Columbia River Gorge

Oregon USA

Words From Volunteers

Deux jours après mon arrivée à Huanchaco, dans l’ONG Otra Cosa Network, j’ai rencontré ma future équipe de travail: Bryan & Quique (pour les intimes) avec qui j’allais donner des cours de natation à des enfants incroyables (et je ne pèse pas mes mots) ! Des enfants toujours motivés, qui veulent apprendre, remplis d’énergie et tellement attachants.

Chloé Joseph (Belgium), Intern

The children were so happy to see us each morning when we arrived to take them to the ocean (yes, the ocean). They were grateful that someone would give up their time to take them to the beach and teach them how to swim.

Fiona Weir (Scotland), Swimming Teacher

In Huanchaco, many of the children in the poorer areas come from migrant families, originally from the highlands, where not many people know how to swim. What SwimTayka is doing is amazing, and it really changes the children’s relationship to the ocean and boosts their self confidence!

Beata Gullberg (Sweden), NGO Peru

¡Una experiencia fantástica y tan gratificante

Quique Landa Cuba (Peru), Student


The Columbia River Gorge is one of the most picturesques regions of the United States, steep hills of temperate rainforest, rolling farmland, and basalt columnar cliffs are cut through by the mighty Columbia River. It is a favorite recreation spot for hikers, windsurfers and kiteboarders, as well as elite triathletes and cyclists.  A region known for its salmon fishing and orchard bounty, the Gorge is also ancestral lands to at least four Native American Tribes as well as a well-traveled route for seasonal and migrant farmworkers.

Teaching Life Skills

SwimTayka partners with local community organizations to provide free swimming lessons and environmental education in water stewardship to underserved children who live along oceans, rivers and lakes.  In our Columbia River Gorge 2017 project, SwimTayka partners with local host organizations St. Francis House in Odell, OR and Columbia Riverkeeper in Hood River, OR to provide two, one-day “Drowning Prevention - Water Stewardship” workshops for youth participants in the St Francis House summer camp.  Campers are between the ages of 7 - 14 and are mostly children of migrant farmworkers who live in Odell and work in the Gorge orchard industry.


participants will learn:

  • Basic water safety skills such as how to assess the safety of a swimming area, treading water, bobbing for air, and basic stroke techniques
  • Basic lifesaving techniques such as identifying a drowning incident, basic water removal techniques, and calling for emergency assistance
  • Basic river ecosystem education, including water quality considerations, urban and rural development impacts on aquatic health
  • Water quality testing for e coli and other contaminants


  • 2, 1- day Drowning Prevention - Water Stewardship workshops
  • Workshop locations at Hood River Beach and/or Laurance Lake
  • Youth participants are ages 7 - 14
  • Some Spanish language skills are helpful
  • Host organizations are Columbia Riverkeeper and St. Francis House
  • BYOS (bring your own swimgear)


July 17,2017 and August 7, 2017

Deadline to apply

June 21, 2017


  • Volunteers must be at least 18 years old at the start of the program
  • Must have lifeguard and/or swim instructor certification and experience teaching or working with children
  • Must complete a criminal background check and be cleared to work with children.
  • A valid driver’s license is helpful but not required
  • Familiarity with environmental education and water stewardship principles are a big plus
  • Flexibility in working with people, a sense of humor, and a love of the outdoors
  • Volunteers are strongly encouraged to carry individual liability insurance (umbrella policy, general liability, etc) as a just-in-case measure. Please check out Allstate, Allianz, State Farm or other carriers for policy estimates.


The volunteer fee for this project is USD $150 per volunteer.  We also encourage volunteers to conduct their own fundraising efforts to help us reach our overall Project Fundraising Goal of USD $7,500 - $10,000.  In addition to donations of cash, we will heartily accept donations of swimming equipment (swim suits, goggles, wetsuits, foam noodles, sunscreen, etc).

Accommodations in the Columbia River Gorge are varied and plentiful, ranging from couch-surfing and tent-camping, to 4-star boutique hotels.  We may offer recommendations for places to stay but volunteers are generally responsible for their own accommodation.  Please check out and for examples of available options.


New volunteers download the application form below

Returning volunteers, please follow the same application procedure and include an updated resume. We will use your recommendation letters already on file. Please include a letter on why you would like to return and what you hope to achieve during the program.


Thank you


We look forward to working with you in the Columbia River Gorge!