The West

Volunteering for school leavers
Unleashed Travel's elephant conservation volunteering program will take young volunteers to Tha Thum , Thailand. Picture: Angela Pownall

Amid all the talk of wild parties, responsibility is foremost in the minds of an increasing number of schoolies, say the folk at Unleashed Travel.

As we approach the end of the school year, they say that a growing number of leavers want to experience more from their end-of- school celebrations, and they have introduced two socially responsible schoolies programs in Thailand.

One is community volunteering, the other working on elephant conservation.

Unleashed Travel chief executive Jot Lynas says: "We are seeing increasing demand among school leavers for greater cultural experiences. Volunteering is growing in popularity. Our existing Project Unleashed program, which manages the donation of books and stationery to Fijian children, has already seen considerable involvement among our travellers."

Unleashed Travel's two new volunteering travel packages to Thailand will kick off in November next year but are selling now.

The community volunteering program gives schoolies the chance to build a home for refugee children in Sangklaburi, a village near the Thai-Burmese border.

The elephant conservation volunteering program will take them to Tha Thum ("District of Elephants") in far-north Surin. There are approximately 250 elephants in the village and the volunteers will assist with maintaining and planting crops, which provide food for the elephants, and washing them at a local river.

Each year Unleashed Travel takes more than 3000 students overseas from Bali to Vanuatu. The 2013 volunteering programs are expected to sell out by December.

I share Unleashed Travel's faith in our many inspiring youngsters.

_Stephen Scourfield _

_Travel Editor _

The West Australian

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