HistoriCorps Volunteers: Saving Places Since 2009

Everyone can be a HistoriCorps Volunteer! We team up crews of volunteers from all walks of life with our expert field staff to learn preservation skills and put those skills to work saving historic places that have fallen into disrepair.

Join us for an adventure in the great outdoors this season! Help us hammer, reroof, chisel, repair, replace, paint, and sand historic buildings back to life. No previous construction experience is required - just a positive attitude and strong work ethic.

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The cold can't stop this HistoriCorps volunteer crew at Sylvan Lake State Park, CO! 

What to Expect

During a HistoriCorps project you can expect to make new friends, learn new skills, create life-long memories and have FUN! Remember:

  • HistoriCorps provides all meals, tools, training, personal safety equipment, and materials.
  • We help you prepare for your preservation project through providing a "pre-arrival packet" via email. The packet contains a lot of information like: logistics, safety precautions, a suggested packing list, benefits for volunteers, and more.
  • We are always ready to answer your questions. Expect us to be in touch a few times before your project begins to confirm attendance, offer advice, and share updates.

You've got questions? We've got answers.

HistoriCorps works with our project partners to offer free tent camping on almost all projects. Many projects are RV/trailer accessible, but there are rarely hookups available. If tent camping is not available, lodging in cabins or bunkhouses will be provided. Some projects are near or in urban areas that have hotels for those who prefer modern lodging.

Volunteers should plan to bring their own camping gear and work clothes. Make sure what you bring is applicable to the area you're going to. For example, folks from Louisiana who want to do a project in the mountains of Wyoming should do their research on mountain weather and terrain so they can be as prepared as possible. HistoriCorps will provide meals, tools, training, and materials. For a more extensive suggested packing list that will be applicable to most projects, check out our guide once it's finished! (We're still developing the best possible guide, check back in a few weeks.)

Dogs are generally allowed to accompany their humans to jobsites (actually, we love having dogs join us around the campfire!). However: HistoriCorps asks that all dogs be kept away from the jobsite for both human and dog safety. HistoriCorps also follows the rules and regulations of our project partner. If the project partner does not permit dogs onsite, then HistoriCorps is no exception. Please ask HistoriCorps or the project partner directly if you have any questions about whether Fido is welcome.

You are the best judge of your own physical and technical ability. Though previous experience is not required for the vast majority of HistoriCorps projects, choosing a project that does not align well with your current fitness level or interests can negatively affect the project, your personal experience, and even that of your crew's. Remember that you will be expected to work full days in the field, in variable weather conditions. For the sake of your own safety and that of your crew, it is incredibly important that the project you register for is appropriate for you, and that your abilities align with the project's demands. It is also important for all volunteers, and most especially first-time volunteers, to read our Volunteer FAQs page before you register. Please, call us if you are not quite sure if a project is a good fit for your skills or fitness level. We may be able to suggest a project more suitable and enjoyable for you. Thank you for your understanding.

Each site is different in what it offers - from hot water to solar showers, flush toilets to latrines. Make sure to check your pre-arrival packet and ask questions!

Historicorps recognizes that injuries are a possibility when working on projects of this nature. We appreciate the time volunteers contribute to us and provide Blanket Accident coverage to volunteers as part of our insurance program. This product is designed to provide a limited ($25,000) benefit for medical expenses, accidental death or dismemberment. The product is not designed to replace traditional insurance, so it is advisable that HistoriCorps volunteers carry their own medical coverage.

HistoriCorps has partnered with agencies and organizations around the country to preserve more than 240 buildings. We are proud of the wonderful relationships we have developed with our project partners, volunteers, students and veterans, without whom none of this would be possible. Though HistoriCorps works very hard to ensure each project goes smoothly – often tracking logistics on a daily basis during the weeks leading up to the start date -- on very rare occasions a session's dates may be changed or cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control.  Many of you are familiar with some of these circumstances: snow, wildland fires, tropical rains, a government shutdown, bureaucratic red tape. When a situation arises where a change or cancellation of a session is unavoidable and imminent, volunteers will be notified immediately via email and phone. Volunteers often plan months in advance to participate on projects, just as we do (sometimes taking a year or more from inception to project start date), so changes or cancellations are disappointing for all of us.  We will do everything we possibly can to mitigate the situation, but we trust you understand that HistoriCorps, regrettably, is not in a position to offer our volunteers reimbursements for expenses incurred. 

Yes! On a typical HistoriCorps project session (Sunday-Friday), volunteers can expect to receive 35-40 community service hours, not including travel to and from the project. If you need to have your hours verified, please bring your paperwork to the project.

In short, we'd prefer you to only register for a project if you can be there for the full session. The longer answer is, we carefully plan our work flow and anticipated scope of work based on volunteers being onsite for a full session. Having volunteers come and go is more difficult to accommodate in a construction environment, which can affect this work flow and the amount we are able to accomplish. Also, one of the best parts about HistoriCorps projects is the camaraderie that develops when volunteers are camping and working together for a full week. It's harder for the magic to happen when volunteers are only onsite for a couple of days or hours. In some cases we may be able to accommodate shorter-term volunteers - just send us an email or call and we can chat about it.

