Because I have not been able to find the right job yet, I decided to help the Rio-Lipno Olympic Park as a volunteer. My expectations were high, because I wanted to get new contacts, friends and experience. But how did it all end up? Has my expectations been met or not?
How to get to the Olympic Park as a volunteer
At the official Olympic Park site, I filled in an application that required basic information about my person, including a Facebook social network account, knowledge of foreign languages, and also what sports I am willing to work with and what experience I have with them. The questionnaire was really exhausting.
The conditions stated that the minimum registration age is 17 years and that they prefer applicants who can spend the whole time in the park (18 days), half of the time (9 days) or 3 weekends. I did not want either one option because I did not register this option until the park was in full swing, so I did not get the first turn, and my father was 50 years old celebration. I have agreed that I will arrive on Monday, August 15, 2016, not on Saturday, August 13, as stated in the terms. Finally I found out that they were really happy when people were there to help them at least for a few days.
The first step that followed the questionnaire on the site was to ask an official volunteer group on Facebook to add to the group, since communication should take place in this form. The post for the new volunteers was put in, I responded to it, but it was not answered. Meanwhile, I got an email with exactly the same question, so I answered him too. But before it was answered, a private Facebook message came from the organizer, so I wrote the same for the third time.
After that, all communication was in the form of an electronic mail where we agreed when I would come and where I would sleep. At the same time, the organizer wanted to send me a photo for accreditation. But if you do not have it, they will shoot you there. All the talks ended without answering my last e-mail.
Departure and trip to the Rio-Lipno Olympic Park
I embraced my embarrassment and with a previously booked ticket from Regiojet I went to Prague by night train at 3:31. I had a lot things and unfortunately the way was also by the metro as the connecting bus to Český Krumlov left from Na Knížecí bus station, not from the Main Railway Station.
We stopped in Český Krumlov at the bus station, from which I had to take a bus to Lipno nad Vltavou in an hour. But I found out that a special Rio-Lipno bus should take people from from Český Krumlov. But somewhere there was a mistake because the bus did not come. A mother with her daughter, who decided to take her own car to Černá v Pošumaví, was waiting for him at a parking lot and from there only to go by bus to the park. She was so nice that she took me and then borrowed me a yellow ribbon free of charge because I had not yet proved that I was a volunteer.
Arrival to the Rio-Lipno Olympic Park
The bus stopped in front of the gate of the Olympic Park at 1pm, so I leaned to the security guard at the doorway and asked where to go. He sent me to the building right next to the entrance – the accreditation center. They did not even greet me here, and all that the miss wanted to see was my ID. Something clicked on, then she showed me a piece of paper with a phone number and told me to call and say that I am here.
My cell phone was almost discharged, and I do not understand why I should take the cost of it when they have corporate phones, but I did not let myself spoil my mood.
Formalities upon arrival
In a moment, one of the volunteers came to me, but obviously he did not want to have much fun, so I followed silently his steps. After a while, we were in a volunteer tent, where I announced my name, accreditation and signing agreement. Since the other party was not a verified authority, I decided to read the contract. What we do, we should do it always, but sometimes we just do not do it. Obviously, I was the first who read the contract. And it was just two sides, because there was a paragraph with which I did not agree and none of the organizers was able to explain what the paragraph meant and why it was there.
This was because I signed a contract to confirm that I had an insurance in case I would hurt someone. Of course, I do not have this insurance. When I warned them, they said it was not possible that it was strange and they handed it like a hot potato. They claimed that the organizing company was insured for these cases. It is a question of where it is true.
Accommodation of volunteers
In order to make the inconvenience very little, I was told that I was going to be staying in one of the big green Husky tents and then reporting at the reception of the Modřín camp. But I was talking about staying in the gym because week before it was not very nice weather and it was all cold in the tents. When I told my objection, I was told that there was no room in the gym.
The wording in one of the tents also did not sound too convincing, so there followed another series of my questions like “Do I have to come here and sneak into someone?” An angry answer was waiting for me: “Yeah.” That’s something for me. My strength has already been scarred, so I obediently went to the camp. On the way, I thought I was in the wrong direction because the camp was in a different direction. But I gave my orientative sense and paid off.
By exhaustion I tossed all the things on the lawn and began to bypass the tents. The guys playing football were strangely looking at me so I’d rather have it and go to bite my food. On that occasion, I dug in the tents and noticed that they had openable windows from the outside, so I did not have to go to the tent anymore, but only look out from the outside.
