Injury hasn’t stopped Sam Schroder from taking part in parkrun, instead, she’s found a new way to participate – voluntourism.
What’s voluntourism? Put simply, travelling from your home parkrun to volunteer.
After breaking her knee, Sam felt despondent about not running. “I was really upset that I couldn’t run at parkrun. But then I thought I’m not going to sit at home and feel sorry for myself.”
As an enthusiastic tourist with 34 different parkruns to her name, Sam had no qualms about visiting different parkruns. Volunteering was not new to Sam either, having already volunteered 78 times at her home parkrun at Picton in NSW. But, travelling just to volunteer was a new experience.
On her first morning as a “voluntourist”, Sam travelled to Shellharbour parkrun and despite not knowing anyone, was immediately made to feel welcome.
“That’s the beauty of voluntourism, you just go up and say, hello I’m Sam, to the person in the blue and white vest and they’re very pleased to see you.”
Sam left Shellharbour with three new friends and increased confidence about travelling away from her home parkrun to volunteer.
“I’ve come to realise every group of volunteers at every parkrun is as lovely as those volunteers at my home parkrun in Picton.”
Rather than waiting for events to post ‘please help’ messages on Facebook, Sam now spends each Monday morning searching for events with spaces in their volunteer rosters.
“I’m able to say before you ask for help, please can I come and help you this weekend?”
And while she’s looking forward to running again soon, Sam will continue to “voluntour” because of how much joy it brings her.
“There are so many people you meet at parkrun where this is their social outing for the week. This is the thing that’s giving them some connection and some sense of community and belonging and it matters so much to them.”
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