My childcare volunteering experience in Romania

My childcare volunteering experience in Romania

My childcare volunteering experience in Romania…

Brasov is a magnificent, colourful, and charming city. I felt at home as soon as I arrived in Bucharest.

Razvan was extremely welcoming and helpful with providing information on our daily routine and tips for traveling around Romania when we had free time on the weekends.

This trip made me realise that the time spent with the children in Brasov was merely just scraping the outer edges of childcare, and how important it is that their health and education is provided for them.

The one month that I spent in Brasov went by with a blink of an eye. I spent the mornings at the children’s hospital in Amalia’s play room and the afternoons at two different care homes. The children are gorgeous and have wonderful smiles, although there was a language barrier it was highly enjoyable to play and have fun with the children.

All I can say is “multumesc” and that I will definitely be going back to Brasov in the near future.

My childcare volunteering experience in Romania

For more information on Romania, check out our Romania webpage or email Anne at


Game Ranger 2015 Course Dates

Oyster is pleased to offer an 8 week game ranger course in South Africa, designed to give you theoretical and practical training to become a qualified field guide.

The course takes place on a large game reserve, home to Africa’s Big 5 as well as many other species. It introduces you to the life of a game ranger, the animals on the reserve and the background knowledge of wildlife that is key to gaining this recognised qualification.

Departure dates for 2014 and 2015 include:

  • 9th June 2014
  • 11th August 2014
  • 13th October 2014
  • 30th March 2015
  • 8th June 2015
  • 10th August 2015
  • 12th October 2015

The first few weeks of the course focus on the general aspects of working in a game reserve. You will team up with other volunteers to gain exposure to the wildlife and get the chance to learn and understand the basics of life on a reserve. This includes:

  • lion tracking and monitoring
  • removal of alien vegetation in and around the reserve
  • planting of natural species
  • helping out with the predator breeding programme
  • wilderness trail walks and patrols
  • fence patrol
  • game counts
  • game captures
  • game drives
  • elephant sanctuary participation

After this participation, you will also receive regular lectures and training in preparation for the examination at the end of the 8 week course. These subjects include:

  • elephant sanctuary participation
  • geology
  • astronomy
  • weather and climate
  • basic ecology
  • taxonomy (wildlife idenitification)

Game Ranger 2015 Course Dates


You can find out more information by visiting our Game Ranger webpage or by contacting Anne on or on +44 (0) 1892 770 771


Two new cubs arrive at big 5 sanctuary

The big 5 project in South Africa is delighted to welcome two new orphaned lion cubs to the rehabilitation family.

Under unfortunate circumstances these cubs were not receiving the appropriate care by their mother due to complications at birth. The difficult decision was made to remove the cubs temporally to provide them with the proper care they need to survive. Once the cubs are of the right age and health they will then be reunited with their mum!

The big 5 project has been running successfully for several years including the rehabilitation of animals, which have once again been able to roam free in their natural environment. This is due to the specialised team who have a great deal of experience in this area.

Our volunteers have seen first hand the valuable work the big 5 staff do. The volunteers even assist the talented staff in lion tracking, monitoring, care, interaction and general animal management.

Amy Youngman, 2 weeks January 2014

 “This was everything I wanted and even more. I was so surprised how close we got to the animals and how much we could get involved with everything. Everyone was so lovely. For me it was a life changing experience which really opened my eyes to animal conservation and the damage humans cause to the enviroment, and also how other people live. Getting so close to wild animals and watching them in the natural habbitat was something I always wanted to do so it has been a dream come true and even better than I ever thought. I would like to thank everyone at Oyster and the reserve for the best 2 weeks of my life!”

Two new cubs arrive at big 5 sanctuary

For more information on our big 5 project visit our webpage or contact Anne on +44 (0) 1892 771975 or by email:


Monkey Planet

I am a huge fan of nature and wildlife documentaries so when I saw the BBC trailers for ‘Monkey Planet‘ I was giddy with excitement. I find monkeys fascinating and enjoy finding out more information that can help me to understand them more.

Monkey Planet


The first episode ‘Meet the Family’ showed the great range of primates and how they have adapted to environments across the planet. I was amazed by how many primates are out there (which I had no idea about!) but also that sloths and lemurs are considered primates themselves!

