Location
Multiple Locations +3
  • Panama
  • Costa Rica
  • Belize
Length
4 - 26 weeks
Need-based funding, General grants/scholarships, Payment plans, 529 Plan eligibility, BIPOC funding

Program Details

Activities
Animal Viewing Boating City Exploring Hiking Rafting Remote Exploring Scuba Diving Sightseeing Snorkeling Surfing Swimming
Timeframe
Fall Spring
Housing
Guesthouse Host Family Hostel Hotel
Primary Language
English
Age Min.
17
Age Max
20

Pricing

Starting Price
15500
Price Details
Tuition includes all lodging, meals, and in-country transportation. International airfare and SCUBA E-Learning are additional.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Some Equipment Meals Park Fees Tour Guide Transportation
What's Not Included
Airfare SIM cards Travel Insurance Visa
What's Not Included (Extra)

SCUBA E-Learning

May 18, 2023
Nov 22, 2022
36 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

ARCC’s Central America Gap Program explores some of the most intriguing and majestic regions of Central America. Taking advantage of our deep partnerships, we dive into numerous conservation efforts that include protecting nesting sea turtles, learning about sustainability in Costa Rica's famed Cloud Forest, and conducting marine research on the invasive lionfish on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Shadowing doctors in the Bocas del Toro islands off the coast of Panama, we understand the barriers to medical access for remote indigenous communities. Rafting the pristine Pacaure River, the vibrancy of life in the jungle beckons us in the calls of toucans and howler monkeys. Exploring the underwater life of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, we gain insights into a world rarely witnessed while getting our SCUBA certifications. After experiencing three of the world’s most fascinating, and beautiful nations, we return to the U.S. with broader perspectives and a newfound passion to learn.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

ARCC Programs believes that social responsibility is an essential aspect of our programming and business operations. We strongly believe that cultural immersion, cross-cultural conversations, and reflection on these experiences can increase self-awareness, promote empathy, and foster growth. We recognize that our staff, student, and participant body is not as diverse as we would hope. We also recognize that there are inherent imbalances in access, particularly when it comes to international travel and outdoor experiences. Recognizing the current imbalances and accessibility issues within the world and more specifically within experiential/outdoor education/gap year programs, we are able to move towards a more just and inclusive world.

ARCC is committed to increasing accessibility for our programs and supporting socioeconomic diversity within our community. ARCC’s Voyagers Scholarship provides up to five scholarship opportunities per semester to students who identify within the BIPOC community. These scholarships can range anywhere from $5,000-$8,000, and also includes gear lending and mentorship support throughout the gap year experience. The Voyagers Scholarship can also be combined with ARCC Financial Aid. If you are interested in applying, please reach out to gap@arccprograms.com.

LGBTQIA+ Support

ARCC Programs believes that social responsibility is an essential aspect of our programming and business operations. We strongly believe that cultural immersion, cross-cultural conversations, and reflection on these experiences can increase self-awareness, promote empathy, and foster growth. We recognize that our staff, student, and participant body is not as diverse as we would hope. We also recognize that there are inherent imbalances in access, particularly when it comes to international travel and outdoor experiences. Recognizing the current imbalances and accessibility issues within the world and more specifically within experiential/outdoor education/gap year programs, we are able to move towards a more just and inclusive world.

Neurodivergent Support

Our Essential Eligibility Criteria outlines the requirements for participation in our programs to determine if our programs are a good fit for each student. While ARCC Gap is not a therapeutic program, we do provide an inclusive environment for students with neurodivergence. We have had students with various diagnosed neuro-differences (such as dyslexia, ADHD, ASD, TS, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, etc) find success on our gap semester programs.

During our interview process, we have open communication with students and families about the support ARCC instructors are able to provide students while on program. For students needing some additional support, we ask them to complete a “Plan of Action” with their at home support system. These plans may include additional information about communication/support preferences, coping strategies, and/or specific requirements to encourage the student to engage with the program effectively. Once on the program, our instructors will periodically check in individually with each student, help the student stay accountable to their Plan of Action, and provide general support to all participants.

Accessibility Support

ARCC Gap Travels to locations around the world that have varying levels of accommodations for students needing accessibility support. For this reason, please see our Essential Eligibility Criteria to see if our gap programs are a good fit for you.

