After experiencing the wonders of Shambhala Music Festival as an attendee and reading about another DMNW writer’s experience volunteering – I decided that volunteering on the Shambhala Crew for the festival’s 2023 edition was a way to give back to the festival that many, including myself, call home. Here’s my experience from the application process to working the actual volunteer shifts themselves. Shambhala Music Festival provides well-thought-out FAQs that fully explain many steps in the process.
The application process
The volunteer application was delightfully easy for me to fill out. Furthermore, the application asks what your top three team placements are, and I chose Environment, Shambhalodging, and Ticket Gate. Additionally, it’s interesting to note – once the application was submitted, I thought “Wait, how do I pay my volunteer deposit so its seen as a serious application?” Luckily, it was mentioned that if applicants had any questions they could reach out to the HR team. Without hesitation, I reached out and quite pleasantly, HR responded swiftly.
The gist of the response was reassuring, “Don’t worry, you’ll receive an email soon about paying your deposit,” and I was able to pay my deposit within an hour. Less than a week after my application, an email titled “Shambhala 2023 – Crew Interview Request” hit my inbox. The moment I opened the application and saw an Oprah GIF with a “Welcome to the team!,” any anxiety I felt about the status of my application immediately dissipated. In that moment, I felt unmatched excitement.
The next step was an interview for placement on the Shambhala Crew. The email provided a link to schedule my interview, which I ultimately scheduled for a month later (as that was the earliest date available). A month later, I joined the Environment team and received a really awesome schedule.
Let’s fast forward to the volunteer shifts themselves. I completed the check-in process at HR very swiftly, taking maybe about 15 minutes. That Thursday marked the start of my first volunteer shift, commencing with a tailgate meeting (a standard procedure for every team’s shift). During the meeting, they outlined various operational guidelines and safety instructions. They divided us into pairs: one individual to handle a trash bag, and another individual to wield a picker.
One interesting aspect was that while my partner and I were wandering downtown and collecting litter, attendees would gather small pieces of trash and inquire if they could place it in our bag for disposal. Another noteworthy observation was the high level of appreciation for the Environment team. Attendee comments varied from “We appreciate your efforts!” to “You’re the festival’s backbone; it couldn’t run without you!”
The initial person I teamed up with revealed his aspiration to return to school for obtaining his Electrician Red Seal – a certification process in Canada that showcases a significant mastery in one’s trade. Interestingly, the second individual I was matched with also expressed ambitions of attending post-secondary school to achieve certification as an electrician.
During the last couple of shifts, we concentrated on Post-Show cleanup. On Monday, once more, we divided into pairs to manage the aftermath, as attendees were starting to depart from the festival grounds. My Tuesday shift centered on the expansive fields themselves. In teams of two, a few of us strolled through the fields to ensure that attendees had an adequate supply of garbage and recycling bags. Walking back to Crew Camping after my shift, the Environment Crew’s efforts were highly visible.
All-in-all, my volunteer experience with Shambhala Music Festival was a great experience. I had the pleasure of meeting and making friends with many amazing people on the Shambhala Crew. Also, who could argue with access to free coffee (at any time!!) and a meal every shift?
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