Volunteer Alumni Story: How a Service Project in Thailand Inspired This Teen’s Career Path

Volunteer Alumni Story: How a Service Project in Thailand Inspired This Teen’s Career Path

This story was submitted by Samantha Rosen, an Alumni of our Thailand Community Service Program.

Samantha is the 2019 winner of the Share Your Volunteer Story contest, where alumni of our Volunteer programs share their stories with us for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card and a $100 donation to the charity of their choice.

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date with our contests throughout the year.

The initial culture shock I felt while watching the tiny hill villages roll by as we drove down the dirt roads of Thailand started to fade, and in its place my concern for the hidden citizens developed.

My experience that summer in Thailand with Westcoast Connections only confirmed my commitment to help the remote people all over the world that are unable to obtain the medical resources they desperately need.

When we arrived in the small Thai Keep Reading »

10 Fun Things to do in California for Teens

10 Fun Things to do in California for Teens

Looking for things to do or places to visit in California on your next trip? Look no further.

We’ve been running teen summer programs through the golden state for the last 36 years, so it’s safe to say we’re in the loop about the best things to do in California.

Whether you’re headed to Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, or another sunny destination in Cali, chances are, you’ll be able to check off a few items on this list. And if you’re joining one of our Active Teen Tours this summer, you might just be able to check them all off.

1. Cruise the waters of Lake Tahoe

Arguably one of the most beautiful lakes in the country, Lake Tahoe is renown for its deep blue waters and breathtaking surroundings. The lake itself is enormous, and there are tons of activities to take part in either on the water or the shoreline, depending Keep Reading »

7 of our Best Volunteer Abroad Programs for 2019

7 of our Best Volunteer Abroad Programs for 2019

Participating in a volunteer abroad program is an immensely valuable way for any teen to spend their summer.

Combining the transformative experience of volunteering with the incredible benefits of travel? Now that’s something you’ll remember forever.

Global volunteer programs give you the opportunity to broaden your perspectives at a critical point in your personal development. You’ll gain leadership, teamwork, social, and problem-solving skills while working on a variety of community service projects with your peers. What’s more; the friendships you’ll forge while volunteering abroad can last a lifetime.

So how do you choose the right volunteer program? It’s not always easy. There are many volunteer opportunities for teens to choose from. That’s why we’ve done our best to make the choice a little bit easier for you.

We’ve gone through our full list of amazing community service programs and hand-picked 7 that will transport you to exciting destinations outside North America. Some are new, Keep Reading »

Summer Programs for Teens: Outgrowing Camp

Summer Programs for Teens: Outgrowing Camp

Whether your latest summer camp experience was last year or 30 years ago, it was probably one of the highlights of your year.

You might not have known it at the time, but while you canoed, played sports, and stayed up too late talking, you were actually doing a lot of learning.

Tons of studies have shown that going to summer camp has numerous positive effects on kids. From developing social and leadership skills to improving confidence; many of the things you do at camp have a lasting impact on your life.

Inevitably though, after a few summers of camp, middle and high school teens begin to look for other ways to spend their few precious months between school years. No need to worry, because those incredible summers of making friends, experiencing new things, and developing as a person don’t have to end with outgrowing camp.

We’ve spent the last 37 years operating summer Keep Reading »

Cruising through California!

Cruising through California!

We began our journey to Southern California with an epic Name That Tune battle. That night we had a great evening camping and making a delicious BBQ dinner followed by some fun card games of Spit and Kent. The following day we headed to Ventura Beach where we were excited to see a sea lion swimming by.

Our Los Angeles adventure began at Venice Beach where we enjoyed delicious Poke bowls and appreciated watching the street performers. After a morning well spent, we headed over to UCLA where we enjoyed the amazing facilities on campus.

The next morning everyone felt lucky to be able to help out at the Los Angeles Food Bank and assist the volunteers sort through food that will be used to provide over 8,000 meals. We had an amazing time and loved being able to give back to the community.

Next stop: Disneyland! Everyone loved Keep Reading »

A New Perspective on Happiness in La Carpio – Costa Rica Community Service

A New Perspective on Happiness in La Carpio – Costa Rica Community Service

These past couple of weeks have been action-packed! After departing Flamingo we went to Rincon de la Vieja and stayed at a eco-resort, which allowed us to fully immerse ourselves in the true beauty and culture of Costa Rica.

