members of the community
The day to day events
We picked the time we wanted to go
and that was it.

The following year we were invited back to air our comments on the experience.

I'm now intrigued as to what constitutes "training".


Hi Jeff,

See these links.


For HOSVOL :

Flemish volunteers can do their training at the Flemish Confraternity of St James and will be sent to Los Arcos Albergue Isaac Santiago.

 
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Time of past OR future Camino
06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
As an add-on to the original posting, what is this training of which many of you speak?

On my first visit to Rabanal I met Dr Pinkerton who then ran the hospitalero side of the CSJ. She told me to get in touch with her once I'd completed my Camino.

Back in London I was invited to lunch at Christ Church where potential hospitaleros were told about the set up:
Where to eat
The important members of the community
The day to day events
We picked the time we wanted to go
and that was it.

The following year we were invited back to air our comments on the experience.

I'm now intrigued as to what constitutes "training".
Jeff, let me try to share my understanding. The training: normally Hosvol has a training for new volunteers, not for the two csj albergues, though, as they are staffed independently. It is normal to attend a training session either in Spain or in an associated country that offers an approved training. From your own experience you can imagine the content: in its essence it is about attitude, and the attitude is - how to be of service to the pilgrims who come along. Not any different to the csj albergues, I would imagine. (I know little about the csj albergues beyond the afternoon tea offerings! )
The following copied link should lead to the website of hosvol, and there you can learn more than I might pass on to you...

https://www.caminosantiago.org/cpperegrino/hospitaleros/hospitaleros.asp
After my own Camino Frances, I paid attention to what a French couple who had walked with us did in the following year, and that led me to look for how to be a hospitalera myself, as a small gesture to give back for what I had received from those who had looked after us all along the Camino.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
The training HosVol provided in the US is based on the Spanish approved version. In fact, Spanish hospitaleros came to the US to do training for the first few years until trainers could be established. Canada and other countries have their own Spanish approved training.

It includes practice sessions on cooking with pilgrims in groups (you cook a communal meal together), shopping, practice on special situations which might come up (people traveling with horses or donkeys, people wanting to bring in dogs, drunk and disruptive pilgrims, etc), cleaning, bed bug issues, first aid, singing and music, and learning how to be hospitable with pilgrims (offering cool water or a hot drink at check in weather dependant as an example).

You also practice listening. You are the rock in the river around which pilgrims flow. Your job is to listen-- not tell your own stories. Your job is to look out for the sick, help the injured, give information about the future stage (fountains, stores/bars open, things to see or landmarks), and how to help pilgrims who ask to light their packs. It is pilgrimage in place.
 
The training HosVol provided in the US is based on the Spanish approved version. In fact, Spanish hospitaleros came to the US to do training for the first few years until trainers could be established. Canada and other countries have their own Spanish approved training.

It includes practice sessions on cooking with pilgrims in groups (you cook a communal meal together), shopping, practice on special situations which might come up (people traveling with horses or donkeys, people wanting to bring in dogs, drunk and disruptive pilgrims, etc), cleaning, bed bug issues, first aid, singing and music, and learning how to be hospitable with pilgrims (offering cool water or a hot drink at check in weather dependant as an example).

You also practice listening. You are the rock in the river around which pilgrims flow. Your job is to listen-- not tell your own stories. Your job is to look out for the sick, help the injured, give information about the future stage (fountains, stores/bars open, things to see or landmarks), and how to help pilgrims who ask to light their packs. It is pilgrimage in place.
Thank you for your excellent account of the training course you undertook to become a hospitalera.One of the points you listed was listening to the pilgrims and not telling your own stories.I remember this point was emphasised at a training course I did in Le Puy en Velay in 2012 to be a hospitalière , volunteer in donativo gîtes in France.It was a privilege to volunteer there and in Guacelmo Rabanal del Camino and Miraz.
 

Eamonrodden

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
French, Norte, Primitivo, portuguese, via del plata, madrid
As an add-on to the original posting, what is this training of which many of you speak?

On my first visit to Rabanal I met Dr Pinkerton who then ran the hospitalero side of the CSJ. She told me to get in touch with her once I'd completed my Camino.

Back in London I was invited to lunch at Christ Church where potential hospitaleros were told about the set up:
Where to eat
The important members of the community
The day to day events
We picked the time we wanted to go
and that was it.

The following year we were invited back to air our comments on the experience.

I'm now intrigued as to what constitutes "training".
In Australia, the Australian friends of the Camino, run courses on volunteering( a couple of days). It is mostly commonsense, but it does give accreditation that the organisations in Spain recognise.
 
