Summer and Spring Break Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica

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Program Highlight!

A full spectrum of Chinese adventure awaits, as complex as the country itself. Hike the Great Wall of China and experience Mandarin immersion and language classes on our China: Mandarin Service Adventure program!

About

Five unique ecosystems, one adventure. Come join us in Costa Rica to volunteer and learn first hand about conservation. GLA offers multiple Service Learning Adventures in Costa Rica, from animal and environmental conservation, to language immersion, sports, and children programs.

• Spring Break Sea Turtle Initiative: Turn your passion for wildlife conservation into an adventure you'll never forget.
• Animal Rescue Project: Rescue and rehabilitate abandoned and injured animals.
• Spanish Service Adventure: Improve your Spanish skills.
• The Initiative for Children: Take on projects that benefit local youth.
• Empowering Rainforest Communities™: Empower communities that depend on the rainforest to thrive.
• Protecting the Pacific: Volunteer on the Pacific coast.
• Surf & Sports Service Adventure: Share your passion for sports and make a difference.
• The Sea Turtle Initiative: Get up-close and personal with the endangered species.
• Soccer Beyond Borders: Organize soccer camps for kids.

Questions & Answers

This program is incredible! I was able to attend it this past summer and it gave me a whole new perspective. Some tips on saving up for the trip is to start a "Go fund me" account and asking relatives to donate money toward that for birthdays or other holidays instead of giving gifts. Also, I've started putting half of my pay checks into a savings account, which adds up really quickly! If you have...
While in Costa Rica, I felt extremely safe and so did everyone in my group! We were immediately welcomed into the country by our mentors and we found them easily after getting off the plane. In both of the places we stayed, everyone was extremely friendly and confident in what they were doing. Our trip was well planned and organized as well. I never doubted that I was safe which allowed me (and...
In my program, there were 14 girls. Although I was initially worried that there were only girls in my group, it made the trip even better! We had an amazing dynamic and all of us immediately bonded. By the end of the trip, it felt as if I had known those girls my entire life -- not just two weeks. We felt like sisters and there were many tears when we said goodbye. However, we still talk almost...
In Spanish and Service in the Osa we rotated through different projects. We painted the bleachers, helped dig the foundation for a basketball court, organize their library, help to brighten up and plant in their school's garden, and my personal favorite paint a large map of the world (as most of their maps were a little outdated). Not even the overwhelming heat could bring us down we were having...

Reviews

98%
based on 64 reviews
  • Growth 9.7
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.7
  • Housing 9.7
  • Safety 9.9
  • Program Selection 9.7
  • Pre-departure Help 9.8
  • In-program Support 9.7
  • Impact on Student 9
  • Value 10
Showing 1 - 15 of 64
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Anita
10/10

Empowering Rainforest Communities - GLA 2017 trip

This past summer I was fortunate enough to embark on a life changing journey to Costa Rica where I spent 2 weeks living in the rainforest doing service work. This trip taught me so much about myself and about what I want to do with my life. Global Leadership Adventures plays a big role in the impact my service trip had on me. From the moment I stepped off the plane in Costa Rica, GLA’s staff was there to greet me and they continued being incredible throughout the two weeks! After returning home from my Costa Rica trip, I have become more outgoing and stepped outside of my comfort zone so much! One tip I have for future GLA changemakers is to just let go and live in the moment. I would definitely recommend GLA to anyone who is passionate about giving back and being the change!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Katherine
10/10

He is Still Talking About It

Our 17 year old son went to GLA's Sea Turtle Initiative for spring break 2018 to help finish off his volunteer hours required for graduation and he was blown away. He'd already traveled to many countries (10+, many on his own) so we were surprised by the impact. This experience was unlike any he'd previously had in that it was very remote and he was directly involved with the local community while free from the influence of western culture.

The staff was kind, and their genuine concern for the locals and the environment was an eye-opener for our son. He has a new understanding of our impact of humans on Earth and I believe many of the lessons he learned will stay with him for life. He now reminds us to correct our daily habits with regard to conservation and recycling, talks about nature / indigenous populations / wildlife with an educated, informed opinion and sees news headlines under a new light. He is PAYING ATTENTION.

We genuinely believe this program has changed our teen's life. Don't hesitate to send yours.

