FAQ - ReForesting Volunteer Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Here you can find FAQs and what to expect as a potential crew member.

Crewing Opportunities with House On Fire Foundation

What to consider before applying:

What is the minimum time commitment for volunteering?

We ask that you commit a very minimum of three months for volunteering abroad. It takes some to train new crew members and then to acclimate in the forest.  As you can imagine, changing crew too frequently can be disruptive to the overall mission.

Do I have to pay for my own airfares and other travel expenses?

Yes. You will need enough funds for airfares, ground transportation and lodging to get yourself to and from any airport. When you are at the reserve a place to sleep and three vegan meals each day is provided. Anything beyond that (extra food, entertainment, wiFi, phone calls) are your responsibility. Having $2000 in your bank account when joining to cover any unforeseen circumstances is recommended.

Do I need a US Visa?

You may need to acquire an appropriate visa. Sometimes crew members are asked to join abroad operating in another country where visas may not be needed or are easier to obtain.

Can I apply for specific dates?

You can specify on your application a date range or ‘open availability’. When a position becomes available, we search for crew available during that period. The larger your window of availability, the more likely an opportunity will come up in that time frame. When we have a suitable space available, you may be contacted you for an interview.

Can I apply for a specific role?

Yes, if you are a qualified in one of the specific roles onboard such as Cook, Engineering or Production.  If not, then this is ok too.

When we are looking to fill a volunteer position, we search for crew members with a specific skill set. We do our best to utilize your skills and place you in the most appropriate role on board. For example, if you are a chef, it’s unlikely we will ask you to work in our engineering department. You will be offered a position on the reserve where you will most benefit the campaign.

What if I have no previous experience?

House On Fire accepts volunteers with all sorts of backgrounds. Many of our volunteers have never worked on a Reserve before joining us! They learn everything they need to from veteran crew, professionals and those with specialized skills.

General Information:

Where are the campaigns located?

Our reserve is in Costa Rica, however we operate most often in the America’s and surrounding Forests of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, but we don’t necessarily have any geographical restrictions.

What campaigns are happening?

You will find information on all current and past campaigns from the Campaigns drop-down menu on the home-page of our website. We don’t announce future campaign plans for various reasons. If you are selected to volunteer, you may spend a significant amount of time helping to prepare for a campaign. Most often, volunteers earn their place on campaign by working in locally for months before. It is sometimes possible to directly enter a campaign while in progress.

How often are the campaigns?

The aim to have our campaigns as often as possible, but a lot of work goes into campaign planning and preparation. Having active campaigns requires a lot of support, so sometimes our ability to start a campaign is restricted to raising the needed funds and required maintenance to the reserve.

Can I apply for a specific campaign?

No, not necessarily. You can make a note on your application regarding your interests and skills. If you are selected to volunteer, we would expect you to join the campaign where you are needed most and most often that will be locally.

Can I do an internship, work experience or school training placement through House On Fire?

Unfortunately, we are rarely able to accommodate such requests. Most schools or work placements have set start and end dates and also require reporting based on your experiences. We do not have a strict timeline for campaigns, and plans can change unexpectedly. Only apply as a volunteer when you are free and able to commit and focus only on being a crew member.

How many crew on are on each campaign?

The number of crew at the reserve at any one time varies and is also dependent on the season. You can expect to join anywhere from 2 to 12 other individuals.

Applying for crew:

How do I apply to become a crew member?

The first step in becoming a House On Fire Conservation crew member at the reserve is to fill out the online crew application form.

How do I pay the application fee?

Once the application form is submitted, the next page directs you to a payment page where the fee can pay with PayPal or via Credit Card.

Why is there an application fee to crew?

In the early days, crew application fees are what help us put fuel in the tanks for campaigns! Due to the human resources and time required to process applications, this fee helps us effectively recruit new crew members into service. Furthermore, as all volunteers must arrange and pay for their own travel expenses to and from the reserve if the application fee is too difficult to make, the travel expenses maybe even more so. This application also aids us in keeping the non-serious applicants away.