My biggest fear was that none would be completely free, because I was uncomfortable with moving to someone else. But my wish came true and I found one without a resident.
Later, I met the people in the gym, who told me that the gym was empty, which made me angry because I was freezing every day in my tent even though I had a dozen layers.
First steps in the role of a volunteer
After settling into a tent and reporting at a camp where I had never slept in my life, I went back to the volunteer tent to find out what was waiting for me. I handed over the document they gave me at the camp, but they looked as if they were falling from Mars. They say he has not met anyone yet. Interestingly. There are over 400 volunteers in the Facebook group, but they have just given me a check-in card at the camp …
There were volunteer clothes in the volunteer tent (jacket, sweatshirt, 2 T-shirts and a cap), a key from a mini box for valuable items, and they told me that I should go through the Rio-Lipno Olympic Park, because they have nothing else for me now. I welcomed this message because I was very tired. But on the other hand, I waited for some information about what and how it was going.
The park was all over, but there were huge queues everywhere, so I did not try anything, because I’d have to wait there all afternoon.
When I returned to the volunteer tent, I saw that they were inventing volunteer clothes and finding women’s size S jackets. I just wondered if they would change it because they gave me a man’s. Again I was lucky. The last women’s jacket in size S was available. But I must say that everything was big for me, because my size is XS.
In the evening, they brought food in boxes for each volunteer. But I did not even know if I could take it anymore or not because nobody told me anything about organizational matters. Later, I learned that I had to write a meal on one piece of paper hanging on the locker. It was possible to choose from two meals, but the variety of food was absolutely zero.
Every volunteer is entitled to breakfast, lunch and dinner free of charge. But if you have a place in the backpack, take your supplies because this food was completely inaccessible. I’m pretty alert, but I met people who claimed to eat anything, but that was really too much. It does not matter whether a person is a vegetarian, a celibate or a diabetic. Unfortunately, it also happened that there was no food left or just another one not ordered.
All the time I ate only one lunch and one dinner. I usually threw the others. The only edible breakfast was, but in more than 60% it was a sweet breakfast in the form of butter – jam or butter – honey. Which I also do not eat, so I was only on a roll with butter.
From the security service, I found out that they were paying for CZK 220 per day per person for these gastronomic services! It would be better if the local restaurant had arranged the menu than to import the food just for cattle. That’s what the supplier has already exchanged. I do not even want to know what food our predecessors had last week.
Organization of volunteer work
At dinner, we were told we should report for the next day’s sports. At that moment, I’ve been having fun with two girls that have just arrived, so we announced together to give out brochures and help with the organization.
Every evening, therefore, all volunteers should report activity. Interestingly, although I came first or last, there were always only annoying activities that no one was interested in.
I demanded water activities. But I was told that they don’t care about water activities. But I knew they care about it because their friends wrote to it the day before. So the next lesson is that if you do not have friends in the organizing team, do not count on doing good activities.
Hygiene was another very discussed subject, as volunteers in tents had not had much choice how to maintain hygiene. The reason was that the showers were paying separately. In practice, it works by taking a card for a certain number of showers at the reception desk. When showering, he or she must release the shower with a charged card and shower until the water runs out. It was not very good, because I had to get all the way out of the shower to the device and put a card on the card reader for a further interval. Moreover, the temperature of the water was not coordinated, and cold water flowed for much of the time, so showering was really a punishment.
It was so bad at the Modřín camp, because the organizing committee had only 5 cards to charge and you have to give it to other people. Nobody, of course, knew who has the card, so every evening we followed an inexorable search for a cardholder.
When I met the other lady who had been there and was coming again, I found it convenient to take a shower in the hotel next to the volunteer tent reserved for the high-ranking people. No cards, no cold water, no people, no dirt. I noticed the shower but I did not have the courage to go, but now I know I should risk it.
The work of the volunteer itself
After breakfast, everyone scattered to their habitats, which could be in operation from different times. Mostly from 10am, but it could have been a bit earlier. I spent my stay distributing leaflets, orienteering, modern pentathlon, aerobics, marathon and long slides.
For some sports, we had a lunch break in which we jumped for lunch or try something. For others, the food was imported to us and we were glad to eat in 5 minutes. I survived on rolls of butter from breakfast.
Our work responsibilities in most cases ended at 6pm, but it could end up later or sooner.
