Volunteer in Thailand with Friends for Asia

Thailand Trunk Program

Local Thailand International School Student Summer Baby Elephant Volunteer Program

This project is in Chiang Mai.

Rising early to bathe a 200-pound bundle of joy. Harvesting grass shoulder-to-shoulder with a machete-wielding mahout. Fashioning elephant dung into paper… It’s not always glamorous, but volunteering with baby elephants is a once-in-a-lifetime experience – one that most people would never even dream of participating in.

For the summer of 2020, we are offering one week volunteer service projects for groups of international school students here in Thailand. This is an open enrollment program. Individual students apply, and become a part of a group of students from international schools throughout Thailand. Some of them you may know already, along with creating friendships with students from schools you aren’t familiar with. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to complete the application.

Thailand Trunk Program – A Day in the Life

Imagine going off the grid to a highland conservation facility in Northern Thailand. Accommodation is refreshingly rustic. A river churns past the perimeter of the camp, with lush tropical foliage pushing in on every side. Solar panels provide just enough power to keep the lights on after nightfall. Eat your heart out, Jane Goodall.

That’s a fair representation of life at the Elephant Nursery, and it only gets better from there. Each morning you’ll rise with the early crows of the junglefowl. But it’s likely another sound that’ll have you scrambling out of bed at the crack of dawn – the trumpeting blast of mother elephants, followed by the fainter echoes of their calves. These adorable babies need a safe place to nurse for the first two years of their lives, and your contribution to the Elephant Nursery helps make that possible.

Elephant Nursery Volunteer Tasks

These 100-kilogram pachyderms spend the day exploring the world and accumulating some all-important trunks-on experience under mom’s watchful eye. Plan on some seriously Instagramable moments. The day begins early (around 6:30 am), when volunteers head to the river to help bathe the mothers and babies before feeding them. After that, volunteers and on-site staff take a moment to feed themselves before tending to their daily tasks, which include everything from harvesting grass to making herbal medicine balls for the elephants.

As part of the volunteer group, you’ll join the full-time staff in tending the grounds and facilities. You’ll also be asked to greet and interact with day visitors at the camp, filling them in on some of the details of the important conservation work carried out here.

Making a Difference – Thailand Trunk Program

Believe it or not, one of the biggest challenges at the elephant camp is harvesting enough food to keep these leviathans happy and healthy. The mothers easily weigh three or four metric tons, and they routinely eat upwards of 135 kilograms (300 pounds) of vegetation per day. When they’re nursing a calf, their daily dietary needs increase substantially.

Simply heading out with the staff on a daily basis to harvest grass, corn, bananas and other treats makes a huge difference in these elephants’ lives. By donating your time and resources to an above-board project like this – one that prioritizes elephant health and well-being over shows and stunts – you can also count yourself among a small-but-growing number of conscientious actors. The people at this Elephant Nursery are working toward a viable solution to the elephant conservation crisis, and you can join them.

Finally, you’ll also have the chance to work with local villagers, most of whom are staff members and their families. Most of these people come from ethnic minority hilltribes in Northern Thailand and are eager to learn and practice English with visiting volunteers. Many volunteers choose to help out at the local school when time permits.

Elephant Nursery in Thailand: Student Volunteer Qualifications

Students must be between the ages of 14-18 years old and a current enrolled student at an international school here in Thailand. Students must be able bodied, enjoy the outdoors, and eager to learn more about elephants.

The program is run with English as the medium of communication. Students do not have to be native English speakers to participate, but must be able to communicate in English.

Each group will have a western and local staff person providing coordination and supervision 24 hours per day.

Smoking, consumption or possession of alcohol or illicit drugs are strictly prohibited, will be monitored, and are grounds for separation from the program.

Volunteer Stories

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

I would recommend this program to any animal lover, or anyone wanting to learn about a new species. -Dr.Diana Roberts – Colorado, USA

The elephants are amazing creatures and the happiness, simplicity and acceptance of life from the village people is so overwhelming. -Lina Quintal – Horsley, Australia

Elephant Nursery Volunteer Accommodation

Accommodation is provided for the duration of the Elephant Nursery project, though students have a slightly different arrangement than those at other projects. During orientation, students will stay in Chiang Mai at FFA-provided accommodation.

From Monday to Friday, volunteers stay at the elephant camp. The accommodation is delightfully rustic. You’ll have enough power to charge a phone and keep the lights for some late-night reading. Hot-water showers are available – a bona fide indulgence in a jungle setting like this.

Volunteer Fees

Participation in the Local International School Student Elephant Nursery Volunteer Project is 9,950 Thai Baht.

Project Fee Includes

Volunteer Fee Does Not Include

  • Travel to/from Home and Chiang Mai (airfare, train tickets, etc.)
  • Thailand visa costs (if applicable)
  • International Medical Insurance

International School Student Summer Elephant Program Start Dates

  • Session A: 27th of June – 4th July, 2020 (Full)
  • Session B: 4th – 11th of July, 2020 (Full)
  • Session C: 11th – 18th July, 2020
  • Session D: 18th – 25th July, 2020

Apply for this program now!

Applying is Free!

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