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 Monteverde. This experience offers a specialized avenue to work with children in a formalized role. You will develop and execute leadership skills acting as both a camp counselor and activity specialist. Outside of camp, explore Costa Rica, zip-line high above the forest canopy, whitewater raft, surf the Pacific and relax in natural hot springs.
Participants on this program have the option of joining us on a chaperoned group flight to San Jose. The chaperoned flight will be from either a NY/NJ area airport and/or Miami, 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 at suitable times. If you prefer, you may meet us in San Jose and we will help you coordinate your flight and greet you as you come through immigration and customs.
For your return from Liberia, 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 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.
EcoPaz Park is a non-profit recreational space located in the rainforest town of Monteverde. The children of Monteverde and the surrounding villages do not have many opportunities and shared-spaces to participate in fun, organized activities. EcoPaz Park was built in hopes of creating a shared space for the children of Monteverde and the surrounding communities to come together. Our camp was created in partnership with EcoPaz Park to provide engaging programming for these children.
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 20-30 children, ages 6-12 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!
Help rejuvenate the local forest by planting trees under the supervision of a local guide. Also, protect growing plants from invasive species and plant coffee plants at this local co-op.
Enjoy a thrilling whitewater rafting adventure! Join a Latin dance class. Taste famous and delicious Costa Rican coffee while learning how it’s grown by the comic troupe at Café Britt.
Relax in thermal hot springs and experience a thrilling zip-line adventure over the forests in Arenal.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is home to unique wildlife. Discover some of these species as we hike through the lush forest. Challenge the locals to a game of soccer!
Get set for surf lessons at Tamarindo Beach, you’ll be on the board in no time! Relax on the beach and kick back in the evening by a bonfire on the beach.
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.
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.
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.
Our group will be staying at one of the following carefully selected hotels near Flamingo Beach: Hotel Casas del Toro Hacienda, Hotel Cabinas Isolinas, Hotel Nany or Seis Playas Hotel. Amenities at all hotels include air conditioning, internet access and a swimming pool to enjoy.
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 Program 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 program, you will have sensitive leaders that are caring, approachable and always there for you. Your Program Director and Program 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 Program 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.
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 Program Director and Program 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 program 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 Program Directors, allows program staff to have a sounding board for their own progress in reaching program 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 Program 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 208 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 program 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, 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. In Costa Rica, 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 Program Monitors 24/7 for any questions and/or concerns. We’re as in touch as any program 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!