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I did that training in Melbourne Australia in February 2020 and was going to organize a trip in April or May the same year. Well, we all know what happened then! I hope to try again in April or May next year.
The training was great and one of the resources we were given was a number of frequently used phrases written in different languages. I also was taken by the discussion about listening to pilgrims, not telling your own stories.
 

Canche

Volcano Climber
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte/Frances 2016, San Salvador & Primitivo 2021
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. That sounds rough. I hoped it was more like with other volunteer oportunities (Work Away or Woofing), where you work 20-25 hours per week and can enjoy the rest your time..I guess, that's not for me then..
Yes, it does sound rough. I would never do it. I don't do any of that at home so can't imagine doing it elsewhere.
 

LenaOnTheRoad

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2013, Camino Portugues 2013, Via de la Plata 2016
Yes, it does sound rough. I would never do it. I don't do any of that at home so can't imagine doing it elsewhere.
Well, I would do it and love it if if wasn't the whole day.
 

LenaOnTheRoad

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2013, Camino Portugues 2013, Via de la Plata 2016
Thank you all for your comments and feedback about your experience! This has helped me a lot in my decision. I already have done 3 caminos myself and have met a lot of volunteers. Thank you for your great work!

I traveled the world by being a volunteer (Workaway and Woofing) and that were the best 3 years of my life. Much better than normal, tourusic traveling. But it was always fair, that means half of day of work in exchange for food and a private accomodation. I learned how to sail, how permaculture works, vegetarin cooking, lived with different families and cultures, on boats, in schools, on farms, In Asia, Australia, Central and South Amercia. And I always worked for 20-25 hours per week. Which is a fair exchange, I think.

Working all day long in exchange for a bunk bed doesn't seem so fair to me.
 

Gerard Griffin

Active Member
Don't give up so easily ... There are hostels which are more relaxed and flexible than those so far described, where an austere and disciplined approach is applied to volunteer hospitaleros and pilgrims alike.

I'm certain you can find the conditions you seek in these hostels, and it's a pity in my view that the more formal hostels whose regimens have been described are unwilling to moderate their strict rules-based approach.
 
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LenaOnTheRoad

New Member
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Camino Frances 2013, Camino Portugues 2013, Via de la Plata 2016
Don't give up so easily ... There are hostels which are more relaxed and flexible than those so far described, where an austere and disciplined approach is applied to volunteer hospitaleros and pilgrims alike.

I'm certain you can find the conditions you seek in these hostels, and it's a pity in my view that the more formal hostels whose regimens have been described are unwilling to moderate their strict rules-based approach.
Probably there are. But the question is: How find them? All the websites and groups I found so far, are about these public or christian or donativo albergues, where the volunteer is asked to work all day.
 

Gerard Griffin

Active Member
I've stayed in a few and really enjoyed being there. I can't put their details online without their permission, of course. Also, as you've no doubt noticed, there's a certain level of disapproval evident towards such hostels on the part of the more formal hostels, and the pilgrims who like them. Send me a PM and I'll give you the details.
 

Canche

Volcano Climber
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte/Frances 2016, San Salvador & Primitivo 2021
Thank you all for your comments and feedback about your experience! This has helped me a lot in my decision. I already have done 3 caminos myself and have met a lot of volunteers. Thank you for your great work!

I traveled the world by being a volunteer (Workaway and Woofing) and that were the best 3 years of my life. Much better than normal, tourusic traveling. But it was always fair, that means half of day of work in exchange for food and a private accomodation. I learned how to sail, how permaculture works, vegetarin cooking, lived with different families and cultures, on boats, in schools, on farms, In Asia, Australia, Central and South Amercia. And I always worked for 20-25 hours per week. Which is a fair exchange, I think.

Working all day long in exchange for a bunk bed doesn't seem so fair to me.
I have to agree. All day seems a bit much. Where were you in Central America? I live in Guatemala.
 

lizwalking

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
FR07,08,15,19.NOR10,11.Prim12.VDLP12.HOSP15,19.22
Thank you all for your comments and feedback about your experience! This has helped me a lot in my decision. I already have done 3 caminos myself and have met a lot of volunteers. Thank you for your great work!

I traveled the world by being a volunteer (Workaway and Woofing) and that were the best 3 years of my life. Much better than normal, tourusic traveling. But it was always fair, that means half of day of work in exchange for food and a private accomodation. I learned how to sail, how permaculture works, vegetarin cooking, lived with different families and cultures, on boats, in schools, on farms, In Asia, Australia, Central and South Amercia. And I always worked for 20-25 hours per week. Which is a fair exchange, I think.

