Summer and Spring Break Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica

Video and Photos

Costa Rica- Global leadership adventures
Costa Rica- Global leadership adventures
The mural we painted at sardinal sur and what it looked like when the second group finished it
The mural we painted at sardinal sur and what it looked like when the second group finished it
sunset at the beach by our home base
My daughter with friends in Costa Rica
After hiking to see a hot spring!
Me and two of my closest friends from my trip enjoying a gorgeous Costa Rican sunset.

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™
• Protecting the Pacific: Volunteer on the Pacific coast.
• Surf & Sports Service Adventure
• The Sea Turtle Initiative: Get up-close and personal with the endangered species.
• Soccer Beyond Borders: Organize soccer camps for kids.

Program Highlight!

The ancient Inca Empire is yours to discover while making a difference in the lives of rural families on our Peru: Service in the Sacred Valley™ program.

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 66 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 31 - 45 of 66
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Lindsay
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life-changing experience: Costa Rica Beachside Service

I went on the beachside service adventure program in Costa Rica this summer, and it was an amazing experience. I was assigned to a service project that involved helping a community build a bridge so the children's walk to school would be more than cut in half, as the river we helped build a bridge over swelled up in the rainy season. The trip changed my perspective, and I went without knowing anyone else, so it really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I got to play basketball with local teenagers, go swimming in the ocean at sunset, make new friends, try to make costa Rican style art, visit an animal sanctuary, a natural hot springs, and so much more. Everyone on the staff was so kind, on one of the last nights they all shared personal stories about how they ended up volunteering abroad, and they were all so inspiring.

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Terri
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

For the parents

Sending my 16 year old daughter out of the country on her own (without knowing anyone who would be there) was a daunting and slightly terrifying experience. Yet, she wanted to go so badly. She wanted to "see the world" and do some good for others. We did our research and settled on Global Leadership Adventures, a 10 day trip to costa Rica.

It was a growth experience for all of us. We learned to let go and trust others to take care of our chid (which they did wonderfully). She grew in countless ways- independence, maturity, empathy, seeing a hard days work pay off (they helped build a bridge to shorten the walk to school for local children). She saw the world from a whole new perspective, met interesting and caring people, had adventures and gained valuable experiences she never would have staying close to home.

After she returned, she was so excited to share her experiences and we were so glad we made the decision to let her go. We highly recommend GLA and the volunteering abroad experience.

Response from Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)

Thank you for trusting GLA! Safety continues to be our #1 priority so parents like you can have peace of mind while students go abroad to volunteer, pursue new passions and develop their leadership skills.

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Isabel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Global Leadership Adventures (Costa Rica-Beachside Service)

This was the first service trip I've ever done and the first time I've traveled out of the country by myself. Although the experience was daunting, this was the most rewarding experience I've ever been able to take a part in. Global Leadership Adventures though of each detail to a tee and the service was equally as exciting as the excursions. We spent long days mixing concrete and painting benches but the service was all so worthwhile and afterwards we were rewarded with dips in the gorgeous ocean across from our home base. The best part of the trip however was the people I met, without this trip I don't think I would have ever been able to meet people as special as the ones I met. And the best part was that we were able to make lasting memories with one another like snorkeling, horse back riding and jumping off rocks near a gorgeous waterfall. I am still friends with most of the people from the trip and I am so thankful to the program for bringing them into my life.

What would you improve about this program?
Personally the only way this program would have been better for me is if it were longer! Luckily though, Global Leadership Adventures has numerous other programs around the world for longer times.
Sophie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Spanish and Service in the Osa- Coolest Trip I've Ever Been On!

When I asked my mom this past summer if I could go to a Spanish language camp, I expected I would be going to classes at my local college for a week. So when she found this Global Leadership Adventures program, we were both ecstatic. I was so nervous because I had never traveled alone before or to a Spanish speaking country. I really shouldn't have been because it was the smoothest traveling experience I've ever had. GLA finds flights for you and has a representative meet you at the airport so there is nothing to worry about. As soon as I met the staff, I was instantly welcomed along with the other students. Throughout the two weeks session they were kind and attentive, but they also gave me responsibilities and challenged my skills to help my Spanish. The most amazing part of this trip however, was the connection I made with the community. Every single day I got to live among the residents of the beautiful Rancho Quemado. These were the happiest, warmest, most generous people I have ever met. They were extremely patient with me as I struggled to be grammatically correct and included me in every conversation and game of soccer. Although the community service I did left an impact on the community, they left a much bigger impact on me. I learned to incorporate more gratitude into my daily life, to enjoy the little things. I still think of the friends I made every day. Not to mention I am now the smartest student in my Spanish class!

What would you improve about this program?
Although we did receive a Spanish lesson at the beginning of the trip, it would have been a little more useful if it was more formal.
Anya
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

GLA Spanish and Service in the Osa: A Life Changing Trip!

