Make Kefalonia’s beautiful capital city of Argostoli your home while working with like-minded peers in an effort to protect the island’s sea turtle population. Healthy oceans need sea turtles to help maintain their complex ecosystem. Every day will be different as you cycle to and from morning survey shifts at nesting beaches and assess hatchling tracks. Afternoons and evenings will be just as hands-on and unique with harbor patrol, hatchling rescue and collecting light pollution data. There is so much to be done as you help to protect this endangered species.
For participants on this program, we help you coordinate your flight times and greet you upon arrival in Kefalonia. For your return flight from Athens, our leaders help you to check-in and remain in the airport until flights in designated times have departed. Depending on the number of students from the New York area we may offer a chaperoned flight home.
Wildlife Sense is a research and conservation organization dedicated to the study and protection of Kefalonia’s endangered loggerhead sea turtles. Take part in science-based research and hands-on conservation projects dedicated to protecting these amazing animals. You’ll get hands-on field research experience while studying and monitoring the sea turtles’ native coastal habitats and protect successful nesting locations while recording the hatching events.
Kayak the crystal-clear Mediterranean waters of the Ionian Sea to a pristine, exclusive beach and enjoy a traditional Greek meal. Cool off in the beautiful waters of Xi beach and exfoliate with the abundant natural clay. Explore the harbor villages of Kefalonia such as Agia Efimia, Sami, and Lixouri. Marvel at the Sacred Monastery of Agios Gerasimos. Experience the Drogarati Cave & boat ride through the underground lake of the Melissani Cave.
Venture to the heart and soul of Greece and its capital city of Athens. Marvel at the astounding architectural feat of the Parthenon and Acropolis. See Aphrodite amongst her friends in the New Acropolis Museum just down the hill from where she used to live. Wander through the streets of the Plaka area filled with shops and markets with something for everyone.
Ideally located just minutes from WildLife Sense headquarters, and surrounded by multiple nesting beaches, Ammes rooms have air conditioning, kitchenettes, and WIFI. This seaside hotel is walking distance to local restaurants and includes a pool with spacious sunny veranda and plenty of space to relax.Visit Website
This modern hotel is situated in the renowned region of Plaka just minutes away from the new Acropolis Museum and right at the foot of the entrance to the Acropolis. Enjoy this residential location of Athens, surrounded by small art museums, cafes, and galleries.Visit Website
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 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.
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 your hours of service and listing the work 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 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 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.
Sea turtles are most active at night. When the sun is down, female sea turtles come out of the water to build nests and lay eggs on the beach. Hatchlings also wait until night to emerge from the nest; this reduces exposure to daytime predators. Valuable light pollution data can also only be collected during the night. For these reasons, for 1-2 nights during your program you will sleep on the beautiful beaches of Kefalonia to monitor these overnight events. Bring a sleeping bag, sleep under the stars, and witness truly incredible nocturnal activity.
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.
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.
Bicycle is one of the main modes of transportation our groups use to get around Kefalonia. This is the most environmentally conscious way for us to explore the island and help protect wildlife habitats. Participants need to be competent cyclists, with the ability to ride between 15 minutes to an hour at a time, to travel from the hotel to and between nesting beaches. For example, participants could ride 30 minutes from the hotel to the first beach site, spend 45 minutes on the beach conducting research, ride 15 minutes to the next beach, spend 1 hour on the beach, etc. Times vary depending on the morning shift locations. Total cycling time will vary from 1 to 3 hours almost daily, with the average being 1.5 hours. The terrain is paved roads, mostly flat with some rolling hills. Proper footwear required is sneakers or sport sandals with a heel strap and recommended toe covering. Helmets & reflective vests are provided.
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.
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!