Working all day long in exchange for a bunk bed doesn't seem so fair to me.
I was a volunteer in 2013 (Najera) and 2019(Alfaro), prompted by a compulsion to give something back in return for the hospitality which I had experienced while doing my own Caminos. And a curiosity about what I now call the 'freedom of service'. In giving without measuring or counting, I received riches beyond measure in return. Cleaning a toilet can be a prayer/meditation, when one is doing it as a choice. I had rarely stayed in a private albergue on my previous Caminos, and I was often struck by the patience and kindness which met me at the end of a long day. It suggested another way of being, which could not be bought, sold or exchanged. While volunteering, my bed at night was a place to rest so that I could begin again in the morning. It was hard work physically, but I got a lot of serenity from the experience. I will be back to do it again. Last month I was on the Camino, walking from A Coruna to Santiago, and I was delighted to receive the same care and dedication from the volunteers at the municipal albergues at Carral and Bruma. Lena, it might be worth reading a post on Camino hospitality by Rebekah Scott in 2017, somewhere on this site because this kind of hospitality may become a distant memory.

 
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SabineP

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some and then more. see my signature.
I was a volunteer in 2013 (Najera) and 2019(Alfaro), prompted by a compulsion to give something back in return for the hospitality which I had experienced while doing my own Caminos. And a curiosity about what I now call the 'freedom of service'. In giving without measuring or counting, I received riches beyond measure in return. Cleaning a toilet can be a prayer/meditation, when one is doing it as a choice. I had rarely stayed in a private albergue on my previous Caminos, and I was often struck by the patience and kindness which met me at the end of a long day. It suggested another way of being, which could not be bought, sold or exchanged. While volunteering, my bed at night was a place to rest so that I could begin again in the morning. It was hard work physically, but I got a lot of serenity from the experience. I will be back to do it again. Last month I was on the Camino, walking from A Coruna to Santiago, and I was delighted to receive the same care and dedication from the volunteers at the municipal albergues at Carral and Bruma. Lena, it might be worth reading a post on Camino hospitality by Rebekah Scott in 2017, somewhere on this site because this kind of hospitality may become a distant memory.



Thank you for sharing this link again.
Still as powerful as five years ago!
 

longwalker60

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
09/2018
Thank you all for your comments and feedback about your experience! This has helped me a lot in my decision. I already have done 3 caminos myself and have met a lot of volunteers. Thank you for your great work!

I traveled the world by being a volunteer (Workaway and Woofing) and that were the best 3 years of my life. Much better than normal, tourusic traveling. But it was always fair, that means half of day of work in exchange for food and a private accomodation. I learned how to sail, how permaculture works, vegetarin cooking, lived with different families and cultures, on boats, in schools, on farms, In Asia, Australia, Central and South Amercia. And I always worked for 20-25 hours per week. Which is a fair exchange, I think.

Working all day long in exchange for a bunk bed doesn't seem so fair to me.
Can you provide additional information, websites etc. I would love to take advantage of a program like this.
 
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Eamonrodden

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
French, Norte, Primitivo, portuguese, via del plata, madrid
Thank you all for your comments and feedback about your experience! This has helped me a lot in my decision. I already have done 3 caminos myself and have met a lot of volunteers. Thank you for your great work!

I traveled the world by being a volunteer (Workaway and Woofing) and that were the best 3 years of my life. Much better than normal, tourusic traveling. But it was always fair, that means half of day of work in exchange for food and a private accomodation. I learned how to sail, how permaculture works, vegetarin cooking, lived with different families and cultures, on boats, in schools, on farms, In Asia, Australia, Central and South Amercia. And I always worked for 20-25 hours per week. Which is a fair exchange, I think.

Working all day long in exchange for a bunk bed doesn't seem so fair to me.
It is only two weeks, and it is very rewarding.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
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I admire beyond measure the work of the people who've replied above, and I've stayed in some of the places they mention, all of which have a special quality that can't be easily defined but can never be forgotten. Thanks to the volunteer hospitaleras/os who not only do the work but also create that special atmosphere.
Well said!
A big thank you to the many volunteers who donate their time and tireless hours of work because of their love of the Camino! 🙏
 
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Working all day long in exchange for a bunk bed doesn't seem so fair to me.
That's not at all what it's about. You're not getting something for free or in exchange for work, it's service.

All day seems a bit much.
Only seen from one angle.
We tend to thing work and doing things for others depletes us, not understanding the profound benefit of action for others rooted in kindness and compassion. It may be physically exhausting but the heart gets fed in the deepest possible way. We receive more than we give - service to others is much deeper source of happiness than most.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
Thank you all for your comments and feedback about your experience! This has helped me a lot in my decision. I already have done 3 caminos myself and have met a lot of volunteers. Thank you for your great work!