Yes! Everyone who is interested in deepening their understanding of historic preservation is invited to explore and join the HistoriCorps Institute.

There's nothing like a cold drink after a long day of work. If you're 21 or older and alcohol is legal where we're camping, yes! Please drink responsibly and be considerate of your fellow volunteers and the area we're camping in. Alcohol is not permitted on the worksite. Examples of areas that generally have restrictions on alcohol include certain Native American reservations, dry counties, and the state of Utah. Check if you're not sure.

Marijuana use is not permitted on HistoriCorps projects even if it is legal in the state we are working in. Aside from safety concerns associated with intoxicants, we primarily work on federal lands, and marijuana is not legal federally.

Additional information about HistoriCorps restrictions: Volunteers are required to follow all federal, state and local laws while on a project. As with any job site, safety is important. Volunteers cannot be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while on the job site. In order to provide a safe job site free from potential distractions or conflicts, pets are not allowed on the job site. If you are planning to camp near the site, pets must be confined within your campsite during working hours.

Customarily, we discourage having non-volunteers on HistoriCorps projects, primarily for practical reasons, as the benefits of our project partnerships (e.g. free campsites, providing water and showers, meal budget, insurance and liability, etc.) are in place for registered volunteers. Also, having non-volunteers onsite for the duration of a project can impact the camaraderie and camp culture somewhat as volunteers all eat meals together, prepared by the crew leader. Those who prefer to contribute to this aspect of the HistoriCorps can register as a Camp & Kitchen Helper on projects that offer that option. Thank you for your understanding!

A Sample Session for a Project

A typical HistoriCorps project session runs for about one week. Each project is different and varies due to location, weather, and project needs, but generally follows the sample agenda below:

Day 1: Staging  
5:00 - 7:00pm Volunteers arrive at the campsite to meet HistoriCorps field staff and set up camp. Safety plans are discussed.
Days 2-5: Project Work  
Safety Circle (trust us, this will be valuable and fun)
Begin preservation work
12:00pm Break for lunch
12:30pm Continue preservation work
3:00pm Break for snacks and a presentation about the significance of the historic building/structure
3:15pm Continue preservation work and wrap up for the day
6:00pm Dinner and free time for stories around the fire or local excursions
Day 6: Departure  
Final, and possibly most fun, safety circle
8:30am Continue preservation work
11:30am Clean-up
12:30pm Lunch and project wrap-up
1:00pm Departure

Matchless Mine, Leadville, CO, 2017

Guide to Project Description Icons

Icon Meaning
Tent camping only Tent camping is available. Almost all HistoriCorps projects encourage tent camping. On some projects, tent camping is the only option available. Check the project description to make sure.
Site is RV/trailer accessible Campsite is trailer/RV accessible. HistoriCorps does not provide hookups, so volunteers should be prepared to "dry camp."
Indoor lodging provided  Indoor lodging provided. Expect generally primitive accommodations. Volunteers will likely need to bring their own sleeping bag and pillow. Shared shower and restroom facilities are generally provided.
   This project takes place at more than 6,000' of altitude. Those who are not acclimated should research the effects of altitude on one's body (like fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, and dehydration) and consider arriving a day or two early to get adjusted to the altitude.
4WD required Campsite is only accessible by a 4WD / High Clearance vehicle. If you want to attend a project your vehicle isn't equipped for, ask HistoriCorps how you can get a ride with us or another volunteer, and leave your car in a safe spot.
 showers available  Showers are available onsite or quite close by
Hike in Required Volunteers will be required to hike into the project site while carrying their own gear. As you can imagine, this icon is used almost exclusively on our wilderness projects. Not recommended for first-time backpackers.

Rating the Relative Difficulty of Project Work

The colored dials below indicate the relative difficulty of a project's scope of work. Most projects will fall somewhere in the middle of the range of difficulty dial. These dials only indicate the nature of the scope of work and do not necessarily rate the project site.

Green dials indicate the easiest projects with tasks that almost any person would be able to undertake. These projects will generally not involve working on roofs, at heights, or on foundations underneath buildings.

Yellow dials will make up the bulk of HistoriCorps projects and are considered to be at of intermediate difficulty. The scope of work on these projects will involve some more challenging tasks like working on a ladder, moving heavy materials, and some roof and foundation work. If you are up for anything, these projects are for you.

The orange dial indicates our more difficult projects. The bulk of work on these projects will primarily be of a difficult or physically demanding nature, like roofing; carrying heavy logs; or working with primarily hand tools. If you're up for anything and enjoy a challenge, these projects are for you.

The red dial indicates our most difficult projects. These projects may require a refundable deposit to register for them. These projects take place in remote areas that are difficult to access, require a significant increase of logistical planning and expenditure on HistoriCorps' part, and require volunteers to be physically ready for difficult work in a difficult environment. Volunteers will be expected to carry their own gear for hours while hiking into the work and campsite; be prepared for inclement weather with minimal shelter; and work longer days than usual on rustic structures without access to power tools and modern technology. Sound fun? We thought so.