This program is for those who choose the Community Service full day option on our Pre-College Enrichment California Program.
Most people think of Southern California and Los Angeles as celebrity-spotting and gorgeous beaches. But the reality is that SoCal is incredibly polarized, with millions of people living in poverty and “working poverty,” where multiple members of a family are employed but still fail to make a sufficient living. We work with incredible organizations and truly make a difference while managing to catch a little sun, enjoying the UCLA campus and having a great time along the way.
As a participant on this program, you may fly on our chaperoned group flight from the New York area to Los Angeles. Our leaders greet you at the airport and are with you from check-in onward. For the many travelers from outside the New York area, you may fly to LA and be greeted upon arrival and for flights in designated times enjoy complimentary transfer from the airport to our UCLA residence. If you prefer, you may be dropped off directly at our UCLA residence and meet your staff there.
For the 14-day program return from Los Angeles, for flights in designated times, we provide airport transfer and our leaders help you to check-in and remain in the airport until flights have departed. You may also arrange to be picked up at the UCLA residence if you prefer.
The goal of the Boys & Girls Clubs is to provide a positive and enriching space to encourage youth as they grow. Past groups have led programs and activities in all five areas of the club: a technology center, arts and crafts, a gym, a learning center, and a games room. This work was especially rewarding as the participants really developed close relationships with the children at the club. We were quickly sharing lots of hugs and high fives!
Enrich LA is committed to building a garden in every Los Angeles school to give children an opportunity to experience and become educated on the joy and importance of growing, harvesting, preparing and eating simple whole foods. Since 2011, the organization has built, maintained and created educational programs at over 100 schools. Participants will have the opportunity to contribute to this project by building or maintaining a garden at a local school.
Enjoy a world-class college stay at UCLA and take advantage of the incredible athletic facilities and explore nearby Westwood Village. Discover the stars at Universal Studios and CityWalk. Explore Hogwarts castle at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. See Los Angeles’ Hollywood Sign, ride the Ferris Wheel at the Santa Monica Pier and dine at the Hard Rock Cafe. Stargaze on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and match handprints in front of Mann’s Chinese Theater! Soak up the sun, fun and real characters at Venice Beach.
The UCLA campus is so amazing that after your stay here, you might not be able to wait to send in your application. Enjoy their unmatched world-class recreation facilities and sprawling campus situated in one of the most vibrant cities in the world and surrounded by iconic neighborhoods like Beverly Hills & Bel Air. Dorm rooms are double or triple occupancy.
The University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA, is considered as one of the flagship institutions of the University of California with over 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. With approximately 29,000 undergraduate and 14,000 graduate students, UCLA is the largest university in the state of California. UCLA student-athletes compete as the Bruins. The Bruins have won 132 national championships, including 112 NCAA team championships, more than any other university. The Bruins have had at least one competitor in every Olympics since 1920 with one exception in 1924.
At Westcoast Connection nothing else comes first. From our extensive trip planning department through our management team and our leaders, it is our single biggest priority! Safety procedures, equipment – we’ve got it covered. All Trip Leaders and Directors are certified in First Aid and CPR. We are extremely proud of our safety record and welcome all questions you may have in this area. Please see more under Safety First.
Once you are on your trip, you will have sensitive leaders that are caring, approachable and always there for you. Your Trip Director and Trip Leaders are people with incredible backgrounds including teachers, guitar players, IRONMAN triathletes, SCUBA divers, volunteers, and so much more.
Every staff member takes part in and must complete our extensive training weekends that review our philosophy and procedures to provide a well-supervised and fun-filled program.
Our Trip Directors, the individuals responsible for overseeing each itinerary, take on the roles of teachers, coaches, camp counselors, mentors, concierges and hosts. They’ve been trained to provide individual attention and create an all-inclusive family atmosphere (our EACH & EVERY philosophy). There’s a definite art to building dynamic groups, and we’ve worked hard to master it! We want you smiling on day one right through to a teary goodbye at your farewell banquet.
Our leaders are non-smokers. To learn more about our staff, please visit our Summer Leaders section.
We can’t say it enough this is a really incredible group experience. Great dynamics on every program starts with our secrets for group bonding. Our bag of tricks goes way beyond traditional ice breakers. We work hard to get everyone moving beyond first impressions and creating an atmosphere of total acceptance. Our staff hiring and training emphasizes social safety and establishing an inclusive culture. Many of our participants come as individuals and we have a geographically diverse enrollment. This mix helps eliminate cliques at the outset and establish an open environment that benefits you. We take great care in assembling groups to create an unforgettable social experience.
Our community service programs offer you a summer of self-discovery through volunteering, cultural immersion and interaction with populations in need. As participants evolve through the experiential process of service learning, you grow in your understanding of others and of yourself. We know that each individual has something special to offer and wants to give of yourself. We provide the tools and the exposure to people and projects that allow for our group members to take the lead and show us just how much they can accomplish.
We partner with established organizations that have a long history of achieving their goals and integrating teen volunteers into their efforts. Over the years we have built strong relationships with various organizations in the communities we visit who look forward to hosting our groups year after year. The specific service projects that we will work on are finalized in late spring and depend on what is most needed in these communities. Past projects have included building homes with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica, planting sustainable gardens with Children’s Eco Training in South Africa , teaching children to read with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hawaii. Last summer we completed 22,917 hours of service (that’s equivalent to 2.6 years!) in just 8 weeks.