I traveled the world by being a volunteer (Workaway and Woofing) and that were the best 3 years of my life. Much better than normal, tourusic traveling. But it was always fair, that means half of day of work in exchange for food and a private accomodation. I learned how to sail, how permaculture works, vegetarin cooking, lived with different families and cultures, on boats, in schools, on farms, In Asia, Australia, Central and South Amercia. And I always worked for 20-25 hours per week. Which is a fair exchange, I think.

Working all day long in exchange for a bunk bed doesn't seem so fair to me.

Fair? Does not enter into the hospitalera/o tradition. In my experience. At least you know now, this is not the kind of volunteering that you are looking for.

edit: my experience is limited to donativo albergues, perhaps privately owned are different.
 
Last edited:

Gerard Griffin

Active Member
The relaxed and flexible approach to volunteering which the OP seeks can of course be found on the Camino. This is exactly the kind of hospitality many pilgrims seek, as opposed to the rigid rules-based in-by-ten, out-at-eight, one night only, no- smoking-on-the-terrace mode that prevails in many parrochials and municipals. I admire hospitaleros immensely and value their service highly. Most are saints, it's a privilege to be in their presence. But I don't find the imposition of rigid and often pointless disciplines and the finger-wagging way it's done to have anything to do with service to pilgrims. I do, however, like the relaxed and gentle approach in those chilled privados with their volunteer hospitaleros/as. From speaking to them it seems that they can choose a routine that suits them and the owners are cool with that It's clear that "real" hospitaleros are proud of the regime they face and impose, and look down on those who lack such. Why? I think the OP would fit in perfectly in such places and find just the kind of situation they want. I hate to say it, but some hospitaleros are bullies, some are just nasty. Others are bossy and self-righteous and holier than thou. Think of hospitality in the sense of inviting someone into your home. Do you greet them with a list of rules and reprimand them if they fall short? Kick them out at 8 am? Privados can clean effectively without requiring that pilgrims vacate the premises and are happy to let people stay another night. Is there a reason why municipals and parrochials cannot? Other than the belief that suffering is good for the soul, your own and other people's? Be nice to the pilgrims, for God's sake and give the rules and the toilsome sacrifices a rest.
 
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@Gerard Griffin, I must be totally oblivious because other than only one unfriendly hospitalares volunteer, I have not noticed any of the negative things you have mentioned about their service in the five various Caminos I have walked.
I accept the rules that are in place and especially during certain extremely busy seasons of the year I can totally understand that defined rules are needed...I have no problem following the established protocal.
 

SabineP

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
@Gerard Griffin : we seem to live in a parallel universe because I never experienced what you have " endured " in many of the parroquiales or municipales.
Also in private albergues you are supposed to be out at 8 in the morning.

In by ten? Perfect.Enables everyone to get a decent sleep. If not ok : plenty of private places where you can go and leave as you like.
Afterall the Camino is a pilgrimage and not an all inclusive Club Med holiday.

No smoking on the terrace? Perfect. If you feel the need then go to a terrace at a local bar and consume something. Plenty of space there.

I do feel very sorry for all those volunteers who you call " bossy ", " bullies " and " nasty ". Most of them do not read this forum and can't defend themselves.

To all volunteers and hospis in parroquiales and municipales : I loved meeting you.
Keep up the good work. You all run a tight ship which I like.
 
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Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
While I admire Gerard’s forthrightness, I think he has a very basic misunderstanding of why rules exist. They are not to make pilgrims suffer - in fact, they are to do the exact opposite: to provide for the comfort and benefit of the majority of pilgrims by not allowing a minority of them to take advantage of the situation.

Albergues have quiet/lights out times to allow pilgrims to rest, as a good night’s sleep is key to recuperation and a pilgrimage is about the journey, not late night partying. And yes, 8am may be early, but the volunteers need to clean and replenish the accommodation before reopening a few hours later while finally getting a few hours “off the clock” for personal needs. Hotels and hostels have similar hours and I’m not sure why Gerard thinks that albergues should be different. Without that time, there would be no toilet paper, coffee, fruit, etc as hospitaleros do all of that when the building is closed. In the village where I have volunteered, it’s a four hour walk or a faster but very specific one hour round trip bus journey to the nearest large supermarket - if pilgrims are not out by our closing hours, then I cannot be back to welcome new pilgrims in when we reopen six hours later.

We don’t allow smoking since pilgrims should be free from air pollution while resting, just as we wouldn’t allow music to blast or late night partying, not to mention fire safety concerns. The same goes for other rules that some seem as arbitrary (dogs, unregistered guests, locked doors at night), but exist for pilgrim comfort and safety. Pilgrims are asked to stay only only one night so that there is room for the next pilgrim who needs rest, but latitude does exist if the need arises (illness, inclement weather, etc).