One of the first activities we did at the resort was zip lining, where we had fun flying through the air and taking in the sights from a new vantage point! The following day we embarked on a scenic hike to a local waterfall and enjoyed the breathtaking scenery, swimming, talking and relaxing. Next up was our visit to the mud baths, where the trip members fully embraced getting dirty, painting themselves with mud, and unwinding in the hot springs. After returning to the resort everyone had a nice dip in the pool to complete our day of R&R.

After returning to San Jose, we made our way to La Carpio to volunteer Keep Reading »

From Las Vegas to the Incredible Canyons – American Voyageur

From Las Vegas to the Incredible Canyons – American Voyageur

Reflecting on the amazing experiences we’ve shared in the last few days, what an adventure it’s been! Starting with the cruise, we spent five days on a Carnival cruise ship, swimming and relaxing on the top deck, challenging each other to mini golf and arcade games, and enjoying all-you-can-eat soft serve ice cream. Perhaps the best part of the cruise was that we shared the experience altogether!!

Our first stop was the city of Avalon on Catalina Island, a little tropical island about a hundred miles off the coast of Long Beach. The island is known for having no cars so instead people get around on foot, bicycle, or golf cart. While we were there we snorkeled and went kayaking on the pristine blue water. The snorkelers even saw an octopus! Then we boarded the boat to head to Enseñada, Mexico. When we docked in Enseñada, the group walked around town Keep Reading »

Cruisin’ Through the Westcoast – American Voyageur

Cruisin’ Through the Westcoast – American Voyageur

Relaxing by the pool, enjoying unlimited soft serve ice cream and exploring Catalina & Ensenada… what more could we have possibly asked for! Our days on the cruise were spent swimming, playing mini golf and shuffleboard, hanging out by the pool and eating tons of delicious food. A highlight was when we celebrated Maxwell’s birthday in the dining room, and danced our hearts out as they played music during dinner.

As our days at sea came to a close, we headed to Las Vegas! Our drive through the desert was beautiful and we got to stop at the iconic Vegas sign to snap some group pictures. We indulged at the Luxor buffet for dinner, where we were overwhelmed by the selection of food in front of us! Walking along the legendary Las Vegas strip came next and we got to explore some of the famous hotels. The Venetian and Palazzo brought Keep Reading »

Feeling Great in the Golden State – U.S. Explorer

Feeling Great in the Golden State – U.S. Explorer

After our beautiful drive through the desert, the sun welcomed us into the one and only city of Las Vegas. After a quick photo-op in front of the “Welcome To Las Vegas” sign, we relaxed at our hotel and cooled down in one of the four amazing pools. Our Egyptian themed hotel was in the shape of a pyramid and even had a sphinx outside the entrance. Following a delicious buffet dinner, the group explored the bustling streets and liked walking through the themed hotels. It wasn’t long until all of the trip members saw first hand the bustling streets of Vegas. Our trip arrived at the Bellagio to watch the awesome water and light show.

We kicked off the next day at the Stratosphere, the tallest structure in all of Nevada. Everyone had the option of going on The Big Shot, X-Scream, or Insanity rides.  Whether they chose a roller Keep Reading »

Creating Meaningful Relationships with Veterans – American Red Cross

Creating Meaningful Relationships with Veterans – American Red Cross

We’ve been busy buzzing all around the capital! Everyone enjoyed a very educational day at two of the world-class Smithsonian museums. First, we stopped at the Museum of Natural History and marveled at its amazing galleries and exhibitions. Some highlights included seeing the giant squid, mummies, dinosaurs and the stunning Hope Diamond. We also visited the Air and Space Museum, which was very popular due to its large open areas filled with interactive exhibits! Next, our group made our way to the Smithsonian National Zoo where we observed many exotic and endangered animals. Did you know that this zoo is one of only two in the country that have pandas? After a day of exploring and learning, we shared an indoor family picnic of cheesy wood-oven pizza, spicy Mexican fajitas, hamburgers and milkshakes. Our evening program was a fun game called, Don’t Forget The Lyrics, which kept us all laughing, Keep Reading »