The second episode ‘Family Matters’ was brilliant! Again, the documentary showed a range of primates and how they operate and communicate in a different ways, but they do so as a family. The episode highlighted that the key to their survival in the wild is the close-knit relationships.

The primates that particularly stood out to me were the vervet monkeys in South Africa. This is for several reasons the main one being Oyster has a project in South Africa which works with the vervet monkeys but also how clever they are as a family.

During the episode Dr George McGavin (presenter of the series) plays vervet monkey audio ‘callings’ off his phone which reveled amazing results! It turns out the vervet monkeys have a refined alarm system to warn others of predators. He showed a few examples which were extraordinary, he played the alarm for snakes and in an instant the monkeys all stood up and looked towards the ground, he then played an alarm for bird predators where they all jumped for the trees and placed themselves deep within branches to protect them from birds which could swoop in from different directions.

He went on to explain this alarm system only works through trust between the monkeys and learning from each other. This starts from birth. Like humans, primates are one of the only other animals to care for their babies for a long period of time. The babies initially need close interaction this is where they learn and understand the trust element. As they get older they become more curious and this is where the learning element comes into play. They observe their fellow families behavior, and begin to leave their mothers side were they play and interact.

Monkey PlanetAfter watching this I realised more so than ever before how valuable Oyster’s South Africa monkey project is. The centre cares for orphaned vervet monkeys and the volunteers act as a surrgant parent where they bottle feed them as they snuggle up in their arms just like they would with their natural mother. The volunteers also spend time with the older monkeys encouraging them to play and interact with each other, just like they would in the wild. Once a family unit is established the human interaction is gradually decreased and thus begins the rehabilitation process to get them back out into the wild, where they will hopefully go on to live a happy and normal life as seen on the documentary.

The next episode ‘Master Minds’ will be shown on BBC1 on Wednesday 16th at 9pm, where Dr George McGavin will be exploring the incredible minds of primates and highlighting just how intelligent the primates are. If you would like to see the first two episodes you can watch them on iPlayer now.

Monkey Planet













To find out more about our monkey rehabilitation project in South Africa visit our webpage and check out our monkey blog for reviews and updates. If you have any questions you can contact Anne the destination manager on +44 (0) 1892 771975 or by email:


Coach sports in South Africa and witness kids excel

Coach sports in South Africa and witness kids excell

Each year Oyster sends groups of volunteers to South Africa to bring sports to the children of Port Elizabeth’s townships. The majority of these schools do not have the facilities nor the resources for teaching physical education, and as such our international volunteers are able to help with development in these areas.

On an annual basis about 20,000 school children are reached in the sports coaching and teaching programmes.  Our volunteers work hard not only to coach sports to them, but also to help them develop the skills of team work, motivation and confidence.

Each year we see several of these children really excelling in the sports that they do. Annual funding allows for about 100 of these children to earn a scholarship at a secondary school in the area, something which is usually far beyond the budget of most township families.

In addition to this opportunity, a food outreach programme is run so that each of the children on this programme can receive at least one meal a day so that they are fit and healthy to participate in the extra demands of formal education and sports practice. Oyster have been delighted to sponsor many of these children on this food programme.

We were delighted to hear back from one of the kids who achieved a scholarship at a local secondary school for her outstanding efforts and achievements in netball.

Lindiwe grew up in a township on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth where she was brought up by her older sister. Due to her determination and motivation, Lindiwe was awarded a scholarship for high school in 2011. This was a huge jump up for her from her very modest primary school in the township. Whilst the first term at the school proved to be very difficult due to the huge difference in education and competition, her dedication soon shone through.  Her results started to improve as she began spending extra time on her homework, attended extra classes and spent her weekends dedicated to reading. She is now a member of the debate team and also represents the school using her netball talent.

She has worked hard and now has the ambition is to become a Lawyer and has even applied to four of the top Universities in South Africa. She will be the first in her family and even the first within our groups to reach this goal.

We wish her the best of luck for the future and would like to thank all our volunteers for their support and contribution to the children’s self-esteem and talents.