Pilgrim Albergues exist for a very specific reason - to provide rest and support for those walking the Camino. If your needs are different than what they provide, then you are best served by finding accommodations better suited to what you are seeking. And while some volunteers fail to reach the ideal model of a hospitalero, none are seeking two weeks of non-paid service simply to be mean and “nasty” to travelers. If you run into those, give them the grace of forgiveness, ask if they need a helping hand, and if it’s truly a bad experience, contact the managing organization and let them know so they can address the issue.
 
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The relaxed and flexible approach to volunteering which the OP seeks can of course be found on the Camino. This is exactly the kind of hospitality many pilgrims seek, as opposed to the rigid rules-based in-by-ten, out-at-eight, one night only, no- smoking-on-the-terrace mode that prevails in many parrochials and municipals. I admire hospitaleros immensely and value their service highly. Most are saints, it's a privilege to be in their presence. But I don't find the imposition of rigid and often pointless disciplines and the finger-wagging way it's done to have anything to do with service to pilgrims. I do, however, like the relaxed and gentle approach in those chilled privados with their volunteer hospitaleros/as. From speaking to them it seems that they can choose a routine that suits them and the owners are cool with that It's clear that "real" hospitaleros are proud of the regime they face and impose, and look down on those who lack such. Why? I think the OP would fit in perfectly in such places and find just the kind of situation they want. I hate to say it, but some hospitaleros are bullies, some are just nasty. Others are bossy and self-righteous and holier than thou. Think of hospitality in the sense of inviting someone into your home. Do you greet them with a list of rules and reprimand them if they fall short? Kick them out at 8 am? Privados can clean effectively without requiring that pilgrims vacate the premises and are happy to let people stay another night. Is there a reason why municipals and parrochials cannot? Other than the belief that suffering is good for the soul, your own and other people's? Be nice to the pilgrims, for God's sake and give the rules and the toilsome sacrifices a rest.
Buen camino, Gerard.
 
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While I admire Gerard’s forthrightness, I think he has a very basic misunderstanding of why rules exist. They are not to make pilgrims suffer - in fact, they are to do the exact opposite: to provide for the comfort and benefit of the majority of pilgrims by not allowing a minority of them to take advantage of the situation.

Albergues have quiet/lights out times to allow pilgrims to rest, as a good night’s sleep is key to recuperation and a pilgrimage is about the journey, not late night partying. And yes, 8am may be early, but the volunteers need to clean and replenish the accommodation before reopening a few hours later while finally getting a few hours “off the clock” for personal needs. Hotels and hostels have similar hours and I’m not sure why Gerard thinks that albergues should be different. Without that time, there would be no toilet paper, coffee, fruit, etc as hospitaleros do all of that when the building is closed. In the village where I have volunteered, it’s a four hour walk or a faster but very specific one hour round trip bus journey to the nearest large supermarket - if pilgrims are not out by our closing hours, then I cannot be back to welcome new pilgrims in when we reopen six hours later.

We don’t allow smoking since pilgrims should be free from air pollution while resting, just as we wouldn’t allow music to blast or late night partying, not to mention fire safety concerns. The same goes for other rules that some seem as arbitrary (dogs, unregistered guests, locked doors at night), but exist for pilgrim comfort and safety. Pilgrims are asked to stay only only one night so that there is room for the next pilgrim who needs rest, but latitude does exist if the need arises (illness, inclement weather, etc).

Pilgrim Albergues exist for a very specific reason - to provide rest and support for those walking the Camino. If your needs are different than what they provide, then you are best served by finding accommodations better suited to what you are seeking. And while some volunteers fail to reach the ideal model of a hospitalero, none are seeking two weeks of non-paid service simply to be mean and “nasty” to travelers. If you run into those, give them the grace of forgiveness, ask if they need a helping hand, and if it’s truly a bad experience, contact the managing organization and let them know so they can address the issue.
Amen!...and well said!
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
We each have our own approach.One difference to volunteers with Workaway is that they are unlikely to be totally in charge and responsible for the albergue and a its pilgrims. They are likely working under the direction of the owner. As a volunteer in my organizations I am responsible for the albergue and its pilgrim guests as well as to the organization that owns it. I am given the keys and responsibilities for my 2 weeks until the next hospitalero arrives.

There is room for both types of lodging and people on the CF are usually lucky enough to have lots of choices. Let's make peace. We have described our responsibilities and let's leave it at that. The OP has mentioned that the opportunities she has found are not her preference at this time.
 