Whenever possible (determined by specific location and program - ie. infrastructure, access to specific health care facilities, dietary options available, etc), we have successfully assisted students with anaphylactic allergies, chronic medical conditions, and other accommodations on programs. We recommend that you reach out with specific concerns to your Gap Director to find the right fit for you.

Impact

Sustainability

At ARCC Programs we recognize that all human action impacts our physical environment and the living beings on the planet. Everything on Earth plays a role in supporting life and we believe that it is our responsibility to have a net positive impact with our actions. We strive to balance the impacts of our programming by partnering with communities and organizations with similar goals toward bettering our planet for future generations.

Ethical Impact

ARCC believes that we (as an industry) need to shift the way we think about international service. We (as a society) have now come to realize that international volunteers often benefit from their service experience, while the impact on the community can be short-lived or even harmful. We at ARCC are taking the years of experience that we have in the international service learning realm, have reflected on previous mistakes, learned from our in-country partners, and have made changes. Our goal is to live, work, and learn alongside community members while also making a positive impact. We are committed to partnering with local community-driven organizations to focus on reciprocity while contributing to established long-term projects. It is our responsibility to engage in mutually beneficial community-driven projects and teach fair trade learning principles to our students.

Program Highlights

  • Partner with a Non-Profit Bringing Healthcare to the Indigenous People of the Remote Bocas del Toro Islands
  • Study Spanish During a Week-Long Spanish Immersion School
  • Surf the Waves on Costa Rica’s Stunning Pacific Coast and Raft the Exhilarating Pacuare River
  • Complete your SCUBA Certification and Participate in a Lionfish Eradication in Belize
  • Visit Mayan Ruins and Learn more about Mayan Culture with Local Partners

Scholarships

ARCC Gap Financial Support

A gap year is something that we hope to make accessible for all students and ARCC works to level the playing field so that all applicants may have a successful opportunity for education, travel, growth, and self-discovery post-high school. We strive to uphold these pillars of our organization through a variety of means. Each year ARCC Gap awards financial aid to support students who would otherwise be unable to cover the full cost of tuition. Additionally, ARCC is committed to increasing accessibility for our programs and supporting socioeconomic diversity within our community. ARCC’s Voyagers Scholarship provides up to five scholarship opportunities per semester to students who identify within the BIPOC community. These scholarships can range anywhere from $5,000-$8,000, and also includes gear lending and mentorship support throughout the gap year experience. The Voyagers Scholarship can also be combined with ARCC Financial Aid

Program Reviews

4.94 Rating
based on 16 reviews
  • 5 rating 93.75%
  • 4 rating 6.25%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Housing 4.6
  • Support 4.75
  • Fun 4.9
  • Value 4.85
  • Safety 4.75
Showing 1 - 8 of 16 reviews
Default avatar
Logan
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Arcc

This was a once in a life time experience that I’m so glad I participated in. I meet amazing people and did amazing things. Everyday there was something different. We got to do things and go on adventures I would have never imagined. There was a mix between fun and educational and helpful. We did a lot of activities that include waterfall guides, relaxing on the beach, zip lining, and more. We also learned a lot about the different countries not used from planned lectures but from the different people we met, as well as did a lot of influential work helping communities.

Pros
  • Connections
  • Experience
  • Adventure
Cons
  • Heat
  • Homesickness
  • Sudden change
63 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Zoey
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Centro Caribbean

This experience was life changing. It definitely had its challenges but the cultural immersion I experienced and the impact I had on others lives from the meaningful volunteer work I will never forget. It was also super fun and I got to learn a lot of new skills such as scuba diving and surfing. Amazing culture and and wildlife. These countries were beautiful and the people were so welcoming. I grew so much and am eternally grateful for this experienced thank you ARCC and my amazing counselors !!