If not selected to crew, can I get a refund?

It is a non-refundable, one-time donation, and hopefully, one you feel is going toward a worthy cause.

Is there a maximum time I can stay on board?

For new volunteers, we usually don’t commit to allowing any service for longer than 3 or 4 months. If things are progressing well, you are welcome to ask your department head, reserve manager, or Producer if you may extend your stay.  We do appreciate it when people can stay longer and continue to use the skills they have learned! We always reserve the right to ask people to leave at any time if things aren’t working out.

How do I apply for the House On Fire Reserve?

The first step in becoming a House On Fire crew member at the reserve is to fill out a crew application form. There is a link to the form located near the bottom of our crewing page: https://houseonfire.world/house-on-fire-volunteer-application/

After I submit my application:

Has my request been received?

You should receive a confirmation email immediately after the application is submitted. If you do not receive an email, please follow up with the crewing department by sending an email to crew@houseonfire.world

What happens after my application is received?

Once you submit your application, a profile is created on our crewing database, and your name could come up in any number of searches depending on your location, skills and availability. Unless you specifically ask us to ‘retire’ it, your application will remain actively on file with us. If we select you as a candidate, we’ll email you to schedule a video call interview and, if that goes well, invite you to join.

What are the qualities you are looking for in crew?

We love to receive applications from passionate individuals willing to work hard and take on any responsibility to contribute to the campaigns. The more flexible you are on time, the more likely we will have a position become available. Foresting skills are an asset but not essential, your ability to be committed, follow hierarchy and get along with others means a lot to us as well! We are always looking for qualified, experienced Producers, Engineers and vegan Cooks to join our team.

Does everyone eventually get selected?

Unfortunately not. We would love to be able to select all applicants, but we receive more applications than there are positions. The selection process is, therefore competitive.

I haven’t heard anything and my specified availability has been and gone?

With the number of applications received and staff in the crew department, we can only contact those whose time and skillset match the role we are recruiting. You can email the crew department to advise new availability or check on the status of your application.

Being accepted as crew:

How will I know what to bring?

If you are selected to join the crew, we will send you a welcome package containing all the information you will need to know, including location and crewing policies.

Where will the campaign be, and how do I get there?

If you are selected to join the crew, we will communicate individually with you to provide instructions and further information regarding your travel.

How much notice can I expect before joining the team? 

There’s a possibility that you’ll receive very little notification to join the team. The crewing needs on our campaigns change quickly, so be prepared to pack your bags and be ready to go in a week or less!

What to expect while At the reserve: 

What are accommodations like?

The crew accommodations are tight; you will be allocated a bed and share a cabin with anywhere from one to seven other people! The cabins are mixed gender. All crew share a unisex shower and toilet.

Will I need to bring my own food?

You can bring your own vegan snacks and treats. Keep in mind you will be fed three nutritious vegan meals per day!

What is the work schedule?

As you can imagine, while you are in the forest, the crew work seven days per week with no time off. On campaigns, crew work five and a half days a week.

What about the Internet, Email and Phone calls?

It is encouraged to purchase a local network Sim card for the personal use of the internet. Do not rely on an internet connection while in the forest. Internet is occasionally available to the crew but cannot be guaranteed.

Will I get arrested?

It is unlikely. We operate a professional organization and work in cooperation with governments and enforcement agencies around the world. However, you need to understand that participating in any House On Fire campaign carries with it some risk of arrest, fines or other consequences.

Are there any other policies and procedures I should know about before applying?

  • House On Fire maintains a zero-tolerance policy to drugs and that anybody in violation of this policy will be removed from the campaign immediately.
  • No smoking is allowed at the reserve.
  • The reserve is not a democracy; you must follow the chain of command.
  • Any dangerous, disrespectful or insubordinate behaviour will result in a crew member departing.