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We each have our own approach.
There is room for both types of lodging and people on the CF are usually lucky enough to have lots of choices. Let's make peace.
You are volunteers and peacemakers, and I applaud your thoughts and opinion; straight from the horse's mouth.
 
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but I don't find the imposition of rigid and often pointless disciplines and the finger-wagging way it's done to have anything to do with service to pilgrims.
Be nice to the pilgrims, for God's sake and give the rules and the toilsome sacrifices a rest.
As other have said, the rules are not pointless, but serve those who want rest and quiet at a reasonable hour. There are plenty of hotels, pensions, CRs, and open fields for anyone who wants to eat or party late, smoke indoors, or leave late.

Buen camino, Gerard. I hope you can find comfort for what you want, and understanding about what many others need.

I do feel very sorry for all those volunteers who you call " bossy ", " bullies " and " nasty ". Most of them do not read this forum and can't defend themselves.
To all volunteers and hospis in parroquiales and municipales : I loved meeting you.
Keep up the good work. You all run a tight ship which I like
I feel very fortunate to be in the same parallel universe as you, Sabine. Where hospis and guidelines are appreciated and the camino is more about us/we than I/me.
Thank you to all who have and are serving! I so appreciate your hard work and like your tight ships too.

And - more directly about the OP - yes, Gerard is right. There are opportunities to volunteer at privados in a more relaxed way, if a long day's service is not what you seek right now.
 

Gerard Griffin

Active Member
If I've given the impresssion that I'm attacking hospitalero/as, then I'm sorry, I'm not. Since I started doing the Camino most of the hospitalero/as I've met have been wonderful. A significant few have appeared to have reached a stage of enlightenment and compassion that would've been the envy of Guatama himself. I owe such people's generosity of time and spirit a real debt; without them I might well have wound up as a large crimson splat at the bottom of the apartment block in which, when not on the Camino, I watch Netflix in the afternoon for long periods of empty time.

But although I hate to mention it in a forum where never is heard a discouraging word, hospitalero/as are human beings and therefore a few, a very few, can on occasion be a bit of a James, so to speak. Ah come on lads . . . you've all met them, and if not you soon will. They exist. All I am saying is that they might be asked, nicely, to be a bit nicer to the weary perigrini and not give them a hard time.

The rules are a different matter. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be any; they're like the rules of the road or the foxtrot, necessary and salutary. I'm saying that we all know them. I don't need to be told to be considerate to others because I was raised to be so. If others aren't I shrug my shoulders and put up with it. I don't wag the finger, I don't reprimand, and it makes me very, very annoyed indeed when some hospitalero/a tells me to do or not to do something in a manner that I haven't experienced since I was in school.

And some of the rules make no sense whatsoever. Few privados kick people out at 8 am and they're just as clean as municipals. No privado denies people a second night's stay. No privado if is has a kitched has no utensils or crockery. Many privados have wooden frame bunks that don't squeak all night long if the guy above you is restless. None have bunks where your left or right partner is closer to you than your spouse. These are areas which can be improved, and we need to improve, always.

Final point: the so-called "hippy" hostels, where there are no real rules and pretty much anything goes, including hospitalero/as who work a few hours a day and do what they like the rest of the time. They're wonderful. My favourites are still the amazing parrochial donativos where the living spirit of Christ is as alive and palpable and fills the heart with joy . . . thatnks in large measure to the people who run them, people whose kindness you can never forget. But there's a new spirituality, that of the young, an easy gentle affable tolerance and greacefulness, that delights me also. Think the beach in Finisterra as opposed to the Cathedral in Santiago. Different. New. The future. Why diss such holy places and the people who serve in them? Let's get together and feel all right, as Bob Marley suggests.
 
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A lot of good stuff to chew on there, and many good points @Gerard Griffin - thank you for graciously explaining what you meant, rather than coming our swinging.

Ah come on lads . . . you've all met them, and if not you soon will. They exist.
They must, but actually, I haven't yet, seven caminos and counting. I did once meet a couple who were hospis together who seemed to be in the throes of marital discord and it was pretty weird. But that was just flak. It wasn't directed at us pilgrims.

