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 62 reviews
  • Growth 9.7
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.7
  • Housing 9.7
  • Safety 9.9
  • Program Selection 9.5
  • Pre-departure Help 10
  • In-program Support 9.8
  • Impact on Student 9
  • Value 10
Showing 46 - 60 of 62
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Vinith
10/10

Protecting the Pacific: 2014

I participated in the Costa Rica Protecting the Pacific program in August of 2014. This experience not only allowed me to participate in meaningful humanitarian work, but also allowed me to immerse myself in the unique atmosphere of Costa Rica. The program was the correct combination of enriching volunteer work and exciting immersions into the Costa Rican community. We stayed at an eco-hotel (Canto de Ballenas) that was more than sufficient in meeting our needs. Although initial difficulties arose in adjusting to the absence of technology, we quickly embraced the idea of opening ourselves up to our surroundings.

The days consisted of 3-4 hours of volunteer work and 2-3 hours of activities. Our volunteer work consisted of building 2 filtration systems for for the Bahia Ballena National Park. We were assisted by dedicated community members who work tirelessly in order to improve the sustainability of their town. The work was physically demanding, but we were extremely satisfied when we saw the final product. While we weren't volunteering, we engaged in numerous activities that highlighted the beauty of the region. We went on a zip-lining tour through the canopies of the Osa peninsula, played soccer with the local school children, participated in a boat tour in which we saw animals such as turtles and dolphins, creatures that make up the backbone of Costa Rica's marine ecosystem.

The program coordinators were exceptional in dealing with any difficulties that arose during the program. They were understanding of difficulties and were effective in dissolving any issues that arose.

My experience with Global Leadership Adventures was nothing short of amazing, and I would not hesitate to recommend the program to anybody willing to participate in an enriching, worldly experience.

How can this program be improved?
If I had to change one thing about the program, it would be the price. I was able to pay for the program because I had saved up funds for about 6 months working at my local tennis center. Global Leadership Adventures do also run excellent fund raising programs that will allow students who do not necessarily have the financial means to participate to pay for their trip.
Yes, I recommend
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Carissa
9/10

An Unforgettable Adventure

GLA was without a doubt, one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I began the program ignorant of life outside of the the United States and completely oblivious to the lifestyle and beautiful culture that Costa Rica exuded. Everyday, I woke up to my three roommates (now, I prefer the term sisters) and hurried into a small shower in our petite, wooden cabin. The living conditions were by no means luxurious or sumptuous, but they more than enough to sustain us for the preceding three weeks. We prepared for a work day, and headed downstairs, where a deliciously classic Costa Rican dish was prepared--rice and beans with sausage. Afterwards, we all headed to San Bernado, a small town where we planned to work on cementing a new sidewalk and painting tires to make a children's playground. Through the arduous work and the beating sun, I was able to truly bond with not only my fellow volunteers, but also all the people in the community. I was able to exercise and practice my Spanish with the young girls from the local community, who incessantly hugged me and made me feel like a part of their society. Aside from the work, I also learned a lot about the importance of the environment and the significance of water conservation. GLA Costa Rica's Spanish Service Adventure gave me a memorable experience filled with work, excursions, and new relationships but also taught me lessons that I intend on teaching to others in my community.

How can this program be improved?
If I had to change anything about this program, I would incorporate a lot more Spanish into the program. I came into the program intending to learn more about conversational Spanish and learning to have a more fluid conversation with my peers, the staff, and the community. Instead, we had Spanish classes (which were nonetheless helpful) but that is something I can easily get in school. I would have rather spent that team exercising my speaking skills by forcing us to only speak Spanish in that time.
Yes, I recommend
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Joshua
10/10

Unforgettable Experience

Over the summer I attended Global Leadership Adventures two week Empowering Rainforest Communities program. It truly was one of the most memorable and life changing experiences of my life. I know it is cliche and that you have read hundreds of reviews saying the same thing, and I felt the same way too. Like how good can this program really be? But after my two weeks in Costa Rica I can honestly say that the program met and exceeded all of my expectations. The way the program is organized provides for the ultimate amount of cultural immersion and fun social experiences. Everyday you wake up, eat breakfast, and then go off to do your designated service in the local communities. The service could possibly have been the highlight of my trip. As a student you are immersed in the local culture and get to meet people of a completely different lifestyle of your own. But what you learn to realize is that they are not much different from you. It is one of the coolest and most eye opening realizations you will ever experience. Throughout the trip's duration Global Leadership Adventures sprinkles in fun activities that allow you to explore this brand new country. For example during my trip, we got to swim and hike along a river littered with waterfalls, climb up to the crater of a volcano, and relax in Costa Rica's natural hot springs. As far as safety goes I understand that it is a huge part when choosing a program to volunteer abroad with, specifically from the parent's point of view. But Global Leadership Adventures does a great job in providing clean housing and transportation and you are always with a counselor or your program director. There was not one time I felt uneasy during this trip. Volunteering abroad sparked my interest in travel and cultural immersion and has inspired me to make a change in my own life and strive to help others make that change as well and I have Global Leadership Adventures to thank for that. I would highly recommend this program to any perspective students.