How can this program be improved?
I can't think of anything needing improvement.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Christina
10/10

The Initiative for Children Volunteer Experience

I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life when I went on the Costa Rica Initiative for Children program through Global Leadership Adventures. Since my sister, who is only a year younger than me, came on the trip with me, my experience was different from most of the students, who came completely alone. Still, traveling to another country with a bunch of strangers seemed scary at first, but our group got in touch before even arriving in Costa Rica (I highly recommend getting in touch before the trip- this helps with packing too) and my nerves eased after meeting our guides and other students. As soon as I sat down with my group at the airport, I was given some local cookies and added into the game of Uno. Our host, Alfredo, provided us with nice housing and fed us very well with traditional Costa Rican food and a variety of local foods, including coffee from Alfredo's own plantations to cheese from a family we met who lived down the street. We also had a lake and dock on the property, which we had plenty of time to swim at. The staff was very flexible and accommodating, such as letting my sister and I get up early and work out (we are intense athletes) before breakfast, and they even offered to take us kayaking on the lake before everyone was up. Our staff I never felt bored on the program and was happily surprised by all the activities we did, since the majority were not in the program booklet. We went zip lining, went horseback riding, rafted down a river, visited a "zoo" with tons of interesting animals I had never seen before anywhere in the States, went to a dog rescue center, went hiking, and much more. However, the friendships I made with both the other kids on the program and the local kids we hosted a summer camp for almost every day are the most valuable part of my trip. We helped clean out and repaint a local abandoned school building and we also held a summer camp for the kids where we taught them English through games and activities. I highly recommend the Initiative for Children program for anyone serious about learning Spanish or anyone who wants to become a teacher or any profession where interaction with kids is involved. I have taken Spanish in school for 13 years and this 14 day trip was the most valuable Spanish lesson ever, since I had to speak Spanish all the time to the local kids. We played soccer, did karate, did arts and crafts, danced, and did leadership activities with the local kids, and spending time with those kids and really immersing myself into another culture in a way I had never done before with my family really opened my eyes to all I can learn from different cultures and helped me realize all the different lifestyles the world has to offer. I also still keep in touch with a majority of the 20+ kids through a group chat, and I know a few members of the group flew from the east coast to California to visit other members. I cried all day in the airport when we left, where we all held hands in a circle and gave each other compliments, our nightly routine back at Alfredo's. I had not anticipated how close our group would become in just 14 days. I highly recommend Global Leadership Adventures for any teen enthusiastic about service (there are so may different programs and there will be at least one for you) and willing to step out of their comfort zone, because the experience is totally worth it.

How can this program be improved?
Our staff was very chill and let us have a ton of fun, however they were not always consistent with the rules and showed favorites at times.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Suzanne
9/10

Satisfied Parent

The summer of 2017, I sent my twins to Costa Rica on the Beachside Service Adventure with Global Leadership Adventures and I could not be more happy that I did. Not only did they have the opportunity to grow as individuals, they grew as part of a group and established lasting connections with their peers. They had a great time and I am so glad I was able to enable their growth! Moreover, the staff was very helpful and understanding. They are very knowledgeable and settled any of my concerns over the phone and made it easy to be a parent sending their child on a life-changing excursion.

How can this program be improved?
I would have liked for the blog to be updated a little more frequently than it was while my kids were abroad.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Michor
8/10

Amazing

I had an amazing time on the Empowering Rainforest Communities trip to Costa Rica with Global Leadership Adventures. Everything from the wildlife to the food to the culture made a memory for a lifetime. My group did struggle with internal relationships, but we worked through hard times together, as our task was mentally and physically challenging. The climate was a rainforest, so it rained a lot... and then some. I wasn’t quite prepared for the humidity and rain, as I am from a dryer climate. But I learned to live with wet clothes. Make sure to keep money or important documents from molding.

How can this program be improved?
More time with the locals maybe.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Abby
10/10

Costa Rica Trip

This past summer, I traveled to Costa Rica with Global Leadership Adventures. I had an amazing time! I met so many new people, experienced a new culture, and went on many amazing adventures. I would recommend this program to all high school students! I truly immersed myself in the community and grew in my Spanish skills too! I met so many amazing friends who I still keep in touch with and visit! I got to go hiking, swimming, zip lining, snorkeling, horseback riding, rafting, and more.

