You are about to discover a new culture, accomplish something unforgettable, and explore what USA has to offer!
You can become involved in youth development projects on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. You have the opportunity to contribute to activities at a youth centre to help create a viable future for the youth of the Lakota tribe. While sharing your knowledge and compassion you will gain an in-depth experience of the Lakota people and their culture that will stay with you the rest of your life.
I recommend the GVN partner organisation in South Dakota without hesitation. The kids are neat. They are vibrant and fun. The staff are helpful and committed. The activities here are many and varied but ultimately all made enjoyable by the energy and appreciation the children show.
Andrew | South Dakota Volunteer
Staff at GVN's partner organisation was absolutely wonderful! Very helpful, very friendly, very interested in what was going on with the volunteers. Just be flexible and open-minded; This was the best experience I've ever had and I think it can be that way for everyone if they have the right attitude!
Kaitlin | South Dakota Volunteer
Just Choose a Project and Apply!
The program fee covers all food and accommodation for the duration of the volunteering time. Volunteers are housed at either the youth or teen the centre in dormitory-style accommodation. There are currently 2 volunteer quarters which house 8 people each. Weekly food allowance cheques of US$50 will be issued to each volunteer, whereby the volunteer can purchase their own food at the local grocery store. In addition, the centre prepares meals for the children which volunteers can also share.
Generally, volunteers have Sundays off, but volunteers must be flexible about their work hours and days off as special events and staff/volunteer shortages occasionally require volunteers to work extra hours and/or days. Volunteers are free to do as they please on their days off and after their volunteer duties are done for the day. We encourage volunteers to see as much of the country as possible since there is a lot to see and do.
South Dakota Program
Are you fascinated by native American culture? Do you want to learn more? Volunteers in our South Dakota program will work inside a reservation with children aged from 4 to 18 years old from . During the school term the youth centre is open in the afternoons and during the summer holidays it is open all day. There is no typical day at the centre and activities will vary according to the time of the year and how many children are at the centre. Activities include: Library time, arts and crafts, helping with homework, working in the organic garden, outdoor games, serving meals, fundraising drives within the community, helping with general upkeep of the centre. In addition, volunteers with particular skills, for example language or sporting skills, will be encouraged to implement their own programs with the children. Mornings will often involve some administration and maintenance duties. Volunteers in this program should be aware that days are often long and strenuous - you may be required to work up to 12 hours and at time the work is physically demanding.
Our vision is to connect people with communities in need, with a particular focus on vulnerable women and children. We do this by supporting the work of local community organizations in countries through the placement of international volunteers.
We are excited to get your placement under way where you will:
Be a part of GVN's efforts to inspire learning, innovation and action to unlock the potential of vulnerable communities around the world. Work with exceptional grassroots projects in community development, conservation and wildlife, personal development, fundraising and physical challenges.
Have the 24/7 support of a non profit with 12 years experience in placing 19547 volunteers that will provide you with an affordable and rewarding placement.
Volunteer with a world-class organization which is recommended by Bill Gates and CNN.
Be a part of progressive non profit that has raised over $2 million to help women and children in need.
Have the comfort of knowing that GVN staff have collectively flown over 1 million miles to ensure you get a quality placement.
Make a long-term impact in your community of choice - it's not just a vacation.
How GVN works...
The first step is to fill out an application to see if we have a place for you. Then if your application is successful you will be accepted and we will then get to work organizing your placement.
GVN is a registered Charitable Trust, so volunteers finance themselves, or can fundraise online with our unique GVN platform, with US donors receiving tax receipts. The Program Package provides you with all that is listed below, along with personalized support from our expert staff and the knowledge that you'll be working with a reputable and registered charity with over 12 years experience in the field.
At the heart of our work is the communities our volunteers work to support - we ensure that these communities truly benefit from your time in South Dakota and that the Program Package fully supports you financially while you're volunteering.
The Program Package also includes a project donation, which supports the work the GVN Foundation does in addressing nutrition, education and healthcare needs, as well as supporting longer-term development approaches, including income generation activities and microfinance.
Your program package includes:
Personal support from your Program Specialist throughout the preparation process.
Your Program Guide, with all the details on South Dakota and your placement.
Fundraising strategies and access to our crowd funding platform where you can raise up to 100% of the cost your trip, with tax receipts for your US based donors.
Access to Your Own Online Journal: which helps you to communicate effectively and easily with your family and friends back home.
Opportunities for Preferred Pricing and Personalized Service when booking Airfares: through our travel partner GYT Flight Centre who go the extra mile to support GVN volunteers.
Accommodation: Volunteer House.
Meals: Weekly Food Allowance (US$50/week for anyone who secured their spot in the program after June 1 2013 and US$20/week for anyone who secured their place before this date).
Airport pickup: On arrival date.
Training: In-country orientation and training.
Supervision: In-country staff supervision.
Support: Pre-departure personal support from your volunteer coordinator, 24/7 in-country support from partner, and 24hr emergency line.
An opportunity to debrief and provide feedback
Free access to GVN Changemakers program which alerts you to future internship/job opportunities at GVN.