Pros
  • Cultural immersion
  • Volunteer work
  • Adventure activities
Cons
  • Not much variety with food
  • Not everything on the packing list was needed
  • Group dynamics sometimes was difficult
63 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Nick
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC Centro Caribbean Review

I had an amazing time on this program! Our two leaders (Ryan and Madison) were amazing; both of them were super knowledgeable, fun, and supportive and really helped make the trip so enjoyable. Our group moved locations about every 5 days, and I loved how faced paced it felt. I had some truly incredible experiences in nature, especially in Costa Rica, where we got to hike and sleep in field stations in the rainforest, go on night patrols looking for sea turtles, and raft down and stay in lodges on the side of the Pacuare river. Our time in Panama was less exciting in my opinion and I sometimes felt that we stayed in one place for too long. However, working with Floating Doctors was an amazing experience. Finally, scuba diving in Belize and spearing lion fish was as fun as it sounds and maybe my highlight of the trip.

One important thing to understand about this trip is that it is very structured. You are with the group 24/7 which means you won't have much alone time but will become super close to everyone in your group. ARCC also has a lot of rules that could sometimes feel unnecessarily restricting, although our leaders gave us freedom where they could.

The activities and group experience this trip provides is seriously a once in a lifetime opportunity. Taking the leap and going on this program has been one of the best decisions I've made, and if you're thinking about doing this program I'm telling you right now you'll have an amazing time.

Pros
  • Meaningful and strong connections built with peers
  • Fantastic and capable group leaders
  • Amazing experiences in nature and with conservation
Cons
  • ARCC rules sometimes felt restricting
  • Not a huge focus on learning Spanish
64 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Gillian
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Centro Caribbean Gap Semester

It is hard to articulate just how incredible and formative my experience on the Centro-Caribbean Gap Semester was. The group leaders (Madison and Ryan) were not only prepared and well-informed, but also incredible friends to everyone in the group. Throughout the program, I sharpened my Spanish skills, learned SO much about conservation and the role I can play in the efforts to protect our planet, and made valuable, life-long connections with those around me. This trip truly changed my life, and I couldn’t recommend it any more (especially to those looking to sharpen up their spanish skills!).

Pros
  • Spanish learning
  • Hands-on conservation work
  • Life-long, incomparable connections with peers and leaders
Cons
  • Some parts of the program were less busy/action-packed than others. We found ourselves a little bored at times.
  • Some accommodations were pretty small and/or not in the best condition.
66 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Lincoln
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC Centro-Caribbean

This program was such a unique and rewarding experience. Each week was a different place, exploring, adventuring, and doing service. I was expecting to go in with more of a backpacking mindset however most of our stays were in beds, with bathrooms ect… Throughout the trip I saw incredible wildlife, made countless friends and ate delicious food. My instructors were wonderful and extremely knowledgeable about everything we did. I would highly recommend this program for ANYONE especially those taking a gap year.

Pros
  • Scuba certification
  • Beautiful beaches and rainforests
  • Lots of personal development
Cons
  • One week sleeping in hammocks(not too bad)
  • Group drama occasionally
64 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Ally
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Center-Caribbean gap semester

This was an amazing experience! The places we visited were beautiful, the people we met were inspiring, and our experiences were unforgettable. Our instructors, Jess and Eli, are amazing at their jobs and made a tremendously positive impact on my experience as a whole. One of my favorite elements about the trip was the ability to try new things and push my boundaries every day. The opportunities I had on this trip were once in a lifetime and I would 100% recommend anyone to take this gap semester!

79 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Christopher
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC Centro-Carribbean

This trip was great! Jess and Eli were awesome. I’m not sure what to write for 400 more characters. It was a really cool trip. All the activities were a good blend of fun and educational. I never had any complaints about the housing, food, or anything of that nature. One of my favorite parts of the trip was receiving my SCUBA certification on a private island in Belize. It really cannot be beat. Panama and Costa Rica were also really cool. We spent some time living in the jungle, which was sweet.

81 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Wynne
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Lovely!!

I definitely recommend this trip!! I learned how to scuba dive, I got better at snorkeling, we explored so much, I learned about so many different communities, and all around had a lovely time. Eli and Jess (the instructors) were like siblings and mentors and friends and I’m so glad we had them on the trip. :-) I really enjoyed our slower moments throughout the trips— ones I spent meditating, stargazing with the group, watching the sunrise, or journaling. It was a fast paced program, so it was really nice to slow down.

Pros
  • Many new friends
  • Conversational Spanish skills
  • Traveling skills
Cons
  • Pretty long trip
  • Sometimes not great living conditions
  • Pretty small group
79 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers