Group volunteer experiences with the Catalina Island Conservancy offer an enjoyable opportunity to get into the outdoors, work as a cohesive team, share stories, and create an awareness of island ecology and conservation issues. Volunteer groups have an added advantage of many hands working cooperatively to tackle and complete restoration projects that generate impressive results in a short amount of time. For any questions, please contact Lesly Lieberman, our volunteer coordinator at or 310-510-2595 Ext. 112.

An array of volunteer groups ranging from local and National chapters of the Sierra Club, to Alternative Spring Break Programs and the AmeriCorps NCCC have volunteered with us. Group service trips typically work for three to seven days at a time, and they are usually housed at the Laura Stein Volunteer Camp located in the Island's interior.

As a Conservancy volunteer you will be provided with on-island transportation, training and tools for your projects, accommodations at the Laura Stein Volunteer Camp or the Blackjack Volunteer Camp and a volunteer experience that is suited to your group's age range, talents and abilities. 

As you begin to plan your volunteer trip with the Catalina Island Conservancy you will need to choose an individual from your group who is willing be your group coordinator. The responsibilities of the Group Coordinator include arranging boat transportation, contacting the Conservancy's group coordinator, keeping all participants informed by meeting with your group before your scheduled volunteer trip and volunteering on the island with your group.

Laura Stein Volunteer Camp ~ Our volunteer camp is located approximately 5 miles west of Avalon, near the Haypress Reservoir.  It is nestled among Coastal Scrub Oak and Lemonade Berry groves. The site is composed of two canvas-sided tents on raised decks. Each tent cabin contains eight padded bunk beds. Sleeping accommodations are dorm-style and cozy. For those of you who prefer more privacy, you have the option of bringing your own tent.

Amenities include; picnic benches, umbrellas, bathroom facilities (flush toilets), hot showers (indoor and out!) and potable, running hot/cold water. The outdoor kitchen is equipped with a propane barbecue, a two-burner stove, cookware, plate ware, cups, and eating utensils -- all the comforts of home!  There are also food storage containers, coolers (Ice will need to be purchased) to store perishable foods. The camp is supplied with environmentally friendly cleaning supplies (also dish soap and hand washing soap) and paper products (paper towel and toilet paper).  There is no electricity supplied to camp, lanterns are used in the evenings.

Blackjack Volunteer Camp ~ This camp is located near the base of Blackjack Mountain, nestled among evergreen trees and newly planted saplings.  The site is composed of four FEMA tents and each tent contains 10 cots with 3' mattresses. Sleeping accommodations are dorm-style and cozy. For those of you who prefer more privacy, you have the option of bringing your own tent.

Amenities include; picnic benches, athroom facilities (flush toilets), hot showers and potable, running hot/cold water. The outdoor kitchen is equipped with 2 propane barbecues with two two-burner stoves, two refrigerators, cookware, plate ware, cups, and eating utensils. There are also food storage containers to store perishable foods. The camp is supplied with environmentally friendly cleaning supplies (also dish soap and hand washing soap) and paper products (paper towel and toilet paper).  There is no electricity, however, are 4 USB ports to recharge phones and tablets.  Lanterns or headlamps are used in the evenings.

Volunteer projects are chosen for groups based on several factors: the time of the year, (as these can vary according to seasonal conditions), and a group's abilities, age and skill level. Below is a list of one or more of the projects your group may participate in.

Detailed instruction and safety training are provided for each project. While those with varying skills and abilities are encouraged to participate, volunteers need to be in good physical condition and be able to hike over uneven and hilly terrain. Current tetanus shots are recommended.

Trail Maintenance and Construction ~ Maintaining trails involves keeping them clear and safe as well as marking them so that people can find their way. Maintaining trails also means preserving them for future use by preventing erosion and the spread of non-native plants, protecting the surrounding environment, and preserving a quality backcountry experience for all trail users.

Build Fence Exclosures ~ With the presence of non-native animals on the island, it is necessary to protect rare and endangered habitats from being browsed and trampled. Volunteers build temporary fence exclosures so sensitive habitats can be monitored . These areas are closely monitored for seedling success and overall health of these plant communities.

