Peru is one of the most spectacular and geographically diverse countries in the world. From exploring the Amazon Jungle to kayaking on sacred Lake Titicaca at 12,500’ in the Andes, and to sand boarding and dune buggying in the desert oasis of Huacachina, we experience it all! Of course there is our fascinating visit to the ancient archaeological treasure of Machu Picchu! But above the beauty and history are the community service with friendly Peruvians who greet us warmly and welcome us as we interact with local children to make this a most meaningful and memorable summer!
Participants on this program have the option of joining us on a chaperoned group flight to Lima. The chaperoned flight will be from either Miami and/or Newark, determined in the spring once we see the cities of origin of the group. Our staff will be with you from the time you check-in onward. For our many travelers from outside these areas, you can choose to join the chaperoned flight and we are happy to assist you with arranging connecting flights into Newark or Miami as the case may be. If you prefer you may meet us in Lima and we will help you coordinate your flight and times and greet you as you come through immigration and customs.
For your return from Lima, 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 the group has cleared customs and immigration in the USA; or you may fly from Lima to your home city and our leaders help you to check-in and remain in the airport until flights in designated times have departed.
We will spend time with the community members of Belen where we will work together to help improve the school for its students. Painting, landscaping and other beautification projects will make their learning environment a little more welcoming.
Here you will help beautify a community’s school as well as play with the local children and interact with their families.
Meet and work alongside members of the local Huaran community making adobe bricks. The adobes will be used to improve the elementary school.
Bring cheer to the children of a local orphanage. In the past, we painted a classroom and dorm rooms. We have also interacted with and played with the children while establishing a special connection.
You’ll join the local community to preserve these treasured man made wonders by helping to lay reeds. You’ll also learn how these people live, prepare their meals and farm while living in the middle of the lake.
We will assist in the orphanage by helping with work around the facility to beautify the space that these children learn and play in. Following our projects, we will enjoy time befriending the boys and girls who live there.
By creating green spaces and assisting with other projects, the teachers and community members can focus on meeting the needs of the students and not just completing tasks each day. The opportunity to build special connections with the students will be made more meaningful as we join them in games of volleyball, soccer, and basketball.
Welcome to Peru’s capital and largest city! There is no better city to begin our adventure. The highlight of our Lima city tour is the Catacombs at San Francisco.
Keep your eyes open for exotic wildlife such as giant otters, monkeys and toucans. Enjoy a nocturnal boat excursion through the Amazon while spotting caymans.
Whitewater raft the Urubamba River, tour narrow cobblestone streets, horseback ride outside of the city, and explore this ancient Inca capital from Sacsayhuaman to the Plaza de Armas.
Travel by train to the Incan ruins and UNESCO World Heritage site of Machu Picchu, one of the seven man-made wonders of the world. Surely Peru’s most famous and important attraction and one that is likely to leave you breathless.
Lake Titicaca is one of the highest altitude lakes in the world. Kayak near the floating islands of Uros constructed entirely of reeds by local islanders. Enjoy kayak races against the islanders before we depart this unique community.
Arequipa, surrounded by 3 snowcapped volcanoes (Misti, Chachani and Pichu Pichu), is Peru’s second largest city. It is well known for its glistening white buildings made from sillar, a white volcanic rock, which gives the city its nickname ‘La Ciudad Blanca’ or ‘The White City.’ Enjoy lively pedestrian street markets, stylish boutiques, nightlife and an upbeat pulse of city life that best shows modern Peru.
Huacachina is a small oasis surrounded by towering sand dunes nestled next to a picturesque lagoon. Be thrilled while sand boarding and enjoying dune buggy rides on the Grand Sand Dunes.
Your farewell stay is in the chic Miraflores neighborhood overlooking the Pacific. At your final banquet, look back with pride at all you have accomplished and how you have grown together as a tight knit group during your time exploring the wonders of Peru.
