It’s summer and the beach beckons but sunburns and sand aren’t in everyone’s future or budget. An alternative to the traditional holiday package exists – if restoring a Baroque monument, working a tea festival in the Czech-Polish mountains, or pitching a tipi in a forest outside of Prague are your idea of relaxing, read on.
Tamjdem, Czech for “Go There,” is a non-profit supported by the Czech Ministry of the Interior, that connects burned-out commuters with not only an escape from the daily grind, but full immersion in Czech culture via volunteer excursions.
“We get a lot of people who are maybe a little tired from office work as well as from ordinary ways of spending holidays and want to be part of something meaningful while relaxing and getting to know the Czech Republic and its culture better,” says director Markéta Votavová.
Launched in 2007 as a series of weekend expeditions designed to assist Czech non-profit organizations, Tamjdem was founded by Štěpán Zelinger, an activist who was inspired by his own voluntary service in France.
This summer, four different workcamps are being offered. Among them, the chance to help renovate Wallenstein’s Loggia, a forgotten Baroque monument near Jičín, or spend 14-days helping build a straw theatre in Neratov, near the Polish border.
English-friendly trips last from 8-9 days and each session can accomodate up to ten volunteers. “We seem to get a range of people of different ages, professions, life paths…yet always with similar values,” says Votavová.
Don’t expect an Insta-ready week of glamping, says Votavová: “You do about approximately 6 hours of manual work per day. Afternoons are free for sightseeing and relaxation.”
Applications are also being accepted for upcoming weekend camps one of which includes plastering a hut in the pre-historic settlement of Křivolík near Česká Třebová.
While food and lodging are taken care of (you are expected to help with cooking and cleaning in exchange for room and board) campers must cover their own transportation to the site and pay a small participation fee.
“We believe this kind of travel provide is an opportunity to get to know yourself, your neighbors, new cultures, interesting places in the Czech Republic and other countries,” says Votavová.
Trips are available from June-August; groups depart regularly from Prague’s Hlavní nádraží.