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 FederaciĆ³n EspaƱola 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 tomfriesen@hotmail.com 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. 

Friday, February 28, 2020

Update on training weekends

The London Training weekend is now FULL. 
The Kelowna training weekend has been moved from April 17/19 to June 5/7. Please contact David at Kelowna@santiago.ca or Mary Virtue at mary@victoriacamino.ca fo more information and a registration form. Information on the course can also be found in the sidebars. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Training also offered in Kelowna BC

Training will be offered the weekend of April 17-19. For mor information and a registration form, please contact David at kelowna@santiago.ca. 
Information about the course, the schedule, seeing where Canadians are posted this year and other trainings, can be found further down in this blog or on the sidebar. 

Monday, January 27, 2020

Training offered in London, Ontario

We are pleased to let everyone know that as well as the Training in Calgary in April, there will be another training session in London Ontario. Please contact Tom Friesen. Please see the registration form below. If you cannot print the form, please send Tom the information by email. Thanks

Camino de Santiago
Hospitalero training
April 17-19, 2020
London, ON

Thank you for your interest in training to be a hospitalero/a.  We guarantee that it will be a weekend of fun, learning, and reinforcement of all those things you learned and felt on the Camino.  Some folks will be coming from out of town and will require accommodation.  If you have room to billet a single or couple, please indicate below. You will have great fun reliving the Camino!

Please complete this form and return it with a cheque for $125.00 or your donativo (what you feel you can afford) payable to Tom Friesen, 1403 – 22 Picton Street, London, ON N6B 3R5 (or return by email and send the cheque separately). E-mail tomfriesen@hotmail.com  Any money left after the expenses for the weekend will be donated to an albergue or hospitaleros voluntarios which staffs many albergues on the Camino.



Telephone:                                                email;

Will you require billeting for the Friday/Saturday/Sunday nights?

Can you provide billeting for the Friday/Saturday/Sunday nights?

Any food restrictions we should be aware of?

When did you walk/cycle the Camino?   Month and year(s) please.

Why do you want to be a hospitalero/a?

Are you prepared to volunteer for 15 days in 2020 or 2021? (The Federation assigns volunteers from the 1st to the 15th of the month of the 16th to 30th/31st . You should show up a day early to “learn the ropes” and for a smooth transition at the albergue.)
Thanks, Tom Friesen,  Darlene McKee

Monday, January 13, 2020

Training offered in Calgary in April 2020

In preparation for helping out in Spain for the Holy Year 2021, we are training more volunteers. 

Calgary will host another Hospitalero Training Course on April 24 - 25 - 26, 2020. So, if you are interested in volunteering on the Camino de Santiago, this course is for you! It is comprehensive and fun and it is required by the Spanish Federation of the Friends of the Camino to be placed as a volunteer in their hostels.  Criteria for course acceptance are that you must already have been a pilgrim and stayed in volunteer run hostels supported by donations.

To enhance the learning experience, registration is limited to 16 people. 
If you do not live in Calgary you can be billeted by former pilgrims in their home. 
Complete the registration form and don't miss out!
Monique Rigole 
Course Coordinator 

                                      Calgary Chapter, Canadian Company of Pilgrims
                          Hospitalero Training
                            April 24 - 25 - 26 2020 Calgary

If you have walked a camino and are interested volunteering as a hospitalero in a pilgrim’s hostel, this course is for you! Please complete this registration form and return it with a cheque made payable to Calgary Chapter, Canadian Company of Pilgrims in the amount of $125.00 by April 15, 2020. Unfortunately e-transfers can not be made therefore, mail your cheque to Monique Rigole #306, 4 Hemlock Crescent SW Calgary AB T3C 2Z1 (or, e-mail the registration form to Monique and mail the cheque separately). 
We promise a weekend of fun, learning and, reinforcement of all those good things you valued and felt on the Camino. Participation is limited to 16, don’t miss out by being late!
Training begins on the Friday evening with a Spanish dinner and ends on Sunday at 4pm.



Telephone:                                                      email:

If you do not come from Calgary do you require billeting Friday and Saturday? 

If you are from Calgary, could you provide billeting Friday and Saturday, for out of town participants?                                                   If yes, for how many?

Are there any food restrictions we should be aware of?

Which Camino(s) did you walk/cycle and when? (Month and year)

Did you stay at Municipal or parochial albergues? 

Why do you want to be a hospitalero/a?

Are you prepared to volunteer for 15 days in 2020 or 2021? 

As soon as your registration and payment are received, you will receive confirmation that you are registered. In early April, participants will receive a detailed training schedule, addresses of training venues and a pre-course assignment which you will bring to the course. 
Contact me with any other course questions. 
Meanwhile, the training team is looking forward to seeing you.
Monique Rigole
Hospitalero Training Coordinator, Calgary

Calgary, April 2019