We are a family of five with 88 Siberian huskies of all different ages, four Lapphunds and a Swedish elkhound. We live on a homestead in the wilderness, 50km north of the Arctic Circle in central Lapland. Our family's forefathers were some of the earliest pioneers who first settled here back in 1733. We do a lot of dog sledding, but we also go snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, ski-joring, snowshoe trekking and hiking in our forest, and fishing, rowing, canoeing, and windsurfing on our lakes.
We have been hosting workawayers for 10 years.
Before applying, please check out the latest advice regarding leisure travel to Finland at VisitFinland.com
We believe that one of the great benefits of any cultural exchange is gaining a more realistic understanding of the world, dispelling assumptions, generalizations and prejudices. The famous quote by naturalist Alexander von Humboldt sums this up quite well: “The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world.” So just chosing to travel here, or anywhere, may hopefully help to broaden your own worldview ;)
What you learn here will depend on how proactive, motivated and receptive you are, and of course, what time of year you travel. In addition to learning how to care for our huskies, you can also learn about the wilderness and the way the locals live up here, if you are keen to explore places nearby. Hopefully, you will learn how to dress properly for the arctic weather, and how to be sensible in our challenging conditions. Also, you will be living with people from different cultures and with different personalities, so we hope this will help develop your social skills.
And, we are a bi-lingual family, with both English and Finnish spoken at home. So, you can practice your English, and if you want a challenge, we can teach you some Finnish - one of the most difficult languages in the world!
We mostly need help in looking after our huskies, which includes training, exercising, grooming and feeding them, as well as cleaning and maintaining the kennel area. This involves taking dogs for walks/runs, brushing the dogs when they blow their coats, preparing their daily food (handling raw meat and bones), as well as clearing up the dogs' poop. Sometimes we go to dog shows and occasionally we have puppies that require extra attention and feeding.
In the spring, summer and autumn (May-September), we also need help in the garden and the forest: we grow some organic fruit, cut and chop our own firewood and clear or maintain forest paths. You can also help us when we go fishing in nearby lakes, hiking with the huskies, and picking wild berries and mushrooms in the autumn in our never-ending forest. We usually fix or make improvements in the kennel and garden area, and there is always some cleaning and tidying up to do, so help is needed here too. During this time we would like volunteers to stay for one to three months.
In October and November, once the weather has cooled enough, we need help with training the dogs in preparation for winter sledding. Then throughout the winter and into spring, (November-April), we need extra help with training and conditioning the dogs that will be participating in sled-dog races, in addition to the normal kennel routine. To do this you will need to learn how to drive dog sleds and snowmobiles. And even though we arrange a variety of activities for guests staying in our log cabins, you will not be needed to help any paying guests. During this time we prefer to have volunteers here for three months, starting either in October or January.
The accommodation for our volunteers is in our hundred year old lumberjack's cabin (picture below), which has been equipped with normal modern conveniences and is located next door to our own house.
In the cabin there are 3 pairs of bunk beds; one in a separate bedroom, another in an alcove off the living room, and the third in the living room area. There is also a small kitchen area, tables, sofa, fireplace and TV, WiFi and a washroom with wc, shower and washing machine. The cabin is electrically heated and has running hot and cold water. There is a separate sauna by the lake. All our accommodation is non-smoking. Usually we have 2-4 volunteers and we allocate placements so that they are either all male, all female, or for a couple.
Recuperating or injured huskies sometimes live with you in the cabin, and any of the huskies can "stay over" whenever there's room. Unfortunately we cannot accommodate your own pets because of this.
We normally eat weekday lunches together and for other meals food is provided for you to prepare according to your own timetable. We do not provide food for special dietary requirements such as vegan, halal or kosher.
Our dogs are lively, happy and strong individuals that require confident handling, personal attention and lots of TLC (tender loving care)! It is physically demanding and can be in unpleasant or extreme weather conditions, so you should be healthy, as well as have a strong back and a good level of strength and fitness . You must also not mind getting dirty. However, we are not looking for wannabe survival experts, even though you will learn some of those skills in winter by default. Hours will vary and during quieter times we usually keep to an average of five hours per day.
In your free time you can explore the area and get to know our tiny village community. In addition to what is available here, there are many other summer and winter sports available in nearby resorts, and travelling around the region is quite easy, e.g. the nearest resort and national park is about an hour away. And although we live in a very sparsely populated area, there is a good range of shops and other services, as well as concerts, galleries, museums and tourist attractions in our nearest town, also an hour away by bus.
The compensation for our remoteness, however, is that we are situated by a beautiful little lake surrounded by the largest wilderness forest in the world - the taiga. If you like walking, reading, writing, painting, photography, etc. or need to study, or just gaze at the scenery, there is usually time for all that too. And if you're lucky, when the sky is clear in the autumn and throughout winter, you can go out into the garden and watch the northern lights - the aurora borealis - dance through the night.
We live in the land of the midnight sun and the polar night: we have 24hrs of sunlight around mid-summer and 24hrs with no sunlight around mid-winter. We can also have some extreme temperatures: in 1999 the temperature ranged from -53C in February to +32C just four months later in June! In general though, winters range from a mild -5C to a cold -30C and summers range between hot and dry at +30C and cold and rainy at +5C, but mostly just warm and humid at +15C, with plenty of mosquitos!
We have many applicants for a very limited number of places. If our calendar is full and you are flexible with travel dates, please consider being on our waiting list for places which become available at short notice. And please be patient when waiting for a reply - we try to answer all enquiries, but we are sometimes out and about for many days so we don't have time to answer enquiries immediately. If we do have a place available, we'll ask you to send a CV and references, for safety reasons.
So, please only apply if you are highly motivated, have a positive nature and lots of energy, and are genuinely interested in dogs and the North. We expect our volunteers to be helpful and flexible in our sometimes difficult Arctic conditions, and really eager to participate wholeheartedly in all of our activities. We will be happy to teach you about huskies, the culture, lifestyles and traditions of Lapland and the wonders of the Arctic wilderness, and aim for a workaway experience which will be mutually rewarding :)
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
More than two
On average 5 hrs/day, 5 days/week
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