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Operations team placements


Applications for 2019 are now closed

Placement dates
Group 1: 26/05/19 – 13/07/19
Group 2: 14/07/19 – 31/08/19

The Operations Team is at the centre of the Thórsmörk Trail Volunteer programme and it’s responsibilities include leading volunteers, organising camps, managing work tasks, project food, supplies and providing logistical support to our groups. We are looking for participants who have experience of working with teams, enjoy camping and hill walking, and spending time in the wilderness. These placements are especially well suited to applicants who have volunteered before and who are looking for additional challenges and responsibilities.

Leadership roles and placement structure
Operations team volunteers are involved in all aspects of our volunteer programme both helping to manage the teams and directly carrying out practical tasks themselves. The leadership roles are divided between participants based on their interests, skills and experience. The main roles including Project leading (responsible for one of the camps), Team leading (assigned to a particular team) and Site leading (responsible for a particular practical project). In some cases Assistant leaders may be assigned to support them. In addition to leading, volunteers is involved in a wide range of support roles helping with the day to day running of the programme. Roles are shared and participants move between these roles during their placement. Operations team volunteers take part in a week of leadership training at Langidalur (Thórsmörk) before being assigned roles and teams at the Langidalur and Básar (Goðaland) camps where the majority of our work activity is focused. During the placements there will also be opportunities to lead long-range projects and to take part in our Highland teams.

Our work
The practical work we do can be divided into two main parts; trail maintenance and erosion control. The trail maintenance work involves a huge variety of practical tasks including improving drainage, building steps with timber or stone, resurfacing trails with gravel and installing signs. Hand tools including rock bars and stone carriers are used for much of the work but machinery is brought in to support the teams were access allows. Timber from local forests is used in the construction of steps and drains along the trails. Trail marking is another important part of our work as it helps to prevent damage to fragile areas and improve safety for visitors. Way-markers for the trails are made on site by our volunteers.

The Forest Service is currently developing a new system of trail mapping in Thórsmörk. The Pathfinder project combines GIS mapping and photographs with a quality grading system. We have also introduced a numbering system for the trail markers in the area which helps to improve safety on the trails. This mapping work is now being increased to include sites throughout the area.

Long-range projects – These are organised from both Langidalur (Thórsmörk) or Básar (Goðaland) camps and are a way of accessing remote worksites. Our volunteers stay at wilderness camps close to worksites and carry their equipment, materials and food. Long-range projects run for up to 4 days.

Work times
Our volunteers do practical work from Monday to Friday and the working day normally runs from 09.00 to 18.00, however this schedule can vary due to the nature of some of the projects. Operations team activities may involve organisational tasks on weekends in which case additional free time will be made available. Participants must also be prepared for some flexibility in these working hours due to Iceland’s changeable weather. Worksite are generally 15-45 minutes walk from the camps. The programme includes 2 days off during each working week.

Holiday / hiking week
We have included a holiday/hiking week for all Operations team volunteers to allow time to explore the area or travel further afield. We invite our volunteers to join us and take part in the famous 4-day hike Landmannalaugar to Thórsmörk (Laugavegur hiking trail). We will organise transport to the start of the hike and lightweight food for the teams. The hike is optional and participants who do not wish to take part may make their own travel arrangements during this time. Participants do not have to make a decision about the hike until the week before.

It is important that anyone wishing to complete the hike makes sure that they bring all the necessary personal equipment with them, as it will not be possible to obtain additional equipment in Thórsmörk (See our Equipment list for volunteers). It is important to note that the weather in Iceland’s mountains is very changeable and poor conditions may result in the hike being delayed or cancelled.

Holiday / hiking week for group 1: 23/06 – 29/06
Holiday / hiking week for group 2: 11/08 – 17/08

Placement costs
There is no participation fee. Our volunteers pay their own travel costs to Iceland and join their team at the Langidalur base-camp in Thórsmörk. Throughout the placement, food, transport and campsites are provided. Please note that participants cover their own costs if they leave the project area during their free time.

Gloves and waterproofs for work are provided as well as any additional safety equipment that is required during the work tasks. Participants need to bring their own personal equipment and it is very important that our volunteers are well prepared. Essentials include: waterproofs and warm clothes, hiking boots and a sturdy tent that you are able to carry when hiking. See our Equipment list for volunteers.

Food is provided throughout the placement (including weekends and during the hiking week). It is important that participants inform us about special dietary requirements before of their placement, as food is often organised  ahead of the projects. Volunteers take part in food preparation and all other domestic tasks at the camps.

Our volunteers organise their own travel to the meeting point at Thórsmörk (Húsadalur).

Participants organising their own travel insurance for the duration of the placement.

Our campsites
Our teams stay at established volunteer camps and wilderness camps during their placements. Our established camps at Langidalur (Thórsmörk) and Básar (Goðaland) have basic facilities including toilets, showers, cooking facilities and group tents for eating in.  Our long-range wilderness camps have no facilities and all food and equipment is carried in by the teams.

Applications are open between December 15th and January 31st.

Further information can be found in our Volunteer Guide.
If you have any questions, please contact us by email: