Sunday, January 22, 2023

Update for serving in Spain

There have been some changes in the steps to take when applying to serve at an albrgue overseen by HOSVOL. The coordinator in Spain is now Manual Oliva. Manuel wants all initial applications for service (in a HOSVOL albergue) to come through Tom Friesen An application from you will consist of an email to Tom, with the choice of month that you are free to serve and a choice of albergue from the HOSVOL list. Tom will forward on your information (application and passport photo page) including your offered time (first or last half month). If you are restricted to a specific first or last half of a month, please do indicate this. And if you don’t have a preference for an albergue you could perhaps indicate city or rural. With this kind of information, it makes it easier for Manuel to respond and offer you a specfic albergue. 

Also, for this summer, two albergues, which are usually very busy will be posting for shorter periods of time. 

Estella will change hospice every Saturday in July, Aug, Sept, so only serving 1 week, not 2.

Ponferrada will have 10 day postings in July, Aug, Sept. 

Please click on the link to your right to see where Canadian Hospitaler@s have been posted so far this year. The photos below are from the albergue in Salamanca, February 2019.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Time to consider serving in 2023

I know it seems a long way away, but albergues are already trying to schedule for next year. Please remember that to volunteer at those donativo albergues scheduled by HOSVOL,  you must contact Anai Barreda at . 

For Grado (Camino Primitivo), Nájera (Camino Francés) and Canfranc (Camino Aragones), please contact Rebekah Scott 

Miraz, on the Camino del Norte has just posted the times when they need volunteers. As you can see below, there are a few weeks already booked, but much is still available. If you are interested, please get in touch with Pricilla White

 1 Arrive:  Wednesday 29 March - Depart: Thursday 13 April - taken
2 Arrive:  Wednesday 12 April - Depart: Thursday 27 April

3: Arrive:  Wednesday 26 April - Depart: Thursday 11 May

4: Arrive:  Wednesday 10 May - Depart: Thursday 25 May - taken

5: Arrive:  Wednesday 24 May - Depart: Thursday 8 June - taken

6: Arrive:  Wednesday 7 June - Depart: Thursday 22 June - taken

7: Arrive:  Wednesday 21 June - Depart: Thursday 6 July

8: Arrive:  Wednesday 5 July - Depart: Thursday 20 July

9: Arrive:  Wednesday 19 July - Depart: Thursday 3 August

10: Arrive:  Wednesday 2 August - Depart: Thursday 17 August

11: Arrive:  Wednesday 16 August - Depart: Thursday 31 August
12: Arrive:  Wednesday 30 August - Depart: Thursday 14 September

13: Arrive:  Wednesday 13 September - Depart: Thursday 28 September

14: Arrive:  Wednesday 27 September - Depart: Thursday 12 October - taken

15: Arrive:  Wednesday 11 October - Leave: Depart:  Thursday 26 October  - taken

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Canada wide training offered in April 2022

We are delighted to announce that we will be offering a hybrid Zoom/in-person training session for those past pilgrims who are eager to return to the Camino and serve their fellow pilgrims. 

This training will be a mixture of an initial Zoom meeting with those in your geographic vicinity during the first week of April. That date will be decided by the trainer in your area. The second part will be 2 Zoom sessions on April 9 and 10th and all the trainers from across Canada will be in attendance to not only offer sections of the training but to provide a depth and breadth of experience that cannot be offered in an in-person training. Each day will be about 3 hours in length with a bio break.

The times for April 9th and 10th will be:

10am. Pacific

11am Mountain

1pm Central

3pm Maritime

As spring comes to all of us at different times, the last day of training will be an in-person one on a day in your area that allows for an outdoor option.

If you are interested in serving in France or Spain in 2022 or 2023, please fill out an application. But first, have a read through the FAQs , below:

1. What is the goal of the Canadian Hospitalero program?

We want to inform, train and place well-trained, compassionate hospitaleros on a Camino, in albergues or gîtes in Spain, France, Italy or Portugal. If you are a woman, you become a (h)ospitalera voluntaria and if you are a man, you will be a (h)ospitalero voluntario. The H is spelled but not pronounced in Spanish and the second last vowel is stressed.