A Letter of Completion in Volunteer Service.
The opportunity to stay connected with your project.
Global advocacy and fundraising campaigns to continue your part of the movement for social change with an international non-profit that has granted over $2 million to our partner organizations.
The program package does not include: Flights, insurance, visas, vaccinations, departure from the program, airport departure tax.
We recommend you allow a weekly budget of US $25 for your other expenses such as bottled water, personal items, beverages, transportation and entertainment.
Your Program Package
Calculate the price of your individualised program package. Details on longer placements may be available on request.
Select A Project
Then: Select A Length
Your Program Package
For those securing far enough in advance, there is a possible US$300 discount. Confirming your placement early on allows us and our partner communities the ability to plan in advance with confidence in terms of volunteer numbers and funding for the months ahead.
Tell me more about the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation?
The Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation is located in the state of South Dakota in the United States of America. There are 9 Indian Reservations in South Dakota, of which Cheyenne River is the largest. The reservation was established by the Sioux Agreement Act of March 2, 1889, which divided the Great Sioux Reservation into five smaller reservations. Its boundaries include roughly 2.5 million acres of rolling prairie lands (about the size of Northern Ireland). The reservation has six representative districts and the district councils have an advisory role in tribal government. There are 17 communities outside of Eagle Butte, such as Cherry Creek, Red Scaffold, White Horse, Black Foot and Swift Bird.
Tell me more about the partner organisation?
The youth centre was founded in January 1988 in response to the community’s need for more services that support struggling children and their families. It was initially operated completely by volunteer staff and quickly became a vital element of the Cheyenne River Community. The organisation currently boasts two youth facilities, the Main Youth Centre for ages 4-12, and a teen centre. The youth centre is 4,560 sq. ft. facility provides an activity room, library, commercial grade kitchen, small computer lab, office space and volunteer quarters. The teen centre is a 26,000 sq. ft. Facility that includes an internet cafe, library, art studio, dance studio, full-seized gymnasium, commercial grade kitchen, a gift shop, office space, and volunteer quarters. In addition to the two facilities, the partner maintains a 2 ½ acre organic fruit and vegetable garden, and provides a Family Services program to the community.
What type of volunteer work is available?
Volunteers will be working full-time with the children and teens at the centre on a variety of activities such as mentoring, playing sports, arts and crafts, providing educational activities, working in the organic garden, serving meals and helping with homework. Volunteers will also help with the general maintenance and upkeep of the centre and will assist with office work. Volunteers with specific skills will be encouraged to implement their own programs with the children.
What age do you have to be to volunteer in this program?
Volunteers must be 18 or older to participate in this program.
When will I know specific details on the placement?
After you have joined the program, you will be sent the program guide with more details about the program and your Program Specialist will begin making arrangements for your placement. Once you’ve confirmed your placement, you’ll be put in touch with our partner organization.
What language do I need to know to participate in the program?
Volunteers need to be native speakers or fluent in English in order to participate in this program.
When do I need to arrive at the reservation?
Volunteers can arrive on the first or third Monday of each month and the program runs year-round.
What are the living arrangements when volunteering?
Volunteers are housed at either the youth or the teen centre in dormitory-style accommodation. There are currently 2 volunteer quarters which house 8 people each.
How do I get to the project?
Volunteers fly into Pierre Airport, South Dakota and are picked up by our partner. If you arrive late in the day you will need to stay one night in Pierre before heading out to the reservation, as it is located 90 miles away.
How many volunteers are there on the site at the same time?
The centre can accommodate a maximum of 16 volunteers at any one time - however this number will fluctuate throughout the year.
What hours am I expected to take part in the program?
Due to the varied schedule of the centre, daily hours will fluctuate according to time of year. However on average, volunteers work around 9-10 hours per day, 6 days a week. Volunteers will generally have Sunday off, however volunteers must remain flexible with their work hours and days off as special events and staff shortages can necessitate altered schedules and additional work.
Are we able to do any sight-seeing?
Volunteers can travel during their days off. For extended travel volunteers may be able to arrange to take a few days off as long as the staff agree, and the request does not impede the function of the youth and teen centres.
What is the course content of the training?
On arrival volunteers have one day of orientation which includes: a discussion with the staff on the expectations of volunteers, the work schedule, and code of conduct; a tour of the centre’s facilities, a tour of the town and its major attractions. After this the new volunteer will shadow another volunteer for about a week before they are asked to take on more responsibility. On-going training in various areas like health, nutrition, and first-aid are also provided.
Are there any more expenses once I arrive?
All accommodation is provided for in your in-country fee and weekly food allowance cheques of US$50 will be issued. You will also need to cater for travelling money and personal spending money for your time on the program.
[Those who secured their placement before 1st June 2013 will be issued with a weekly food allowance cheque of US$20.]
How do I pay my fees?