My time in Rancho Quemado was unforgettable and life-changing. I went in to the two weeks by myself not knowing what to expect, but from the second I walked out of the airport in San Jose I was immediately greeted with great enthusiasm and excitement from the mentors. This program really stood out to me in that Rancho Quemado reached out to GLA for help rather than the other way around, the way it often is. From this, I truly felt accepted by the community. We were living in their hostels, hiking on their trails, eating their food, and learning about their culture: all of which they were ecstatic to show us. One of my highlights of the trip was playing in the towns daily "majengas", or street soccer games. This really allowed me to communicate with the village members, from 2 year olds to 60 year olds. Other than the community service aspect of the trip with building a library and helping with a garden and recycling project, we learned and improved our knowledge of sustainable tourism and its importance as well as Spanish. This trip and the people I met along the way (from the US and Costa Rica!) has impacted me to become more appreciative of the world and its people. I would 100% suggest this trip to anyone wanting to learn Spanish, support a community, and to have an amazing time doing so.

What would you improve about this program?
This is not controllable but you are in the middle of the rain forest, so pack bug spray accordingly!
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Emma
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica Experience

When I came across GLA online the first thing that stood out to me was the emphasis on connections with the local community that you would be spending your time with. This was one of the most important things to me when choosing a program. Besides that the idea of visiting the Osa Peninsula was new and unique and appealed to me in every way. The preparation for the trip felt very organized and there were contacts always available to answer any questions my family or I had about the trip. The travel went smoothly and I was promptly met with a mentor at the airport. Throughout my time spent in Costa Rica I felt fully supported by every mentor, always felt safe, and most of all was able to build life long friendships and create incredible memories. The program's strong emphasis on Spanish, service, and community relationships was able to motivate students to put themselves out of their comfort zones and learn to their greatest ability. The most valuable thing for me was that everyone on the trip or living in the town was passionate about learning of new cultures and interacting with brand new people. I learned more Spanish and was able to gain new work ethic during the community service portion of the trip. Overall my trip to Costa Rica opened my eyes and changed my life. I am coming out of the experience with amazing friends and I will never forget the incredible experience.

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing that could be adjusted was the fact that we were doing service only with your living groups, although spending time with them was great it would have been fun to do service as a whole program to have the opportunity to work with other people as well.
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Nicole
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best 10 days of my life!

During the summer of 2015, my friend and I went on the GLA Costa Rica Beachside Service Adventure for 10 days. This was one of the most amazing things I have ever done and I will never forget this experience. When I went, I did travel with my friend but you really don't need to. So many people came alone and everyone became so close so fast that it didn't even matter who came with who. I met people that I know I will keep in touch with for a long time and we still meet up and talk all the time. Advice I would give to people who are thinking about this trip is to show up with an open mind and be ready to try different things because I am from NY and the culture there is so different. Also, you really don't need as many clothes as you think you do so there is no need to overpack. The only thing I would say to bring extra of is T-shirts. During service they might get dirty and since there is no wash your best bet would be to have extras. I would definitely say to bring granola bars with you or just foods to snack on because sometimes after service or during free time I would get really hungry. Although I can't pick one favorite part of my trip, I would have to say two of my favorite things I did were the zip lining on one of the adventure days, and going into the town and experiencing the culture. When I was there it was Guanacaste's Independence Day so there was a HUGE festival going on in the heart of the town so that was so much fun. Overall, the mentors are the coolest people you will ever meet and they always have an answer to your questions. If you leave something at home they will find a way to get what you need or you can borrow from someone else because the environment is so kind and caring and everyone is nice to one another. I would 100% recommend this trip! You will make memories for a life time.

What would you improve about this program?
I loved every part of this trip and I wouldn't change a thing.
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Maria
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Protecting the Pacific

last summer I volunteered abroad global leadership adventures protecting the pacific program in costa rica and I'd have to say it was one if not the best experience I've ever had, I learned so much and met so many incredible people I will never forget, Costa Rica is absolutely beautiful and the people are extremely nice, it really was the best summer. I'm looking forward to volunteering abroad Global Leadership Adventures agin soon.

What would you improve about this program?
the length, it was too short I wish I could have stride longer.
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Maisy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Global Leadership Adventures is an excellent organization.

My service trip to Costa Rica through Global Leadership Adventures was for ocean conservation. One of our days was spent doing half a day of beach service and then the other half learning how to surf. After cleaning up the beach and working to prevent erosion, which was much fun and informative in itself, we got to try an exciting activity that was new for most of us: surfing. Being able to be in the Pacific and surf was an indescribable experience and the surfing instructors were passionate and excited about their jobs, which made the experience that much more fun for us. I think that dual-day of service and fun really describes Global Leadership Adventures; it's a program that is all about being passionate about service, but also about experiencing cultures of different countries. Any trip with GLA is one of a lifetime that will leave you with lasting phenomenal memories.

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Lauren
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Trip to Costa Rica

I went on Global Leadership Adventures Initiative for Children, in Costa Rica and it change my perspective on everything. It broaden my perspective on how others in the world. I was able to see first hand how volunteering helped people. I gained a new respect for nature and the country of Costa Rica. Because of this amazing program I take the "Pura Vida" lifestyle everywhere I go. I have gained amazing friendships with people from all over. I have done things I never would have imagined from hiking to a beautiful waterfall, zip lining over tree tops, to surfing on the gorgeous Costa Rican coast. GLA is an amazing opportunity, I encourage everyone to seize it.

What would you improve about this program?
The program was awesome. I have no changes.
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Tess
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Awe-Inspiring Experience In Costa Rica

I went on this trip not having any clue as to what to expect. It was the first time this program (Spanish & Service in the Osa) had ever been done before. How could I have possibly known I was about to have the most incredible experience of my life? Everyone on the trip was lively on friendly, including the mentors. Their role may have been mentors but we were all enjoying the new and exciting scenery and adventures equally; as it was their first time seeing all of the things as well. The people in the town welcomed us with open arms and were very understanding of our developing spanish skills. Enjoying the culture of Rancho Quemado and eating the local cuisine was one of my favorite parts. Our time doing community service made me feel helpful and put me in touch with some of the needs of smaller communities. In addition to our everyday community service and tours to parts of the area, we took a weekend excursion that was amazing! We kayaked up a river, swam to our hike, hiked to multiple waterfalls, and then it began to rain making the experience a thousand times better. Being in the rainforest in Costa Rica, standing next to a waterfall while water pours down is what I consider a perfect moment.

What would you improve about this program?
There were a ton of mosquitos, unfortunately that aspect is uncontrollable. Instead I offer the advice of bringing a lot of bug spray, for any trip to Costa Rica.
Elizabeth
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Truly Life-changing Experience

GLA allowed me to have a rare life changing experience; the two weeks I spent in Costa Rica were the most amazing and genuinely unforgettable weeks I have ever had. My eyes were opened to another country and I was totally immersed in its culture and language. We actually got to know the locals as we helped rebuild their schools and reforest their land, forming real relationships with them. The service projects we participated in had remarkable effects on the community and feels so good to know that we had a positive impact. At the end of my program, one man spoke to a group of us and generously thanked us for everything we did; it was a heartwarming experience I will remember forever. I also formed strong friendships with all of the other teens who were in Costa Rica with me. In fact, we still talk almost every day. Within only a few days, it felt as if all of us had known each other for weeks. Without GLA, I never would have met such strong leaders who helped challenge me to develop my own leadership skills. Our mentors were also one of the highlights of the trip. We talked daily about how this experience affected our previous beliefs and we were given a great amount of instruction, advice, and guidance from our mentors.
From playing on the beaches to zip lining upside down through the rainforest to planting hundreds of trees, I learned myself as well as our planet while in Costa Rica and these experiences have affected my life in more ways than I ever though they could. I am so grateful I had this opportunity and wish I could relive the entire experience!

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Sunaina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

GLA Csta Rica Sports Adventure

GLA Costa Rica sports adventure trip was one of the best trips I have ever taken. The program provided top of the line housing and staff. I met so many people that I know will be life long friends. Experiencing the culture and meeting the locals was life changing. It changed my whole perspective of the world.

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Ethan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

GLA Spanish Service Adventure

My adventure in Costa Rica was, without a doubt, one of the best experiences in my life. The three weeks were a perfectly constructed concoction of work, education, and fun(don't worry, they were mainly fun). Almost every weekday involved work early in the morning with the community. Sometimes the work was hard, but it was extremely fulfilling and it was never boring. We planted coffee plants, fertilized the land they were grown in, made bokashi(manure), mixed cement to make sidewalks and stairways, and stuffed eco-bricks. Every day, after lunch, the moms from the communities would make us delicious, authentic Costa Rican food. Usually we would return to home base for Spanish lessons- and several times these were held in the city, so we could unleash our newly learned Spanish skills on the natives. There were group activities every night that made sure we were introduced quickly and were all close friends within days. Every weekend, we were given a break from Spanish lessons and the community work and were instead taken on awesome excursions. The trip definitely changed my view on the world and was a great way to spend part of my summer, I wish there had been a way to extend my stay.

My only regret about the trip was having to leave all of the people I had grown so fond of during my stay and knowing I wouldn't see many of them again.

What would you improve about this program?
I honestly can't think of any way to improve upon the experience.
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Ursula
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

PURA VIDA.. ITS A LIFESTYLE

In June of 2015 I was part of Sports Service Adventure in Costa Rica with the organization GLA. From the minute we got into the village we were greeted with warm hellos from everyone. Pura vida.. it's a lifestyle. It's the way were welcomed and made to belong.
We had locals cook us amazing meals to get us all set for our hard day at work. Even though we worked really hard everyday we always had a fun activity to end the day off. The best part of this trip was feeling like you're a part of something great and knowing that you are changing the world. It was amazing to see the children so happy all the time. We were honoured to go play some soccer with the local kids and they were amazing, they're love for the game unreal and their playing was impeccable. I met some amazing people that I will never forget for the rest of my life. This experience has changed me in so many good ways. I am now so grateful for what I have and wanting to make a difference in the world. . Definitely the most amazing thing I've ever done.

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing i would change would be that we would not be allowed access of internet.