Island Maintenance ~ The Volunteer Camp and Conservancy operated facilities need seasonal maintenance with some painting, light construction and brush clearance. It is rewarding to know that you are an integral part of helping to maintain the Island's Interior.

Non-native Plant Removal ~ One of the island's greatest threats is the introduction of non-native, invasive plant species. Non-native vegetation has a competitive edge over island endemic plants, out-competing them for light, nutrients, space and water. Non-native plants threaten the biodiversity of Catalina's unique plant communities.

Nurture the Natives ~ The James H. Ackerman Native Plant Nursery, hub of our conservation efforts, collects its seeds from the island's native vegetation. Plants grown from these seeds are used for restoration projects on the Island including projects within the City of Avalon. While working at the Nursery, projects might include collecting and processing native seeds, transplanting plants, light construction, assembling equipment and nursery grounds maintenance.

Fence Removal (Island style) ~There are approximately 25 miles of old, decaying fence lines still visible on the island from the ranching days on Catalina. This project offers scenic vistas and visible results as the landscape opens up with each section of downed fence line.

Windward Beach Clean-Up ~ Enjoy the great outdoors while combing the sand for debris.  Help keep Catalina's windward beaches clean and pristine.  Clean-up locations rotate to keep all four of our windward beaches beautiful.

What to bring
Although the weather on Santa Catalina is usually mild, it can vary quite a bit. It can be cool and foggy, hot, and sometimes windy. It is best to dress in layers so that you are comfortable while working. A windbreaker is helpful when the winds pick up. Rain gear is strongly recommended during the winter months (it is better to be safe than sorry). Do not bring clothes that you do not wish to get soiled or painted on. Some of the plant extracts leave permanent stains on clothing and painting may be required during Island maintenance projects. Long sleeves and long pants will help protect from spiny plants and poison oak. It is a good idea to wear clean work clothes for each day that you are out in the field. Footwear is important and hiking boots are mandatory for each project!

  • Sleeping bag and pillow
  • Breakfast/lunch/dinner supplies
  • Water bottle (at least 32 oz)
  • Layered clothing (long pants, long sleeve shirt and rain gear)
  • Heavy coat and mittens (it can get cold)
  • Hiking boots (be sure they are broken in before arrival to avoid blisters)
  • Daypack/fanny pack
  • Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses and lip balm (even in winter)
  • Towel/bath essentials
  • Flashlight/headlamp with extra batteries.
  • Medications/allergy relief
  • Camera/phone
  • Reading material/games
  • Swimsuit
  • Money for food/souvenirs in Avalon
  • Binoculars (not required, but nice to have)
  • Water Shoes

What NOT to Bring

To reduce the risk of introducing any additional invasive plant species to Catalina's unique island environment, clothing, hiking boots/shoes and backpacks must be free of mud, soil or seeds.  Before arrival to the island, launder all clothing and clean gear and boots with soap and water.

The camp facilities are complete in that additional stoves, lanterns and chairs are not required. Mountain bikes are restricted by membership passes. Time constraints and vehicle space does not allow for their use during your visit. Firearms and illegal substances are strictly prohibited at all times.

You can help us to reduce human impacts on the island by reusing lunch containers, purchasing food items in bulk, not bringing disposable eating utensils and paper plates, and of course picking up waste and litter that has been left behind by others, we practice a strict no trace policy.

There is limited cell phone service at camp.  Verizon and AT&T work the best. In case of an outside emergency, contact can also be made to the camp by calling the Conservancy House (310-510-2595) during regular business hours, 7 days a week.

Camp Cleanup
On your final day at the volunteer camp, your will be required to clean the campsite, leaving no traces. You will have a cleaning checklist to aid you in clean up. We appreciate your assistance as the Volunteer Camp is a temporary home to many volunteers and everyone appreciates a clean camp. Please report any problems with equipment to Conservancy staff and return all loaned items.

For more information, please contact the Group Volunteer Coordinator by calling the Conservancy number listed below.

Group Volunteer Application Forms (PDF)


708 Crescent Ave., Avalon 90704 | Phone: (310) 510-2595 | 320 Golden Shore, Suite 220, Long Beach, CA 90802 | Phone: (562) 437-8555
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