Your program fee is payable to Global Volunteer Network 10 weeks prior to the 1st of the month you wish to volunteer. Please note, your placement is not confirmed (ie secured) until your program fee has been received. Please note that all charges incurred by the payment of the program fee are at the volunteer’s expense, e.g. if a bank transfer incurs a bank fee at the point of origin, that is at the expense of the volunteer. Seventy percent (70%) of the program fee is refundable until two calendar months before the 1st of the month you are due to begin your program. For example a volunteer with 15 July 2012 as their start date would need to submit their refund request form by the last day of April 2012 to be eligible for a refund. Refer to GVN's legal terms of service for full details.
Do I need an entry visa (and how do I obtain this)?
If you are from a country which has a Visa Waiver Agreement with the United States you will not need a visa to stay for up to 90 days. If you need to obtain a visa you will need to contact your nearest American Embassy. Please note that if you require a visa this must be arranged independently of GVN and the partner organisation.
Do I need travel insurance?
All GVN Volunteers must have insurance. If you are a volunteer from the US your health insurance should cover you for injury or sickness, however you will need cover for volunteering and travel, so please check your policy. You are free to take out insurance cover through any provider of your choice. However, as some policies do not cover volunteering, we recommend you check you are covered during your volunteer placement.
For your convenience we have arranged a comprehensive package specially designed for volunteering. It includes excellent medical and accident coverage as well as “loss of deposits” cover which covers fees paid to GVN, airlines etc. If you would like to learn more just follow this link: http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/insurance/
Is there any time of year when I can’t volunteer?
No; the program runs all year round.
What is the climate like in South Dakota?
The Cheyenne River Reservation has a cold-temperate climate, with typically harsh winters and hot summers. Temperatures in the summer are usually between 80 and 95 degrees F (27 - 35 degrees C). In the winter the temperature can fall below 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C). Spring and fall are both quite mild with temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees F (10 and 21 degrees C). Cheyenne River receives very little rainfall and is usually quite sunny throughout the year.
Can I bring my family/children to this program with me?
This will be considered on a case-by-case basis; however the program is not suitable for families with very young children.
Can groups participate in this program?
Yes, the program can cater for groups. In this case the minimum time commitment would be two weeks and the program fee would be reduced. If you would like to volunteer as a group please contact us.
How does GVN choose volunteers for this program?
Each GVN program has different criteria depending on our partner's requirements. Every application is reviewed to ensure that the minimum requirements (as set out on the program page) are met. Next we look to see what skills or experience you have that relate specifically to the program. We are also interested in any previous volunteer experience you may have (either local or international), travel experience, and your particular interest in the program.
After reviewing your application, should we require any further information from you, we will email you to request this.
Do I have to be from New Zealand to volunteer through the Global Volunteer Network?
No, volunteers come from all around the world.
Can vegetarians be catered for in this program?
Indeed, vegetarians are welcomed and catered for as long as you indicate this on your application form.
Will I need a police check?
United States law requires that any volunteer working with young and vulnerable people carry an original police check with them to the reserve, a copy of which will need to be sent to the GVN office before departure. Please note this is something which the volunteer will have to independently arrange, and can take some time to process depending on where you live.
Can I drink alcohol in the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation?
The Cheyenne River Youth Project has a zero tolerance policy on alcohol consumption and illegal drug use. While volunteering you will be living in a very small community, with a high rate of alcoholism and in order to maintain the trust of the parents and community as a whole, all volunteers must commit to abstain from alcohol and drug consumption during their time there. This includes time off, weekends, and travelling.
South Dakota is located in the Midwest of the United States. It is bordered, clockwise, by North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana. Named after the Sioux American Indian Tribes, the Lakota and the Dakota, South Dakota encompasses nine Indian Reservations within its borders, of which Cheyenne River is the largest.
The landscape of South Dakota is largely defined by prairies with tall grass and gently rolling hills. Its most famous landmark is Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills region of the state.
Development in South Dakota
The Cheyenne River Reservation is located in two of the five poorest counties in the U.S. Plagued by high unemployment rates (about 70%), the majority of households live at or below poverty level. The economy is largely tied to agriculture, mainly ranching and farming. While there are also several small commercial businesses (restaurant, hairdresser, convenience store, etc.), the two largest employers are the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Unlike many other Native American reservations in the U.S., Cheyenne River does not operate any casinos on their land, fearing a rise in alcohol and gambling addictions.
Housing on the Cheyenne River Reservation tends to be substandard and often accommodates extended families. While the national overcrowding rate in the U.S. is only 5.9%, overcrowding on the reservations can be as high as 27%.
Volunteers provide assistance to disadvantaged Lakota youth, focusing primarily children and families living on the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation.
As a volunteer in South Dakota you can provide love, affection, education and support to youth of the Lakota tribe. You will help to improve education and skills ensuring that they learn and flourish. As a volunteer you can contribute to administration and fundraising to benefit the functioning youth centre. You will also provide education, inter-cultural exchange and understanding in a South Dakota community.
What else can I do in South Dakota?
Volunteers are recommended to plan their sightseeing before or after their program dates.
South Dakota's most famous landmark is Mount Rushmore, with its' sculpture carved into the granite face featuring the heads of former United States presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.