I'm all for tolerance and gentle compassion. But I really don't like it when - for example - a drunk 20-something peregrina (fortunately, or I would have yelled rape) tries to climb in my bunk with me thinking it was hers. At midnight. In that moment I was wishing the albergue had had locked gates that you can leave but not re-enter! That's what guidelines codify, and it protects everyone. If you want to call them rules, that's fine, but thinking in terms of communal coexistence makes them a gentler structure.
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Okay, this discussion has probably reached its end with all sides having their say. At this point, though, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point all of you in the direction of an excellent American book detailing what happens when a town throws out the rules and follows “what everyone knows is the right way to live”. For Americans, it’s a lesson on why we have rules, but for everyone else it’s a US history lesson and a cultural dissection that will really add to your insight of American culture. I receive no financial benefit from this book: “A Libertarian Walks into a Bear”

Even the title is a jokey homage to an old American way to start a joke…”A guy walks into a bar…”
 
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LenaOnTheRoad

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2013, Camino Portugues 2013, Via de la Plata 2016
The relaxed and flexible approach to volunteering which the OP seeks can of course be found on the Camino. This is exactly the kind of hospitality many pilgrims seek, as opposed to the rigid rules-based in-by-ten, out-at-eight, one night only, no- smoking-on-the-terrace mode that prevails in many parrochials and municipals. I admire hospitaleros immensely and value their service highly. Most are saints, it's a privilege to be in their presence. But I don't find the imposition of rigid and often pointless disciplines and the finger-wagging way it's done to have anything to do with service to pilgrims. I do, however, like the relaxed and gentle approach in those chilled privados with their volunteer hospitaleros/as. From speaking to them it seems that they can choose a routine that suits them and the owners are cool with that It's clear that "real" hospitaleros are proud of the regime they face and impose, and look down on those who lack such. Why? I think the OP would fit in perfectly in such places and find just the kind of situation they want. I hate to say it, but some hospitaleros are bullies, some are just nasty. Others are bossy and self-righteous and holier than thou. Think of hospitality in the sense of inviting someone into your home. Do you greet them with a list of rules and reprimand them if they fall short? Kick them out at 8 am? Privados can clean effectively without requiring that pilgrims vacate the premises and are happy to let people stay another night. Is there a reason why municipals and parrochials cannot? Other than the belief that suffering is good for the soul, your own and other people's? Be nice to the pilgrims, for God's sake and give the rules and the toilsome sacrifices a rest.
Thank you @Gerard Griffin, I totally agree with you. I love walking the camino, but I never understoood why it has to be such a serious and rigid thing. I would rather pay 10-15 Euros per night for a private albergue and have the freedome to get up when it suits me, than being in a place that feels like church (with all its rules and obligations and enforcement).

So, yes, I should rather look out for a private albergue, where work is considered as work. I'm not an angel, I need to rest and to eat and I offer my help for these things in exchange. If other people work all day unpaid and even don't get food for this work...Well, they are free to do so, but that is exactly that thing, that I don't like about catolicism and church: suffering, working hard, feeling blessed for working hard unpaid...I don't know..Not for me..
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
If other people work all day unpaid and even don't get food for this work...Well, they are free to do so, but that is exactly that thing, that I don't like about catolicism and church: suffering, working hard, feeling blessed for working hard unpaid...I don't know..Not for me..
I'm going to say right up front that I am not Catholic, so I don't know about that ethos from experience.
But I definitely understand the joy of giving of oneself generously. That hard work is not unpaid, just not in money, which in the end is a small and very limited means of recompense. The payment to the heart from working your butt off in the service of someone other than I/me/mine is immeasurable, and so much more satisfying than a fistful of Euros.

So maybe not for you right now, @LenaOnThe Road, and fair enough. Doing that kind of service isn't always realistic or possible. But I hope at some point you get to know first-hand the high of transcending our small individual priorities that comes with an exhausting day doing things to make other people happy, comfortable, and at ease. What you're seeking is definitely putting your toes in that water, so may you find a place that can use your skills, part-time!
 

SabineP

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
Thank you @Gerard Griffin, I totally agree with you. I love walking the camino, but I never understoood why it has to be such a serious and rigid thing. I would rather pay 10-15 Euros per night for a private albergue and have the freedome to get up when it suits me, than being in a place that feels like church (with all its rules and obligations and enforcement).

So, yes, I should rather look out for a private albergue, where work is considered as work. I'm not an angel, I need to rest and to eat and I offer my help for these things in exchange. If other people work all day unpaid and even don't get food for this work...Well, they are free to do so, but that is exactly that thing, that I don't like about catolicism and church: suffering, working hard, feeling blessed for working hard unpaid...I don't know..Not for me..


Do not want to go into a discusion which is the better : parroquial or private albergues.

Note to mods : please delete my post if not following the forumrules.

As a very lapsed Catholic I do have my ideas though.Once , long ago , Catholicism might be about suffering and guilt but for me now it is about pure Caritas! The same generous and unconditional Caritas I find in albergues of all kinds, but also the Caritas I find when talking to shopowners, staff at a centro de salud etc...

