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:
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.
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.