The Elephant Nature Park (ENP) is home to over thirty rescued elephants, there because they are no longer able to work in elephant-based industries like logging or inhumane trekking operations.

The reserve is vast, peaceful, and amazing. Waking up in your raised bamboo hut in the morning, you'll look out the window to see the red sun rising over a dusty bank of trees. Feet away, a mother elephant throws arcs of dirt over its back while a baby elephant ruffles through the tall grass with its trunk. And for the rest of the day you'll be a part of their family. It's like living in a wildlife documentary, seeing these amazing creatures in their homeland

Elephant Nature Park was founded twenty years ago in an effort to provide sanctuary for those elephants who, disabled or otherwise unable to work, would have been severely mistreated or killed.

These elephants are given a chance to live and be cared for in a peaceful setting. Eventually many of the elephants at the ENP will be released to live as they would in the wild on a forest reserve owned by the ENP.

Many of the elephants have been rescued from Burma, where logging is still legal. Each elephant has a mahout, a trainer who stays with his elephant for the elephant’s life, and many of the mahouts have also escaped from Burma’s oppressive government regime. The park provides each mahout with food, shelter, and a fair wage in addition to a chance to make additional income by selling souvenirs on consignment in the park's gift shop.

In addition to serving as a sanctuary, ENP strives to preserve and repair the struggling rain forest habitat in its surrounding area. The park reintroduces native species to around 30 acres per year, and will do so for the next five years, in order to turn abandoned farmland back into climates suitable for elephants to live and breed.

Our students will live for one week at the Elephant Nature Park as volunteers. The experience is unforgettable and life-changing. Students live in double or triple rooms that are grouped together in buildings spread throughout the property. The rooms have linoleum floors, twin beds with mosquito nets, windows, and a fan. Bathrooms are shared and most offer only cold water. From their window, they can often see the elephants sleeping, eating, and interacting with one another and with their mahouts.

Each day at the Elephant Nature Park is different, but the general schedule includes a rotating set of responsibilities shared by the volunteers and the staff: buying, cutting and picking food for the elephants (no small task), taking the elephants to the river to bathe (no dry task), feeding the elephants, cleaning up after the elephants, and other routine property maintenance. Much of the daily work is difficult and messy, and not every chore involves touching the elephants.

Our vet service program will be able to shadow the vet every day, learning about how the elephants are cared for. Sometimes this will take the place of a daily chore, and sometimes it will be an additional task. Our staff vet will be on hand to help provide care as well. Students may be asked to help provide care for the dogs who live on the property as well.

The first few evenings, the ENP provides some kind of educational event in order to help volunteers understand the treatment of both domestic and wild elephants in Thailand. For the rest of the week, evenings are ours to meet together or goof off.

The food at ENP is incredible: an amazing selection of vegetarian dishes. If you’ve never had green papaya salad, a Thai favorite, you’re in for a real treat. This isn’t camp food; even the pickiest eaters will find something to love. When it’s time to go you may miss the food more than the elephants.

The best part of the ENP experience is the time volunteers have to independently learn about and observe the elephants in their natural interactions. The staff is extremely knowledgeable about animal behaviors, elephant family behaviors, local conservation efforts, and the local animal habitats. There is time throughout the day to observe the elephants from various platforms throughout the property, and we encourage students to take the time to watch these elephants from an up-close perspective. Students will be encouraged to take opportunities to observe the elephants and learn about them by talking to conservationists, mahouts, the staff veterinarian, and our faculty.

The Elephant Nature Park has been recognized time and again as a tireless, compassionate and effective conservation effort. In addition to elephants, the park has rescued over 500 dogs, most of whom were rescued from the 2011 flooding in Bangkok. The dogs live in 9 runs on the property students are welcome to volunteer with them in their downtime. The park is, at various times, also home to water buffalo, cats, pigs, chickens, and rabbits, and there may be opportunities to help with any and all animals at the park depending on their current needs.

Each group's volunteer schedule will be flexible and will vary slightly depending on the needs of the Elephant Nature Park during their week. The volunteers at the park are essential to supporting every function of the park, which is why students earn 40 service hours for their week of volunteering. In addition to their shoveling, cleaning, chopping, planting, cutting, feeding, and washing, students may have the chance to do activities such as cooling off by tubing down the river that passes through the property, playing a pick-up game of soccer with the ENP staff, or visiting the local school that's supported in part by the Elephant Nature Park.

The Team of The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association recently presented founder Lek Chailert with the Shining World Compassion Award for demonstrating "a pure heart, loving concern, and selfless service and caring for Thailand’s magnificent elephants.”

Lek, an inspiring leader and conservationist, will be coming to speak personally to our students about her project and what they can do to help it succeed.