2. What are the requirements for taking training as a hospitalero/a?

The person taking training should have walked as a pilgrim. Occasionally a spouse or other relative who has not walked but wishes to serve, has taken the training. We do not require that you have stayed in gîtes or albergues but this will aid in your ability to understand and apply the training.

3. Does the training have a time limit/expiry date?

No. Taking the training once will allow you to serve in multiple places and times. We hope that people who train this year will plan to serve within the next year or two.

4. What are the benefits of service?

You are given a safe and secure space within the albergue. You have the opportunity to meet and interact with pilgrims at a time when they are "in a thin place, needing help and support to walk their pilgrimage. It is a wonderful opportunity to experience the culture and community of a town or city in Spain, France, Italy or Portugal. Friendships are likely to develop that will last a long time.

5. What are the duties of a hospitalero/a?

The tasks can vary with the services that the albergue provides. In most albergues there is a requirement for cleaning after the pilgrims leave. As the pilgrims arrive, we welcome them, register them and orient them to the albergue and the community services. In some (mainly parochial) albergues, there may be a pilgrim communal meal served and the chance for pilgrims to attend an optional vesper service conducted by the hospitalero/a. The hospitalero/a is expected to solicit a donation but never give a set amount and is expected to treat all guests the same, regardless of what they donate, without discrimination or favour. The pilgrim is considered a guest in our "home" and we train hospitalero/as to keep this in front of mind.

6. Do I get a choice of where to serve?

There are only certain albergues (about 35) that we have contacts with, but of course a trained hospitalero/a is welcome to go wherever they wish. The coordinators (in Spain, France, Italy and Portugal often give choices when no preference is expressed.) The vast majority of our trainees work in donativo albergues. 

7. Is there pay or support to arrive at or serve at my posting?

As hospitalero/as, it is our responsibility to pay for our transportation and expenses to arrive at the albergue the day before our "shift" begins. In a parochial albergue where meals are prepared, we do not normally contribute (except for our own supplies, wine or spirits). In albergues like municipal albergues where the pilgrims buy or bring their own food, the hospitalero/a also buys their own food.

8. Do I have to administer first aid?

As a condition of insurance, you are asked NOT to provide first aid unless you are a trained medical professional. Of course, you can be proactive by hydrating pilgrims, providing first aid supplies and support for blister prevention and treatment, etc.

9. Do I have to take charge of the money donated?

The conditions in the albergues vary greatly and some albergues provide the hospitalero access to the donations box to use for staples in the albergue, the rest being deposited into the bank. In other cases, there is a local supervisor who will take care of the money.

10. What happens if there is a problem that I/we are unable to solve?

You are given the name and contact of an albergue supervisor whom you may phone or email to help make decisions that are beyond your control.

11. What can I do to prepare to serve before my posting place and time arrives?

Make sure that you are in good health. Work on your language skills (although you will hear us ask what language you smile in). We have some materials that we will share as well as recordings of hospitaleros taking about their service.

12. What is it like to have to observe Covid protocols in the albergues?

The protocols are in transition but generally there is a reduced capacity, temperature checks to enter, social distancing, less access to kitchen the normally provided and possibly no food provided to pilgrims. Also, masking while indoors.


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Video of hospitaleros Zoom meeting and further updates

It's been awhile since there has been anything posted on this blog because there has not been anything to post. However, now that Spain and France are opening up again and pilgrims are walking the Camino, hospitaleros are needed. If you are itching to go and serve, please contact Tom or Mary

We had about 55 people attend the two Zoom meetings on the weekend and the discussion was lively. We were very lucky to have Rebekah Scott sit in on both meetings and Guibert Fortin and Herman Velvis (from the Netherlands) attended as well. Guibert has served in Zamora in June see below for their protocols for both pilgrims and hospitaleros), and will be at the Pilgrim Office in Santiago in August. He had some interesting things to say about specific Covid procedures. Herman also had some very useful tips for all prospective hospitaleros and these are all on the video. Please click here to see the video. The passcode is: J3SYFuD!