Coach sports in South Africa and witness kids excell

To find out more visit our South Africa sports programme webpage or you can contact Anne the destination manager on +44 (0) 1892 771975 or by email:


A day in MAX4 – ski lessons for adults, where less is definitely more!

Julie has recently returned from Whistler with high recommendations for Whistler Blackcomb’s Max4 Lessons for adults. If you like the idea of doing a ski season but have no previous experience or maybe your planning to visit a friend or family member who is doing a ski season and your worried you will not keep up,  read on…


My experience as a childcare volunteer in Romania

My experience as childcare volunteer in Romania

My experience as a childcare volunteer in Romania

This year I travelled to Romania to engage in volunteer work with children, having no idea what to expect…

I spent the majority of my month abroad volunteering at a small Family home in the city of Gimbav, the centre specialising in children with criminal backgrounds, behavioural issues, and much more – often coming from gypsy families, meaning they are extremely uneducated and in some cases, even emotionally and physically neglected.

I found that while the other volunteers and I were there, the children were ecstatic to have us come and hang out with them. They were content to have us just sit and do bubble writing with them all day if we could have, and the only thing hard to handle about the work was spreading your attention out evenly, as all the children wanted to talk to you all the time.

Leaving the Family home was probably the most challenging experience of my volunteer journey.

I would highly recommend volunteering in Romania with the children, it’s a worthwhile cause that not only benefits the kids, but the volunteers as well.

My experience as a childcare volunteer in Romania

For more information on Romania, check out our Romania webpage or email Anne at


Great family friendly hotels – where to stay in Whistler

Julie has recently returned from Whistler having visited as a parent and has provided us with a couple of reviews of where to stay in Whistler. If you have parents who want to visit you in Whistler, or if you are a parent planning a trip, read on…


Where to stay in Whistler - Delta Village SuitesIf you want to be in the heart of the buzzing village of Whistler then the Delta Whistler Village Suites, situated at the bottom of the village is worth considering.

Its suites offer one/two bedrooms with a living area with a pull out sofa bed (not very comfortable), armchairs, TV, gas fire, a washing machine and dryer and a cupboard for ski gear storage. There is also a small kitchen area with seating for 6.

The bedrooms are compact and come with an attached bathroom and a TV. Storage is adequate with a chest of drawers and a small wardrobe.

The hotel provides robes and towels for use in the its free health club which has a gym, sauna, hot tubs and heated indoor and outdoor pools. Also based in the hotel is the Eco Chic spa for those much needed massages and beauty treatments after a day on the mountain, plus Summit Sports who will store your skis for free.

The ski lifts are a ten minute walk through the Village; however a stress free way of getting to the slopes is to use the hotel’s free shuttle bus (which seats 11). The driver is especially helpful and has the all the information on the best runs of the day.


Where to stay in Whistler - view from LegendsFor families who prefer peace and quiet, Legends at Creekside is a great alternative. Situated about a 5 minute drive from Whistler Village, it has a great location next to the Creekside gondola. Beginner’s ski lessons are available, at Creekside, however for teenage ski school and adult lessons, you will have to go to Whistler Village either by using the gondola to ski down to the village or by bus (the stop is next to the hotel).

Legends offer one, two and three bedroom suites which are more spacious and luxurious than the Delta Village Suites.  Storage is more ample but there is only one TV in the living area. Like the Delta, there is a gas fire, cupboard for ski gear, a washing machine and tumble dryer and a small kitchen area. The pull out sofa bed in the living area sleeps two people and is extremely comfortable. Some of the rooms have wonderful views overlooking the 2010 Olympic Mens Downhill Ski run but these can be noisy at dawn when the slopes are groomed and also at night due its close proximity to Dustys restaurant (which is very good!).

The hotel also has a heated outdoor pool, hot tubs, gym, children’s area, a film room and a BBQ for the use of guests, as well as individual lockers for your ski equipment.