Welcome to Lima! Enjoy your first two nights in the Peruvian capital at a few carefully selected hotels. Properties include La Castellana and Britania Miraflores. Amenities at all hotels include air conditioning and internet access.
This hotel is the perfect place to prep before we head in to the jungle and to relax after. The hotel has Wi-Fi, an outdoor pool and is a great jumping off spot to explore markets & the main square.
Surrounded by the Amazon Jungle, it’s not uncommon to spot exotic wildlife. Experience the rainforest with indigenous guides and unwind in a hammock surrounded by a lush tropical setting. The lodge is outfitted with mosquito nets and showers, and the staff is extremely friendly and attentive.
The hotel is located in the picturesque village of Ollantaytambo, 100 meters from the archaeological center of town. Rooms have comfortable beds, private bathroom, and Wi-Fi.
As you explore Machu Picchu, you will stay at Marco Wasi which has Wi-Fi, clean & comfortable rooms and very friendly staff. This hotel is a short walk to restaurants and markets.
While in Cusco you will relax at the Hotel Cahuide. This hotel boasts welcoming rooms with cable TV and WiFi. The hotel is within walking distance to the vibrant city center.
You’ll relax and relive the amazing experience of kayaking Lake Titicaca at the Casona Plaza Hotel. All rooms have a safe, Wi-Fi and TV.
Casona Plaza Hotel Arequipa features a rustic décor and a great central location (just 3 blocks from the main square). Rooms feature free WiFi.
Welcome to Huacachina where you’ll experience the amazing sand dunes. We’ll check in to El Huacachinero where you are able to rest, relax and use the swimming pool in this gorgeous oasis. All rooms have Wi-Fi.
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 too many times, this is a really incredible group experience. A great dynamic starts with our secrets for group bonding. Our bag of tricks goes way beyond traditional ice breakers. Imagine people hunts, Rock, Paper, Scissors championships, Ninja tournaments, flash mobs and so much more. 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 travelers come as individuals and we have a geographically diverse enrollment with students joining us from across the U.S., Canada and internationally. 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 international service programs are for up to 24 group members.
Our service projects can change from one year to the next as we adjust to the needs of the local communities and the guidance of our service partners. This way, our service hours have the greatest impact and move forward the projects with the greatest priority. We also focus on service-learning throughout the process, where education and reflection are key to enriching these experiences for all.
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 five main themes: community welfare, youth leadership, environmental sustainability, infrastructure, and wildlife conservation. 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, snorkeling in the Galapagos, 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.
Volunteer with experienced nonprofit organizations and alongside the locals who often directly benefit from your help, as you become part of a team working towards a common goal. Everyone’s contribution and cooperation are so important to help the service projects progress as planned, so please join us with the right expectations and a positive attitude. The rewards in sharing this experience are many, such as lasting friendships, improved interpersonal skills and personal growth. 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!
Of all our summer programs, community service provides the greatest opportunity to interact with the local people and culture. Being exposed to families and children who have different customs and daily realities can broaden our perspective and raise our awareness of important issues. In a multicultural world, this education can break stereotypes and help us understand the role we play as global citizens.
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!
We provide clean and comfortable accommodations. Please don’t expect luxury resorts and at the same time we know you need a good night’s rest to perform community service as well as have energy for our many other included activities. For quality and consistency of the group experience, we do not have any homestays. Each student has their own bed. For more detailed information on any specific program, visit the section marked Where We Stay.
A big part of a 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 and quantity of food and variety of options. Meals vary by destination. 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, in Peru the food will be a mix of “typical food” including chicken, beef and of course ceviche, and pachamanca are great local options. They also have North American style options on the menu. In Peru, we recommend against drinking the local tap water and we provide clean water for our travelers.
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. International travel may present more challenges than domestic locations and we are happy to review your personal needs and help you select an appropriate itinerary.
On this community service program, you’ll ride in an air conditioned motor coach with a professional driver.
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 international programs, 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.
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!