We talked about the the various organizations who are providing hospitaleros for albergues on the Camino. Many of you know of HOSVOL and our contact that is Anai Barreda. We will be posting an updated list of albergues as soon as it's available. Meanwhile, we have the general protocols from Hosvol and also the specific protocols for the albergue in Zamora, which is multilingual. These are all at the bottom of this page.

Another organization is ACC, Acogida Cristiana en los caminos de Santiago, which accepts volunteers to work at the Pilgrim office in Santiago de Compostela. We've had a number of volunteers work there and it's hard work, but the stories are wonderful.

The Confraternity of Saint James in London, UK, posts volunteers to Albergue Guacelmo in Rabanal del Camino and the Albergue de Peregrinos in Miraz on the Camino del Norte. These two albergues will remain closed for the season and they plan to reopen April 2022.

Rebekah Scott is on the board of the FICS (Fraternidad Internacional del Camino de Santiago) and they are now renovating and finding volunteers for 3 albergues: Grado on the Camino Primitivo; Canfranc on the Camino Aragones; and Nájera on the Camino Francés. Grado is staffed for the season, but volunteers are still needed for Canfranc and Nájera. Any queries can be sent directly to Rebekah.

The FFACC Fédération Française des Associations des Chemins de Saint Jacques de Compostelle has now centralized all hospitalero matters with one person, Gilbert Planchat Any interest that you have in serving in France should be directed to him.

Protocols for pilgrims arriving at the albergue in Zamora.

Protocols for hospitaleros serving at the albergue in Zamora.

HOSVOL Protocols for hospitaleros & Pilgrims

HOSVOL Protocols for the albergue


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The current status of training and serving in Spain

The following was posted by the American Pilgrims on the Camino and give us an idea of what the current state is for the training and serving at albergues in Spain.

Hello hospitaleros,

All of you have completed the hospitalero training program of American Pilgrims on the Camino, which follows the training curriculum of the Federación Española de Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago (the Federation).  Many of us are eager to know whether serving on the Camino might be possible in 2021.  On December 12-13, 2020, veteran hospitaleros who volunteer through the Federation held their annual encuentro on Zoom.  Anai Barreda, the volunteer who has coordinated placement of hospitaleros in the network of Federation albergues for many years, addressed some of the most pressing questions in the following remarks, which have been translated from Spanish and paraphrased for clarity. Bottom line – patience and hope.

The American Pilgrims Hospitalero Training Team

January, 2021


When registering for this encuentro, some hospitaleros expressed interest in the Federation’s plans for 2021. Many others outside our group who are interested in the Camino de Santiago are watching us as well.

As is the case in our respective countries, we do not know what awaits us in the coming months. The Federation Hospitalero program has assumed that we are willing to serve pilgrims as was done in some albergues during 2020, but it is also clear that we have to wait. The hopeful news about vaccines against Covid19 allow us to hold some expectations but everything is still uncertain.

Will we be able go to the albergues? We have had excellent experiences in 2020 in 4 albergues -only 4 albergues- that were opened to serve pilgrims. All the others remained closed and, at the moment, we do not know what their owners are thinking about reopening. These decisions will be made at the beginning of the year; we believe that more albergues will be motivated to open but perhaps others will decide to wait even longer. As we continue to be interested in what they are thinking as well as their fears and needs, we must be very patient and we hospitaleros must not put any pressure on these owners who have many other responsibilities. They know (because we have informed them) that we are ready to reopen and have had experience with receiving and welcoming pilgrims in other places in spite of the coronavirus and that the results have been good.