How can this program be improved?
It’s already awesome :)
Yes, I recommend this program
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Madison
10/10

Costa Rica Volunteer Experience

My name is Madison and I participated in the two week animal rescue project in Costa Rica. This was an unforgettable experience of a lifetime! I learned so many new things, met amazing people and had a blast! Before deciding if I was going to go on this trip, I was extremely nervous. I had never been out of the country without my parents before. This was going to be my first time away from my family, and for two whole weeks! This fear quickly went away when I was sitting at the airport waiting for my plane to board and I saw a girl wearing the GLA shirt that I was wearing. I went up to her and we talked about our love for dogs and how excited/nervous we were to go on this trip! When we arrived in Costa Rica we were greeted with our amazing mentors! I will never forget these lovely ladies! They made me feel right at home and I felt prepared to take on the next two weeks. When we arrived at our base, some other kids and I played card games while waiting for everyone to arrive. This was a real bonding experience and we all connected so quickly. Being only 14 at the time, I was the youngest one there but everyone was so kind and included everyone in things. My favorite thing about this trip was the relationships I built with everybody. In fact, everyone on the trip made a group chat and we text each other every day on it! We have maintained a close relationship and I am so glad to have these lifelong friends. The activities we accomplished every day made me feel like I was really making a difference. We helped clean dogs at the shelter, paint fences, pour cement, and much more! After a hard day's work, the mentors took us on amazing "relaxing days". These includes hiking to a beautiful waterfall, going to a hot spring, and learning how to surf. The mentor did a great job of making everyone feel comfortable and they made sure we took advantage of every minute we had together! When we returned to the base at night after working at the animal shelter, we would have team bonding games, movie nights and game nights. These were a blast! I remember one night we were watching Moana and everyone was singing along to the songs! Also, we played charades and more fun singing games. Clearly we had a group that loved to sing very much because when we were on our long bus rides, everyone would sing karaoke together! This was an amazing trip and to anyone who is considering going, I say do it! You will not regret it and you will make lifelong memories!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Lisa
9/10

14 day animal rescue

My 16 year old daughter went on the 14 day animal rescue program last summer. I was hesitant at first since she had never traveled alone. We then found out one of her teammates had done a trip the summer before and she and her mother spoke highly of the experience. I gave in. Jules had the most amazing experience. Everything from the service work, the cultural learning, and of course the friendships. The staff were attentive to the students and Jules expressed that she always felt safe. Jules is a vegetarian and had no problem eating on the trip. The blog posts that were supposed to be 2-3 times a week, were almost daily which was very helpful for a nervous parent. To be able to read and see pictures of what they were doing, how much fun they were having, and how happy everyone seemed eased my concerns. She would have stayed longer if she could have and is already signed up for the upcoming summer for trips to the Galapagos and Thailand.

How can this program be improved?
I can only hope that on her future programs, blogs will happen as often as they did on her first trip.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Albert
10/10

My Daughter's summer trip

Hello, my daughter went on the Costa Rica beach side service adventure trip. Initially, my wife and I were really worried sending her to a foreign country alone. I can honestly say I was very pleased with the way GLA handled everything. I needed to get in contact with her on the trip and they quickly got her to a phone. I felt very confident in the GLA staff and program. I am so excited for her to be going on her next trip this Spring to the Dominican Republic. Thank you GLA!!

Yes, I recommend this program
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brittney
10/10

My experience as a leader

The global leadership adventures is a beyond extraordinary program. I am 17 years old in high school and I wanted to go out and do something new I came upon the program as a basic ad lurking on social medias. I spent hours roaming their website from looking to videos, blogs, and pictures. I decided to enroll into the beachside service program in Costa Rica, Global leadership adventures helped step by step they even had checklist for me ! This team made my experience breath taking, I met people from all over the world, learned to be more independent, and I even keep in contact with my mentor. If anyone is looking to travel abroad I would highly recommend global leadership adventures. The trip impacted my life in so many ways I see the world differently I interact with people differently even myself I learned to be more open and willing in many situations. On GLA trips they make you feel like your at home!

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Maisy
10/10

GLA BSA was awesome!!!

Over the summer I traveled with Global Leadership Adventures to Costa Rica where we stayed for 10 days and did so many fun activities and meaningful service. We were located in Parrita and we worked at a local school and built a playground out of painted tires. Seeing the children happily playing was so life-changing and I am so lucky I was able to help. In Costa Rica I made so many wonderful friends that I still am close with today. Despite being nervous traveling alone to a foreign country, everyone made me feel so comfortable and all my nerves disappeared. The staff at GLA were so helpful and always answered any questions we had. The activities we did were so incredibly fun and thrilling, from zip lining to horse back riding to white water rafting we did such cool adventures. My choice to travel to Costa Rica with GLA was the best decision of my life and my trip was unforgettable.

