Travel to Costa Rica this summer for a teen community service program you won’t forget! Work alongside some of our long-standing service partners on projects such as running a day camp for the children of La Carpio, taking part in a community infrastructure project in Central Valley, working to protect endangered sea turtles, and helping protect native plants from invasive species. This Costa Rica student trip uses a service-learning framework tailored for high school students, where our staff provide guidance and reflection on the impact of the work we do throughout the program and promote the value of empathy and cultural sensitivity. When not volunteering, you’ll be off on amazing adventures like learning to surf, rappeling down a waterfall, and exploring Manuel Antonio National Park, where you might even see a sloth or wild monkey! It won’t be long until you will fall in love with all things Costa Rican and the Pura Vida lifestyle.
About This Program
What It's Like
The perfect balance of meaningful service projects, cultural immersion and unforgettable adventures.
This program requires an open mind to experience a different culture, new foods and comfortable hotels.
70 Service Hours
A certificate of completion detailing the program's service hours and projects will be issued after the trip.
Everybody participates together in each project. Specific projects are confirmed in late spring and are similar to those described.
A professional guide accompanies the group to assist, educate and immerse the students into the local culture.
Hotels & lodges.
Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
Includes all recreation & activities listed.
Chartered, air conditioned motor coach with a professional driver.
Up to 24 participants.
• Run day camp activities for young children from La Carpio.
• Learn to surf with professional instructors.
• Work on a community project like helping to build homes.
• Experience a canyoning adventure in Arenal.
• Protect endangered sea turtles through volunteer work with LAST.
• Enjoy a thrilling whitewater rafting adventure.
• Zip-line over the canopy in Rincon de la Vieja National Park.
• Explore Manuel Antonio National Park on a guided tour.
Throughout our longstanding relationship with the CRHF, our groups have helped with numerous projects. We have helped build a high school for the youth of Picarges and run sports, reading, dance, crafts and face painting programming for the children of La Carpio, Palenque, and Concepción. Our participants have constructed and delivered beds to reduce overcrowding and provided children with their own beds for the first time. Finally, our groups helped reconstruct a single-family home that was destroyed in a fire.
About the CRHF
In 1978, Gail Nystrom left New Jersey for a Peace Corps assignment in Costa Rica. She moved there and founded the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation (CRHF) to improve the quality of life for populations in need. From her vision and drive, the CRHF manages more than fifty projects focusing on education, community development and preventive health care. Gail is a shining example to each of us of the difference a single person can make.
Flamingo is the quintessential beach community. The impact of tourism and development has created economic and environmental challenges for the locals. Our groups have helped in beach preservation, painting and building local homes for underprivileged residents, sprucing up the community center, and renovating a local classroom – which has all contributed to improving this community’s quality of life.
About Siempre Amigos
Founded in 2011, Siempre Amigos is an NGO partner organization that focuses on social responsibility with the mission to assist low-income families in the rural areas of Guanacaste, specifically in the improvement of living conditions. Siempre Amigos facilitates short-term projects with both local and international volunteers.
For 22 years, Urbarium has worked with those living in vulnerable communities coordinating efforts to create positive change. Urbarium provides sustainable social programs and building projects strengthening community bonds, spaces, and infrastructure. Our groups learn and work alongside community members through one of Urbarium’s various programs. Past projects have included constructing new homes for individual families and helping to renovate a multi-purpose field used by local community members.
Urbarium is a non-profit association that has been promoting communities for more than 20 years. They work to ensure at-risk groups have access to housing and accessibility to adequate social, physical and environmental communities.
Our groups have aided in reforestation and rainforest rejuvenation by planting trees and plants native to Costa Rica. Under the supervision of a local guide, our students learn how to protect growing plants from invasive species at this local co-op. Students also enjoy learning about coffee plants' care and growth.
About the Life Monteverde Co-op
Life Monteverde is a co-operative in Monteverde, Costa Rica, with a strong background in agriculture and nature conservation. Their mission is to produce, protect, and educate to help perpetuate a sustainable life on Earth.
Help with various tasks with LAST including boat trips to conduct in-water studies, lending a helping hand in the sea turtle rescue center, work on mangrove reforestation project and with beach cleaning.
About LAST For close to thirty years, their vision has been to realize a future where all inhabitants of the Costa Rican coasts can live together in balance; where healthy populations of sea turtles fulfill their ecological roles and critical natural habitats are sustainably managed.
Volunteer at this animal sanctuary, home to sloths, ocelots, macaws, toucans, crocodiles and much more. Help their team with the important work they cannot accomplish without the contribution of volunteers.
About the Refugio Animal de Costa Rica The sanctuary is located in the Central Valley of Costa Rica. It provides a safe haven for orphaned and injured wildlife, as well as for those who had to be relocated away from homes in the city.
Kick off the summer with a thrilling whitewater rafting adventure! Volunteer with CRHF and Urbarium. Taste famous and delicious Costa Rican coffee while learning how it’s grown by the comic troupe at Café Britt. You will also flaunt your moves in a Latin dance class.
Visit La Fortuna waterfall and relax in thermal hot springs. Experience a canyoning adventure in Arenal Volcano National Park.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is home to unique wildlife. Go on hikes through the lush cloud forest, zip over the rainforest canopy on the SkyTrek zip-line and challenge the locals to a soccer game!