If this has whet your appetite and you want to explore more options, check out

Meet the Oyster Worldwide reps: Razvan (Romania)

Meet the Oyster Worldwide reps: Razvan (Romania)


Razvan has run our Romania programmes since 2003, helping to set up and launch the childcare programme in early 2004 and the brown bear sanctuary in 2007. Razvan is a dedicated rep going above and beyond his job description. Not only does he help support the volunteers but he also organises wonderful trips (to Dracula’s castle and the Black Sea among others) while personally getting involved in the fundraising and awareness for the bear sanctuary (he has even been known to dress up as a brown bear on occasion)!

Razvan is a highly valued rep who always ensures volunteers have a happy and productive time in Romania!


Q1 How did you become an Oyster representative?

I met Roger in April 2003 when he was visiting Romania for the first time. After we had a traditional Romanian dinner at my parent’s house we agreed to start our collaboration. It didn’t take long and after we signed an agreement of collaboration with the Childcare Department from Brasov County, we found a suitable and comfortable place for the volunteers to stay, set up the placements and then we launched Romania projects! I had my very first group early January 2004, 8 lovely volunteers all very keen to help children from institutions in Brasov County. Knowing that working with children with behavior problems, learning difficulties, multiple disabilities could be very challenging we designed our projects for a period of three months in order to offer volunteers time to adapt and develop strong connections, experience a different culture and tradition and explore the country


Q2 What does your role involve?

My role as a representative is to support, guide and assist volunteers in every possible way in order for them to have a fantastic time and a great experience.


Q3 What are the highlights of being an Oyster representative?

Many highlights, but I will just enumerate a few of them! Meeting new people, working and spending time getting to know the volunteers, socializing and organizing trips around Europe and Romania…these are just a few highlights of my activity! All together, really being proud of the quality of the programmes that Oyster provides and the people I work with.


Q4 Why should people volunteer with bears?

Working with brown bears, preparing their food, monitor bears activity, helping with the tours and trying to educate tourists and raise awareness on animal rights and just take advantage of the fact that you are surrounded by bears in a magnificent place in the Carpathian Mountains…there’s no way you can be immune to all of this!


 Q5 Why should people volunteer with kids?

Oyster provides a wide range of childcare and medical projects in Romania from working in a children’s hospital, working with children with disabilities in orphanages and family homes and working in primary and secondary schools teaching English. Working with children is challenging but extremely rewarding. It’s fantastic to see children offering affection without asking anything in return. It’s a great opportunity to help, care and offer love for the most unprivileged children but also good if you want to learn some Romanian and generally have fun with the kids.


Q6 What changes do you see in the Oyster participants during their time in Romania?

It’s amazing to see how people get involved, get passionate and purely transform. They become more confident, increase their self-esteem and knowledge. I can easily say that I’ve seen volunteers much more confident with themselves and the others and I’ve seen people deciding their future studies and careers after volunteering in Romania. I can confirm that volunteering in Romania can change your mentality and the way you see the world forever.


Meet the Oyster Worldwide reps: Razvan (Romania)

To find out more about our childcare, bear sanctuary and medical programmes visit our webpages or contact Anne the destination manager on +44 (0) 1892 771975 or by email:

Thailand elephant park welcomes new arrival

Thailand elephant park welcomes new arrival!

Oyster Worldwide are delighted that another elephant has now been rescued to the park in Thailand. At 65 years of age, this female elephant will now finally have the chance to roam free and to enjoy life in the wild.

Jeam Sai was rescued from captivity by the daughter of the former Thai prime minister. She had been put to work carrying tourists, working long and gruelling hours each day not receiving the proper care needed for captive elephants.

The park was established in 1996 to care for such elephants as Jeam Sai. Home to over 30 elephants, here they can now live happy and natural lives. Volunteers work hard with the elephants to ensure that their welfare and care is of the highest quality. This includes preparing their food, feeding them, washing them in the river and even preparing the mud bath for them- essential to protect the elephants’ skin from burning!

Jeam Sai had a busy first day after being introduced to her elephant family, given a tour of her new safe haven where she walked straight to the river and enjoyed a bath, followed by a welcome ceremony!

We hope that she settles in nicely and enjoys the remainder of her life in peace being well looked after by our valued volunteers.

Thailand elephant park welcomes new arrival

Want to volunteer with the elephants in Thailand? Visit our webpage to find out more or speak to Anne the destination manager for this project by calling +44 (0) 1892 771975 or by email:



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