I always refer to the important phillosophy from Emmanuel Levinas about giving and empathy.
Face to Face /The Other.


Hope someone smarter than I comes in to give a more decent response :).
 

LenaOnTheRoad

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2013, Camino Portugues 2013, Via de la Plata 2016
Do not want to go into a discusion which is the better : parroquial or private albergues.

Note to mods : please delete my post if not following the forumrules.

As a very lapsed Catholic I do have my ideas though.Once , long ago , Catholicism might be about suffering and guilt but for me now it is about pure Caritas! The same generous and unconditional Caritas I find in albergues of all kinds, but also the Caritas I find when talking to shopowners, staff at a centro de salud etc...

I always refer to the important phillosophy from Emmanuel Levinas about giving and empathy.
Face to Face /The Other.


Hope someone smarter than I comes in to give a more decent response :).
Hm, no, actually a discussion about that is not really necessary, I think. I know what I like and you know what you like. There's no need to agree on one, on? The awesome thing is, there is something for everyone out there.
The Catolizism debate is a bigger issue. But probably not he right place to discuss :)
 

Bristle Boy

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
An interesting thread.
If it wasn't for the hospitalero/a giving their time and effort altruistically the remarkably low cost of accomodation would not exist and would take the financial cost of undertaking a camino outside the realms of many.
Nowhere, where market forces exist and fair wages paid for all work, then a monetary price is paid to avail yourself of the accomodation. This has nothing to do with religion or beliefs...just market forces and a need to survive.
I could recommend two books which expand on the discussion (not to be made here).
Firstly "The capitalist papers" by Jerry Mander (yes really) an easy read and one of the chapters could be, and possibly has been; used for one of the James Bond films.
The second "Why materialism is Baloney" by Bernardo Kastrup also an easy read

Our ability to offer our services free and for a better reason than monetary gain or reward depends sometimes due to our time of life, values and responsibilities.

It is thanks to the altruism of the hospitalero that we all benefit.
 
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LTfit

Veteran Member
I was a volunteer in 2013 (Najera) and 2019(Alfaro), prompted by a compulsion to give something back in return for the hospitality which I had experienced while doing my own Caminos. And a curiosity about what I now call the 'freedom of service'. In giving without measuring or counting, I received riches beyond measure in return. Cleaning a toilet can be a prayer/meditation, when one is doing it as a choice. I had rarely stayed in a private albergue on my previous Caminos, and I was often struck by the patience and kindness which met me at the end of a long day. It suggested another way of being, which could not be bought, sold or exchanged. While volunteering, my bed at night was a place to rest so that I could begin again in the morning. It was hard work physically, but I got a lot of serenity from the experience. I will be back to do it again. Last month I was on the Camino, walking from A Coruna to Santiago, and I was delighted to receive the same care and dedication from the volunteers at the municipal albergues at Carral and Bruma. Lena, it might be worth reading a post on Camino hospitality by Rebekah Scott in 2017, somewhere on this site because this kind of hospitality may become a distant memory.

Wonderfully said. For sure that's why I have volunteered 6 times since my first Camino Francés in 2010. I was welcomed and cared for with such kindness and warmth that I felt the pull/need to return a bit of that to others.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
Hi everyone,

as all the other threads on this topic are quite old, I thought I would start a new one with several questions on volunteering:

1) In General, how many hours is a hospitalero/volunteer expected to "work"? Half a day? Full day? Would one be able to work 3-4 hours per day in their real job (online)? Or would say that is difficult to manage, as there are always people arriving and you would miss half of the experience if you would "disappear" for 4 hours?

2) What is the deal about accomodation and food? Is it free for the volunteer?

3) To those who did this already: Was it a geat experience or was it a bit boring as the people change every day? is there an albergue that you would recommend as it a was super nice place?

4) Is there a platform/group for albergues looking for volunteers?

5) What are the tasks of a volunteers? I assume cleaning, shopping, cooking and the reception? Or are there more tasks?

Each advice is much appreciated!

Lena
Lena, your original post has elicited a range of replies. I was glad to see you returning recently, to comment. You have indeed seen that the volunteer in the donativo albergue context is not a way to expand your life experience in a way that other volunteering such as you have already benefitted from can offer. I already forget what woofing is, by the way! I hope you will be successful in finding a place where you can balance what you want with what an albergue run by another ogansiation or system asks of volunteers.
I will be doing some volunteer service for just under two weeks from now, but on the church side of things, and I look forward to that - the key attitude is one of being alert and not intruding, yet ready to engage if a pilgrim is looking for that.
Do get back and tell all who have been trying to respond to you, when you find something that meets your conditions. Buen camino.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022

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