Work Exchange & Volunteering – 2024

Interested in participating in our work exchange volunteer program?


*Applicants should also pre-register for the 2024 Gathering, in case you aren’t accepted into a work exchange position. Deposits can be refunded to those who ARE accepted into the program and not paying for housing/meals. You can pre-register here:


Not a musician, but love our mission and want to volunteer your time and skills?
Please email with the subject line ‘Volunteer’ and let us know that you aren’t interested in taking classes, but would be interested in volunteering.
Also tell us a little about your skills and interests, as well as your availability.


Please read general work exchange program information and FAQ below.

Please do not send unsolicited work exchange applications to our office/inbox. You must apply through the application provided on this page. 

The Swannanoa Gathering would not be as welcoming a program as it is without the tremendous enthusiasm and dedication of our work exchange crew members. In 2022 over 70 individuals donated their time, skills and muscle in exchange for free tuition. Our various crews assist attendees and administrative staff, help with concerts and make our day-to-day operations possible. Have you ever been behind the scenes at a music event? Ever worked registration in a school or office setting? If you have, you know that a lot of minute details need to be completed in order to make the event seamless. For 47 weeks of the year, we have had only two employees, so in order to keep the 5 weeks of the Gathering functioning; we need a lot of additional support! The Swannanoa Gathering is a lot of fun and a great way to meet people from all over the world that share your love for music as well as your enthusiasm for the Gathering! It is a fun way to build relationships and network.

Compensation: In exchange for work, Work Exchange Crew (W.E.C.) members will receive free class tuition ($625.00). W.E.C. members will be guaranteed their first choice of up to 2 classes and can take other classes as space, time, and your supervisor allow. Crew members will also be able to participate in all other Gathering events. Please see individual job descriptions for more details. Crew members will pay for their own transportation and personal expenses, as well as any applicable housing/meal fees.

Length: Each of our weeks is 7 days in length, working Sunday through Saturday. See individual job descriptions for details.

There are four different crews. Please refer to the application form for further details on each role.

-Housing/Office Crew (This can include a variety of weekday roles, but also includes weekend check-in/check-out.)
-Logistics & Green Crew (This role requires the mobility to set up classrooms, outdoor chair distribution & set-up, traveling around campus with supplies, etc.)
-Tent Crew (Sets up tents prior to the start & breaks them down at the conclusion, works assigned weekend check-in/check-out)
-Local Crew (Local area residents only – a variety of roles, but typically includes weekend check-ins/check-outs)

The Ideal Work Exchange Crew Member: Joining our team as a W.E.C. member is a major commitment, and it is hard work. It is, however very rewarding work and can be fun too! You will be an ideal candidate if:

  • You are at least 18 years of age (as of mid-June of the applicable year)
  • You are willing to work multiple shifts in between your classes and in the evenings
  • You are a team player
  • You don’t mind manual labor and getting dirty (if the need arises)
  • You are on time, organized, responsible and trustworthy
  • You take your job seriously
  • You love the Swannanoa Gathering and are interested in leaving your mark

If all of the above apply to you, we’d love to have you join one of our crews! For all positions, preference will be given to applicants who:

  • Are conscientious, willing to work hard, are committed to the safety, well-being, and growth of others and themselves
  • Are able to commit to a high level of participation for the duration of the position
  • Enjoy working as part of a team

In order to join us, you will need to read over the various job descriptions, choose the position that is the best fit for your skills and interests and submit your application.




Q: Do I pre-register/register, if I applied?
If I haven’t gotten an offer by class selection date, do I register for classes?
A: Yes, please pre-register (if that deadline hasn’t passed) and proceed with class selection if you haven’t heard back by that date. If selected, any pre-registration/registration deposits can be refunded, applied to housing/meal fees, if applicable, or applied to a family member’s invoice. It is faster/easier for us to refund credit/debit card transactions (vs checks).

Q: How do I apply to be a participant?
A: Click the application link above and complete the online application. If you are having any difficulties, you can email

Q: Are there any fees required for application?
A: There is no fee or deposit required to apply to be a work exchange participant.

Q: How many work exchange participants are accepted each year?
A: In the past we have needed approximately 15-18 volunteers for each week of the 5 weeks of the Gathering, depending on the enrollment, as well as several local participants who are available to help in the months prior to the start of the Gathering.

Q: What is the acceptance process?
A: Priority is given to those who send in their application by the application deadline. We look for folks with a variety of experience with the Gathering. For each week, we try to have participants who have:

  • never attended the Gathering,
  • have attended the Gathering, but have never volunteered,
  • have been a Gathering volunteer in the past

Q: Who does the scheduling?
A: The Operations Manager and Work Exchange Program Coordinator sort through the applications and assign positions where needed. The Work Exchange Program Coordinator does the scheduling and the range of hours required for each position is listed in each position description. Please only apply for positions where you know you will available during the times required. If something does come up for you personally, prior to the Gathering, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can fill your position.

Q: When do I get my schedule?
A: Once the positions are awarded, we will email you with a registration form to fill out your two preferred classes. Once everyone has returned the registration form, we will create the schedule around everyone’s preferred classes. Final schedules will be emailed as soon as all of the registrations are in and the schedule is complete. This can take a few months, so may not be available until late April, but your tentative schedule will be emailed to you as soon as we receive your registration.

Q: Is there an age limit for work exchange crew participants?
A: Applicants must be 18 years of age by July 1st.

Q: Can I apply for more than one week a summer?
A: Because of the great number of applicants we receive for positions, we prefer to share the opportunities with as many people as possible. Please see individual job descriptions for more details.

Q: Can I work during one week and take classes in another?
A: We ask that participants work the week in which they are planning to take classes. The only exception to this being the Local Crew and Tent Crew, which work prior to the Gathering.

Q: Can I work in exchange for someone else’s tuition?
A: We work to find ways of defraying the cost of attending the Gathering. In addition to our work exchange program, we also offer scholarships through our Youth Scholarship Program. Often parents want to work in exchange for their child’s tuition. We prefer that the work exchange be directly with the student who will be taking classes. If you would like to inquire about this possibility, however, please contact us prior to submitting an application.

Q: Is it possible to work with the Children’s Program?
A: The Children’s Program hires their own staff for the summer and usually hires from an internal pool of students who have grown up attending the Children’s Program for many years. If your child is interesting in applying as a junior counselor and has attended the Children’s Program in the past, please contact the Children’s Program Coordinator.

Q: What if my availability changes?
A: Please call or email the Gathering as soon as you know there is a change in your schedule. We appreciate your timeliness on this issue, as your position as a work exchange crew participant is very important and we will have to work to find someone to fill it.

Q: When do I check in?
A: Most of the crew positions start with registration on the Sunday of your week, but you will be receiving an email in early spring that will let you know when to arrive.

Q: Who supervises the Work Exchange Crews?
A: We have a Work Exchange Program Coordinator  that is responsible for coordinating shifts, delegating work, training crew members and being on hand to problem solve any issues that arise within the crew. The Coordinator works directly with the rest of the Administrative Team to ensure that all needs are met each day.