Time for fun
There was no time for us to try out some sports or attractions at all. Chance was just when we had a lunch break. But we did not have much opportunity to do something because they did not give us a priority. We had to stay like everyone else, even though we worked here for free.
Another option was when there was a lot of us on the site and we agreed that it would take one for another. This option was only possible in one case because the lady did not check us out and there were four people.
Those who wanted to enjoy the fun had only time left at the campfire, which was organized by camp volunteers every other day.
Once, for us, the organizers arranged a jump from the tower and the Lipno Treetop Walkway, but that was all of the mass activities.
But I noticed that not all volunteers took their work as carefully as I did. Many people walked around in the park and enjoyed the day after the park. Or someone did not come to the habit, because they felt bad from the evening booze, etc. If it was not guarded by the organizers, then why not use it.
Thanks to volunteers
The official thank-you to volunteers that many people thought would be just rags on the ground that could do nothing but hops of their laziness took place on Saturday night on the main stage. But again I did not like it, because 99% of the thanks went to the organizers who were paid for it, and it was just that we climbed the stage, photographed and went away. Then there was an official photographing of the Rio-Lipno Olympic Park – a character Emil Zátopek added to each of his signatures.
In the end, waiting for us in the volunteer tent. Within a moment, everything was gone, even though they said it would be replenished. But the time I spent there did not.
There is a lot of things here because I know that much could be done much better. The only good news was that a bus should be driving on Monday, which volunteers would take to Prague free of charge. I was excited and took it as a tattoo. But on Saturday, there was a post on Facebook that does not suit anyone, so the bus will leave on Sunday at 10pm. This was the last drop to fall into my bar of patience!
We should leave the camp on Sunday morning and check out at the reception. I just remembered when I was on my way. With all the things I did not want to come back, I put everything in a volunteer tent and came back. At the camp reception I found out that I did not have to sign out. Maybe they did it centrally, but they did not say it to anyone, so I went through a few-kilometer route unnecessarily.
On Sunday, a marathon took place, symbolically starting at the marathon launch in Rio de Janeiro. The organizers begged for the volunteers to stay up until evening, but most people left in the morning, so there was a couple left to secure the park and the marathon.
After cleaning the marathon, I returned to the volunteer tent and continued the cleaning work. Everything was totally disposed of, and what no one wanted, was thrown away. There was a knot of it because I hate to waste such a waste. But unfortunately I did not have the capacity to take things home.
Finally, we were waiting for the bus as the stakes in the fence. It was ten of us, and the worst of all was that so much was written to us on that Monday bus, so I was headed, “Who did not really like that Monday’s departure?”
With the driver, I agreed to throw me at the Main Railway Station, which made me feel a little more relaxed because I do not know how to travel from Florence to the Main Station at night. Unfortunately, the driver was so confused that he was still stressing me that he would not stop at the station. Fortunately, it happened and I was not alone on the train. One more girl also waited to train. But there was a surprise at the entrance, as the train station opened at 3:15 and it was about an hour.
As homeless, we sat down at the entrance and waited for the opening. Over time, a lot of people started to walk, and not all of this situation with the closed station stopped silently. My train was driving at 5:46, so it was really a long night. Because of all the individuals at the station, I could not keep my eyes off my things.
The experience was good, but I do not know if I want it again. I did not like the organization at all, from A to Z. The people who were with me in the main park were mostly younger and their only goal was to drink alcohol, and the others had their group of friends and did not want to let someone else go.
Maybe I just found a bad group of people, because in Frymburk there were obviously people I would have been better with because they shared my lifestyle – they were going to sports and they were at my age.
I was quite surprised how many mistakes I found on any posters or boards … It’s a terrible disgrace! And the worst thing about it is that none of the bugs has been fixed for my entire stay. Are we so indifferent?
Those who would be tempted to learn foreign languages do not have to worry, for I have not used English for all the time. And the complete filing of the questionnaire was completely unnecessary, as nothing was done. Even the minimum age was not respected, as there were a million young children. How they helped children, I’d rather not talk. Some mothers took it as a holiday for their children.
I am also very sorry that this action has produced thousands of tonnes of waste just because of poor management in this area. And the icing on the cake was that there were yellow and blue dustbins in the park, but dark-skinned technicians were dropping all the bags in one. Where are we? What are we playing for? Olympics parks are meant to teach people to sport again, but why at this price? When it’s better, why is not that so?!