How many hospitaleros will we need? This is a question that we can’t answer now. We aren’t concerned because our group of Hospitaleros is a force of volunteers like nowhere else on the Camino.  But the reality is that the uncertainties facing us present a barrier to adding new hospitaleros to the extent that we have up to now.

How many new hospitaleros can the organization “absorb”?  Two questions affect the answer to this question. One, what will be the need for hospitaleros at albergues when we still do not know if they will open or not. Another is whether it is possible to offer training courses for new hospitaleros.

Will it be possible to conduct training courses in person?  If we offer courses in person, it will be necessary to find places that allow distancing in the classroom and in the sleeping and eating areas. All of you who are present at this encuentro know that the characteristics of hospitalero training courses and the content itself are completely opposite of what health measures require in the current situation. Social distancing is not a part of hospitalero practice; neither among those who attend the courses nor when we welcome pilgrims. Our practice is to receive and welcome pilgrims with closeness and personal contact. That’s why the relationship of hospitaleros and pilgrims has been difficult this year. Those of us who focus on the organization of the courses and their delivery do not see a possibility of online courses because the uniqueness of our training can’t be communicated from the solitude of our homes.

Will the contents of the workshops change? Again, difficult to answer. It is evident that as long as we do not fully return to normality, and until Covid19 is a globally controlled disease, we will have to continue imposing distance, prevention and disinfection measures and these things will be added to the course. But - and this is the most worrying thing - everything related to our way of welcoming that based on closeness and physical proximity will be prohibited until further notice. How can we explain that listening and hugging are fundamental parts of our style of welcome (and a fundamental part of the success of our program of Hospitaleros on the Camino) but now we can’t do any of that?

Do we search for another different approach? We think not. After the holidays, the situation will have to be faced. We will see what we can add to our course that complies with health regulations, but communicates to new hospitaleros that a traditional reception on the Camino is still possible in spite of current difficulties because the attitudes expected of a hospitalero continue to be valid. However, we have to find a way to substitute other “charms” for a time. Perhaps some of the hospitaleros who have served during this year’s lock down can give some advice.

Will hospitaleros be asked to be vaccinated against Covid 19 in order to serve at an albergue? Will the pilgrims be asked? Vaccinations in Spain are not mandatory according to current laws, so we will not ask any hospitalero for a certificate showing that they have been vaccinated against Covid19, nor will we ask the same of any pilgrim that we welcome while we serve. However, we do recommend vaccination to avoid Covid 19 similar to other vaccinations against diseases that are available in the Spanish healthcare system

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

All future trainings are cancelled

Hi all,
This will come as no surprise to anyone when I write that all planned hospitalero training sessions must be cancelled. Saskatoon and Kelowna were going to happen this spring, but nothing will be planned until the all clear is given concerning the COVID-19 virus. We all hope that we have an all clear in this country so that we can continue with training in Halifax in October.

For those of you who are unaware, the Camino, and that includes all routes in France and Spain, is closed. The albergues in Spain are closed as are the hotels, hostels. Everything. One or two albergues stayed open for a week after everyone else closed, so that they could help pilgrims return to their homes. These albergues have now also closed.

There were many of you who had flights booked to go to Spain and France to serve in albergues. We know you must be so disappointed, as are the many pilgrims who had planned to walk and stay with you.  We thank you for your intention and do hope that all of you will be able to serve next year if that is still your wish and the Camino is open. Spain is in a terrible state right now and we pray that soon, with the lockdown they have imposed, that they will be able to flatten the curve.

Please stay at home. Please stay safe.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

More training in Saskatoon and also Halifax

We are delighted to be able to offer more trainngs both in the west and east of Canada. Tom Friesen will be leading the training in Saskatoon on the weekend of April 24-26. The registration information is on the sidebar. Please contact Tom at if you have any questions. 

Also Halifax will be hosting a training session on the weekend of October 23-25. Again please contact Tom if you are interested.