How can this program be improved?
Since there was 64 people in my group I was unable to connect with everyone. Maybe decreasing the max amount of people per trip!
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Miranda
10/10

Beachside Service Adventure

This past summer, I went to Costa Rica with Global Leadership Adventures. My program was called Beachside Service Adventure and consisted of 10 days in Parrita. There were about 60 people in my group (mostly girls only like 10 boys) and we were split up into mentor groups of like 8-10 ish.

M y group worked with a startup plant nursery which was amazing. We worked with two locals, Nicholas and Mau who's nursery it was, and spent our service time basically hardcore gardening in the rainforest. One day we were clearing the land for the nursery and we got to be super cool with machetes and hack through the jungle brush which was awesome. Other groups did stuff like paint a mural at a school, build a tire playground, plant trees at a farm, build a garden at a school, etc.

One of my favorite parts was our nightly mentor group talks. Since gla does focus a lot on leadership we did discussion groups about leadership in our lives and how we can be a leader in our community and we talked about globalization and the relationship between developed/developing countries and some economics so it was really cool to get kinda a crash course foreign policy and how it applies to us kinda thing. And we totally had to open our minds to new ideas which was cool

Honestly the best part was just being immersed in the culture like eating rice and beans and drinking pineapple juice we ate SO MUCH fruit it was amazing

I thought the GLA people were really cool like every program has to have a native who works as an advisor so we actually had two: one woman who has just finished up in the peace corps and one woman who was from Parrita. They were really organized like being at the airport was stressful at first but once you find the GLA people they take care of you the whole time which was great and my parents weren't stressed at all

I would recommend on program length so I did a 10 day but I would recommend the 14 day ones just cause I really started to form close bonds right as we left and didn't really get the chance to develop those friendships. If you have any interest in the peace corps or mission work it's so great cause a lot of the staff did the peace corps or at least extensive volunteering so you get tons of cool people to ask lots of questions.

If you're nervous about doing GLA I'd definitely recommend the programs in Latin America/Caribbean. I know my parents were a lot happier knowing I was in the same time zone and it was easy to call me and my flight wasn't too bad. Plus it's less of a culture shock than, say, Thailand. I would definitely say whatever program you do, find someone who did that one before because there were a lot of confusing things just cause they can only fit so much in a brochure.

One of the lasting effects of GLA on my life is I feel a lot more down to earth and focused on nature and being in the present and I worry way less about social media or texting or television now which is nice.

-Miranda Wilson, GLA Ambassador

Yes, I recommend this program
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Caroline
10/10

La Pura Vida

This past summer I had the privilege to travel to Costa Rica on the "Beachside Service Adventure" program with Global Leadership Adventures. From the moment I stepped on my plane in Miami to when I stepped back onto American soil, the experience was truly incredible. The adventures were so much fun: zip-lining over the jungle was awesome- so was kayaking through the Atlantic, and there was always opportunity for adventure living steps from the beach and with monkeys (literally) in our back yard. However, the best part of my trip were the relationships I established: I became incredibly close with several other teens on the trip and developed touching relationships with several Costa Ricans involved in our service activity. The ten days I spent in Costa Rica were some of the best ten days of my life and not only would I recommend a Global Leadership Adventures program to another student, I hope to go on another one myself!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Alyssa
10/10

Global Leadership Adventures Costa Rica

My experience in Costa Rica was absolutely amazing. I have changed so much as a person in that I am more open minded and open to trying new things. My experience was made phenomenal because I connected with so many wonderful people. Since GLA I have been more 'go with the flow' (Pura Vida) and certainly have a new perspective on the world around me. I understand that living simply can still yield happiness. My favorite memory was at a bread making class in which it started down pouring as it typically does in the rainforest. Instead of running for cover, Costa Rican children came outside and splashed around with us in the mud to Latin music. This moment was truly eye opening to what is truly important.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Frank-Jan
9/10

Parents take on daughters trip to Costa Rica

It was a big step for us to let our daughter go on her first big foreign trip on her own. However, we were re-assured by the extensive and well planned communication from GLA. We also noticed our daughter being very responsible in all her actions and in preparing for the trip. She really developed and grew as a result of the experience and came back clearly having had the best of times having met so many wonderful friends. She just can't stop talking about her experience abroad. It positively transformed her and I can highly recommend the experience to others. Despite my initial hesitations she had such an amazing time that she's going back this summer to Thailand.

How can this program be improved?
Make it longer
Yes, I recommend this program

About Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)

With a history and heritage in global education, Global Leadership Adventures packs our itineraries with leadership development, volunteering and the delight of taking learning off the beaten path. Our unique program design produces what many...