On this retreat, horseback ride to Las Chorreras Waterfall and relaxing at the mud baths. Enjoy some downtime by the pool at our eco-resort. Cool off with a rewarding swim after hiking to a beautiful waterfall.
Get set for professional surf lessons at Tamarindo Beach, you’ll be on the board in no time! Kick back and relax by an evening bonfire on the beach.
Enjoy your second set of professional surf lessons at Playa Dominical. Your hotel is close to this famous beach where you can chill, play volleyball or cool off in the clear blue water.
Relax on sandy beaches, go on a sunset sail cruise and enjoy a guided tour with your close friends at this incredibly beautiful National Park. In addition, hike through lush rainforest and view iguanas and the rare white-faced monkeys. Maybe you’ll even see a sloth!
Central Valley, Costa Rica
Our groups will be staying at a few carefully selected hotels in the Central Valley. Properties include Hotel Autentico, Hotel Bristol Aeropuerto, Hotel Adventure Inn, La Rosa de America and Hotel Aeropuerto. Amenities at all hotels include air conditioning, internet access and a swimming pool to enjoy.
Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica
Hacienda Guachipelin is an eco-resort set atop the mountains with an open-air restaurant overlooking the valley. Facilities include a pool, patio with hammocks, air-conditioned rooms, Wi-Fi, and recreation space.
Flamingo Beach, Costa Rica
Our group will be staying at one of the following carefully selected hotels near Flamingo Beach: Hotel Casas del Toro Hacienda, Hotel Cabinas Isolinas or Seis Playas Hotel. Amenities at all hotels include air conditioning, internet access and a swimming pool to enjoy.
Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
While staying in Monteverde at either Hotel Poco a Poco, the Monteverde Country Lodge, Hotel Fonda Vela or Monteverde Rustic Lodge enjoy incredible views of the Cloud Forest. All rooms have Wi-Fi.
Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
Your group will stay at one of the following hotels near Arenal volcano: Hotel San Bosco, Hotel Montechiari, Lavas Tacotal, or Lavas del Arenal. All of the hotels offer great views of Arenal Volcano. Rooms are air-conditioned, Wi-Fi enabled and have refreshing swimming pools.
La Palma, Costa Rica
Located close to our service project in the town of La Palma, the Hawksbill Cabins have air conditioning, Wi-Fi and a pool.
Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica
Set amongst this beach resort area on the Pacific Coast, Hotel Mimos offers the ideal location to explore Manuel Antonio Park. The hotel features air-conditioned rooms, a pool, wireless internet, and a restaurant.
Flight to San Jose, Costa Rica
Participants on this program have the option of joining us on a chaperoned flight to San Jose that will be from either a NY/NJ area airport and/or South Florida, determined in the spring. Our staff will be with you from check-in onward. For our many travelers from outside these areas, you can choose to join the chaperoned flight and we are happy to help you arrange connecting flights at suitable times. If you prefer, you may meet us in San Jose and we will help you coordinate your flight and times and greet you as you come through immigration and customs.
Return Flight Home from San Jose, Costa Rica
For your return from San Jose, we offer a chaperoned flight back to the USA. You may choose to join that flight and arrange transfers (if required) at suitable times after clearing customs and immigration in the USA, or you may fly from San Jose to your home city and our leaders help you check in and remain in the airport until flights in designated times have departed.
Where We Stay
We carefully select clean and comfortable accommodations with the needs of our students in mind. While our volunteer programs do not stay at luxury resorts, we do know that a good night’s rest, in your own bed, is key to performing your service hours well and having enough energy to enjoy the day’s activities. For this reason, and also to maintain the close group bond and to uphold the quality of this program, we do not offer any homestays.
Meals & New Cuisines
Eating well while away from home is an important part of a summer’s success. We understand how it helps our travelers feel secure, happy and looking forward to their day. Part of your travel experience will be immersing yourself in the local cuisine and culture, so please bring with you an open mind and a willingness to try new things. For example, Costa Rican traditional cuisine offers plenty of rice, beans, meat dishes and tons of fresh fruit, but don’t worry, they also have North American style options on the menu.
We have satisfied the choosiest of eaters and gladly accommodate most special dietary requests including vegetarian, anaphylactic food allergies, lactose intolerance, celiac disease, and kosher style. We welcome discussing your individual requirements with you and have extensive experience in this area.
It’s generally okay to drink tap water in Costa Rica, except for a few select areas. As a precaution, we will provide purified drinking water in large containers so that travelers can fill up their reusable water bottles as needed.
We recommend you follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and consult with your physician for current immunizations and medication required for travelers to Costa Rica. These recommendations may change from time to time. We will send you detailed information in March (or upon enrollment if later) regarding the current recommendations for this itinerary.
You will only need one week’s worth of clothing as outlined in the packing list that will be sent to you prior to departure. Every week you will drop off your laundry at a local wash and fold service and then pick it up clean, folded and ready to go.
Included in your program tuition is all lodging, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, recreation & entertainment listed, airport transfers in designated times, gratuities & taxes.
Not included is transportation to and from the program and personal spending money for snacks, souvenirs, and laundry. We also make available optional travel insurance that is not included, but highly recommended.
Please contact us with any questions. We are happy to hear from you!