Ella’s trip to Borneo well and truly established her passion for meaningful travel, inspiring her to become a Camps Ambassador to help even more people start their own adventures. Read on for her account of the highs, the challenges and the amazing sense of achievement volunteering overseas.
I travelled to Borneo 2015 and honestly, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
Before I arrived, I hadn’t really thought about what the living and eating area would be like in camp, but I was surprised at how nicely built and spacious it was. Another aspect that surprised me was the heat, when I first got off the plane I felt the initial heat as you always do going abroad but it didn’t go away. I was worried about how I was going to cope but after a couple of days it just felt normal and so much better than England!
A typical day in camp consisted of waking up around 6am after hearing the gong (or the cockerel if you’re in Bongkud!), putting your clothes on for the day and going for breakfast. This usually included porridge or noodles, I loved the morning noodles. Then we had some time to wash and pack for a day of project work. As a group we travelled to the project destination, and were given a quick briefing and then onto the work.
Personally, I found working in the heat tiring but we could take necessary breaks and had a long rest during lunch; we ate and then had plenty of time to talk, rest, rehydrate and even sleep if you really wanted to! After we were refuelled, we carried on the project for the afternoon and then walked back to camp.
We then had time to chill, this included having a shower or do some washing before the gong went for dinner. YUM! Normally we had rice, some sort of veg and meat, I always enjoyed and don’t worry, you will NEVER go hungry. The camp staff always make sure you are well fed, we even got snacks during the day; donuts and banana bread!
In the evening, we would all chill out together, write our diaries and talk or play games. We never failed to laugh before bed, I had such an amazing group of people surrounding me.
I believe the most challenging part of my trip was the jungle. Mainly because I HATE packing and we needed to reorganise our luggage for five days into our smaller rucksack. I found this super difficult because it felt like no matter what I needed it was always at the bottom of my bag. I found dinner time tough as I didn’t particularly like the food in the jungle, however I didn’t let it get me down and just ate the rice and veg with sauce and made sure I had enough.
I felt like the trip was starting to get really tough, then one of the teachers saved me. She was brilliant and helped me when I was struggling with my bag and spoke to me about random things to make me feel better, now I truly believe the jungle was the best experience I have ever had.
The most rewarding projects were in the jungle; we planted so many trees and afterwards the impact we had made was incredible to see. It felt super fab to have really seen a difference.
My absolute favourite memory from the trip has to be the zip wire we were so lucky to go on; it went from one island to another, so straight over the sea. This day was particularly great; we also got to go on a banana boat (which was so fun but also scary) and parasailing which meant I saw some beautiful views.
My advice to future travellers is to make sure you really want to do it because at times it can be difficult but it’s all worth it to see the change you’ve made towards another community. This is the exact reason I knew I wanted to be a Camps Ambassador, I would love more people to get on board these trips and feel amazing about what they have achieved. I would also say make sure you’re willing to save some money because believe me, you’re going to want to travel even more!
If Ella’s story has inspired you to get involved and make a difference whilst exploring incredible new places, request a brochure today and see where your journey could take you.