Whether it’s building and planting sustainable food gardens in South Africa or lending a hand by making mud bricks for a community in rural Peru, our community service programs participate in a wide array of meaningful projects on five continents! With the help and direction of our longstanding local partners on the ground, our projects focus on three main themes: infrastructure, education, and environmental sustainability. Check out some noteworthy projects we completed in previous summers to give you a glimpse at how we make our summers count!
Our groups participate in well planned and substantial community service projects in between surfing in Hawaii, rafting in Alaska, zip lining in Costa Rica, climbing to the top of Machu Picchu in Peru, or marveling at the Big 5 on a safari in South Africa. We know when to pick up the pace to get the adrenaline flowing; we also know when it’s time to chill with some downtime on the beach. The balance of service and recreation is what sets our programs apart. By integrating adventure and recreational highlights into our itineraries, we are able to maintain a high level of enthusiasm.
If you come prepared with a positive attitude, you will be ready to embrace the challenges and reap the many rewards of these programs. It takes teamwork, cooperation and leadership to succeed in a service project. You are committing yourself to participate in 6 to 8 hours of service on the days that do have service. By giving it your all, you are sure to enjoy incredible memories. You will receive a letter of completion recognizing 20-70 hours of service (depending on the program) and listing the projects you helped to complete.
Westcoast Connection is a Certifying Organization for the President’s Volunteer Service Award. The award program was developed in 2003 as a way to honor and thank U.S. citizens and residents who engage in service both domestically and abroad. Presidential recognition of what you have achieved speaks to the type of person you are and hopefully inspires others to take positive action to change the world. The award requires completing 100 hours of community service within a 12 month period. Your service hours with our program qualify towards that total to earn the award.
As you travel to new places and experience different cultures, your journey may challenge your ideas and preconceived notions. We recognize this and strive to provide an environment where you are free to question and learn. This is nurtured by our leaders’ open and non-judgmental guidance. The opportunity for growth through service learning is endless!
Our experience lends itself to trying new things and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. While living, working and learning together, you are afforded the chance to interact with very different communities. Everybody grows in their social acceptance of others. Your perception will change as your understanding of and empathy for others grows. Whereas prior to your travels, you may have held stereotypes for some disadvantaged communities, your new first-hand experience will enable you to see we often share more in common with others than we may have known.
There really is a difference in how different summer programs operate! Motivated teens going away with qualified leaders is a given. But what sets us apart is the depth of our qualified personnel that allow us to perform with the greatest consistency at the highest level.
Your Trip Director and Trips Leaders are with you throughout your program. They have daily contact with one of our two 24-hour Communication Centers and are in regular contact with our Company Directors. Our Company Directors are the most seasoned veterans who each oversee specific programs providing support to trip staff and to assist with any situations that may arise. Our Company Directors alternate between traveling to visit programs and being reached in the office. Program visits enable us to provide ongoing support and development to our Trip Directors, allows trip staff to have a sounding board for their own progress in reaching trip goals, helps us to identify any challenging areas for improvement while it still has relevance to your summer rather than as a mention on your end-of-summer survey, and helps us to identify the future Directors from the current crop of all-star summer staff. These visits are by Company Directors along with our Regional Supervisors, who are former Trip Directors with further experience out in the field. Collectively our team is an incredible resource with 420+ summers of combined teen travel experience. This way, we can lend a hand wherever and whenever a little extra effort is called for. Last year, we had 205 scheduled supervisory trip visits to make sure all was running well, provide ongoing support to our staff in the field, and have fun! This investment in depth of personnel is unrivaled in teen travel and is a critical element to achieving consistent, excellent program quality and surpassing client expectations!
Included in the trip tuition are all activities and entertainment described, breakfast & dinner daily, lunches as indicated on your specific program, gratuities, taxes, land transportation, accommodations, and fanatical customer service from our full-time team and summer Communication Centers. This can add up to tremendous value!
A big part of your program’s success depends on how well you eat. We are proud of the fact that year after year we are complimented for our quality, quantity and choice of food! Breakfasts on this program is served at the UCLA cafeteria. For lunch, you enjoy the choice of eating in smaller groups and choosing from small restaurants or the UCLA cafeteria. Dinner is either at the UCLA cafeteria, or at restaurants. Food options are varied and plentiful.
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 personal experience in this area.
You will travel to off campus courses or excursions by passenger van or school bus while in Los Angeles.
You only need to bring one week’s worth of clothing as outlined in our packing list as we have the opportunity for laundry weekly.
On our programs within the United States, we will supply the detergent and dryer sheets. Don’t worry if you’ve never done laundry before, many of our travelers have not either. We’ll walk you through the Westcoast Connection laundry lesson and in no time at all you’ll have the hang of it.
While you’re out having the summer of your life, your parents should feel like they are in on the action as well. We post updates to our blog and Facebook page and e-mail photos approximately once a week so those at home can be in on the fun. Parents also have access to our dedicated office Trip Monitors 24/7 for any questions and/or concerns. We’re as in touch as any trip operator could possibly be via smartphones with e-mail and text. The goal is uncompromising safety and peace of mind, day after day, hour by hour, minute by minute. Participants may bring their personal cell phones.
In last summer’s surveys, 98% of responding teens and parents said they would recommend us to others. We must be doing something right!