Immerse yourself in the community and authentic culture of a small rainforest town in Costa Rica as you plan and run a day camp for local children in Arenal. This Costa Rica Community Service trip for teens focuses on opportunities to develop and execute your leadership skills while working with children in a formalized role. As a counselor-in-training on this Costa Rica student trip, you will act as both a camp counselor and activity specialist. You will also explore more of Costa Rica, zip-lining high above the forest canopy, whitewater rafting, surfing the Pacific, relaxing in natural hot springs and much more! An experience with purpose, connection, fun and adventure; it’s the very definition of ‘La Pura Vida”!
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 towards a different culture, new foods and new surroundings.
55 Service Hours
A letter of completion detailing the program's service hours and projects will be issued after the program.
A professional guide accompanies the group to assist, educate and immerse the students into the local culture.
Hotels & Lodge.
Includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.
Includes all recreation & activities listed.
Chartered, air conditioned motor coach with a professional driver.
Up to 24 participants.
• Take on various leadership roles running a children’s camp.
• Learn to surf with professional instructors.
• Create warm relationships with local children.
• Enjoy a thrilling whitewater rafting adventure.
• Develop skill sets as both a counselor and activity specialist.
• Zip-line and hike through the Monteverde Cloud Forest.
• Relax in thermal hot springs in the Arenal Volcano area.
• Enjoy the refreshing waters of Playa Avellanas beach.
Our group will be responsible for organizing all aspects of the daily logistics and activities for a 6-day camp and will take on various leadership roles as planners, counselors and activity specialists. We will plan various activities and games like sports, drama and arts & crafts. There will be about 15-20 children, ages 9-12 years old, coming to camp each day.
Together, our group and the children will share new experiences and learn about each other’s cultures. Everyone will get to practice another language whether it’s Spanish or English. Through the magic of camp, everyone will build special bonds and develop lasting memories!
About Children’s Camp
The Children’s Camp partners with local rural communities and sometimes lower economic schools. They send children who typically wouldn't have access to these types of experiences. Needless to say, the children bring so much energy and enthusiasm to the camp, and everyone is greatly impacted by this experience.
Enjoy a thrilling whitewater rafting adventure! Taste famous and delicious Costa Rican coffee while learning how it’s grown by the Doka coffee plantation.
Relax in thermal hot springs and enjoy the beautiful town of La Fortuna.
There is no better way to experience the unique wildlife in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve than with a thrilling zip-line excursion! Your adventure continues with a hike through the Reserve - how many sloths can you spot?
Get set for surf lessons at Puerto Carrillo, you’ll be on the board in no time! Relax on the beach and kick back in the evening.
Central Valley, Costa Rica
Irazu Hotel is centrally located near downtown San Jose. Amenities include air conditioning, internet access and swimming pool to enjoy.
Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
The wooden bungalows of Villas Josipek are the perfect place to relax after the days of running the day camp. Bungalows have Wi-Fi and there’s a refreshing swimming pool.
Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
Enjoy incredible views of the Cloud Forest while staying in Monteverde at either Monteverde Country Lodge or Hotel Fondavela. All rooms have Wi-Fi.
Puerto Carillo, Costa Rica
Our group will be staying at Hacienda del Mar. Amenities include Wi-Fi, air conditioning and a refreshing swimming pool.
Flight to San Jose, Costa Rica
We offer a chaperoned flight to Costa Rica from South Florida. Based on enrollment, participants from the New York area may also have a chaperoned flight. Final flight details are determined in the spring. For our many travelers from outside these areas, you can choose to connect to the chaperoned flight, or reserve a flight arriving & departing within our flight parameters. Our staff will greet you as you come through customs and immigration.
Return Flight Home from Liberia, Costa Rica
We offer a chaperoned flight back to South Florida. Depending on the geographic group makeup, the chaperoned flight will return to South Florida, New York, or both. For our many travelers from outside these areas, you may choose to join the chaperoned flight and arrange transfers (if required) at suitable times after the group has cleared customs and immigration in the USA; or you may fly from Liberia to your home city and our leaders help you to 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. 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!
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I need to contact my teen during the program?
Participants may bring their cell phones so parents may call and message their kids directly. You may also contact our Communication Centers which serve as the official link between programs on the road and parents. We are staffed every day during the summer and have somebody on call for after hours emergencies ready to assist you 24/7.
Who are the staff and what are their qualifications?
Our staff are educators, guidance counselors, coaches, college and university students, former camp counselors, residence life coordinators, community volunteers, world travelers, and other leaders with diverse backgrounds. Many are former participants themselves who couldn’t get enough of the Westcoast experience! Learn more about our summer leaders.
How are roommates assigned?
Giving everyone a chance to make new friends creates a cohesive group and the warmest and most welcoming social environments in our industry!
On our Active Teen Tours, Global Adventures and Community Service programs, rooming rotation is as follows:
To promote this we’ve found the best system is for the Program Director to assign the rooms for the first and second stops. For the first stop, independent travelers room with other independent travelers and any friends who enrolled can room together. All participants will be assigned a different roommate for the second stop. After the first two stops, choice of roommates is always up to you!
On our Pre-College Enrichment programs & Career Experiences, rooming is as follows:
We assign independent travelers with another independent traveler for the duration of your stay. Any friends who enrolled together can room together.
Roommates are assigned based on gender identity. We welcome all genders, inclusive of those anywhere on the gender spectrum.
On a few programs where we spend an extended period of time at the first stop, participants have the opportunity to rotate after the first two nights.