How can this program be improved?
The program is a little bit pricy, but it is definitely worth the amount of money you spend.
Yes, I recommend
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Brittany
10/10

LIFE CHANGING

The summer of 2014 I went to Costa Rica for 2 weeks. I had the time of my life. Volunteering everyday enhanced my leadership skills, working with others I made so many friends, and the adventures I will never forget. From the second I stepped off of the plane and found my mentor I felt safe. The social environment that I was surrounded by was so fun and positive! I volunteered everyday and seriously wouldn't have changed that for a thing! I also got to have fun experiences hiking, zip lining, going to a waterfall, kayaking through a mangrove, surf, and way more! While in Costa Rica I also had the amazing opportunity to learn about the environment, people, life lessons, about myself!!!! It is just amazing how much of an impact this trip had on my life! There was never a dull moment. In our free time we played games that I wish I could continue to play back in my hometown (it just wouldn't be the same). In downtime you also learn about your peers and connect with everyone! I wish I could have stayed longer than 2 weeks!

I highly recommend this trip to all teens!

How can this program be improved?
Yeah it is expensive, but you pay for what you get and what you get is a life changing experience!
Yes, I recommend
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Emma
10/10

Protecting the Pacific: an Unforgettable Experience

I initially signed up for a trip with Global Leadership Adventures because I was so shy that I was afraid to going places without people I knew, and I wanted to change that. When I met the other students traveling to Costa Rica my shyness dissipated. All the students on my trip were genuine and open to learning about a new culture. When we landed in Costa Rica two mentors were right there waiting for us with a sign. Later we met the other mentors, and it was quite apparent that all the mentors loved Costa Rica, and wanted to share their love for the country, culture, and people with us. We worked on multiple service projects that immersed us in the community of Bahía Ballena, including beautifying the beaches, building biogardens, playing with school children, and painting murals in the town. The variety of community service exposed me to many different aspects of the Costa Rican culture, and prevented me from ever feeling bored. Being able to see the finished products of our service really showed the positive impact we had on the community. Community members also helped us with our service project, which gave me the opportunity to practice my Spanish. Not everyone on the trip knew Spanish, but we were encouraged to learn and practice it. We also got to do activities like surfing, kayaking, zip lining, hiking, and going to a waterfall. There was a perfect balance between service and excursions. During down time we learned more about the environment and how we could conserve it. We had group discussions, talks with locals, and group presentations on different environmental topics. All these activities broadened my awareness of the impact humans have on the world, and how even little things like turning trash into art would help the environment. At the end of my two weeks in Costa Rica I left with twenty two friends that I felt like I had known all my life. I also left with greater confidence in myself and my ability to overcome my shyness. It was a truly amazing trip that I would recommend for anyone who is looking to have a life changing experience.

Yes, I recommend
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Taylor
10/10

The Experience of a Lifetime

Program Staff: some of the best people I have ever met, the staff are inspiring because they live their lives doing what makes them happy and traveling the world, they have experienced so many different cultures and have so much knowledge to share, they love to do the activities with the students but are also supportive as guides

Facilities: Ecoplaya is a private resort with a large pool connected to a smaller one and two hot tubs, leads right to the beach where it has its own ocean front, view of an island, palm trees and flowers everywhere, a large canopy covers the open dining area, there is a separate meeting house with foosball and ping pong, volleyball net, soccer field with goals, paths for morning runs

Fun: meeting local children and their families, painting, playing soccer and volleyball on the resort, swimming in the pool and ocean on the resort, seeing sunsets, shopping at local stores and markets, visiting a cultural festival in town, dancing lessons, white water tubing, horseback riding, zip-lining, cooking local meals, boat ride to an island, hike up the island to look back down on the resort

Safety: 5-Point Safety System, clean tap water, additional water provided at all times in lobby, 3 meals a day with snacks, mentors have phones that allow students to call home during trip if necessary, all students call upon arriving, each plane has a GLA mentor on it, students meet other mentors upon arrival, same GLA cars stay with program throughout the trip, mentors are present whenever someone is swimming or leaving resort, mentors keep passports during stay, safes in room, locked doors at night, helmets/protective gear for horseback riding/tubing/zip-lining

Yes, I recommend
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Sarah
10/10

Safe & Life-Changing

Last summer I traveled with GLA to Costa Rica and it was the most incredible experience of my life. I met so many inspiring people and I I strongly believe I can change the world. I felt so safe traveling with them, I was always around staff from the minuet I stepped on the plane until I got off. I would recommend this program to be the best for anyone interested in service travel.

How can this program be improved?
Longer! I wish I have more time!
Yes, I recommend
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Isabelle
10/10

Life-changing Experience

My trip to Costa Rica with Global Leadership Adventures was amazing. I was nervous first going there because I had never traveled alone to another country, and I spoke almost no Spanish. But from the moment I landed I felt very safe and my nerves went away. The counselors were very responsible and helpful, they taught us useful phrases and told us things that we should know, about the culture and where we were staying. I loved not knowing anybody going on the trip it was nice to meet new people from all over the world who shared common interests with me. This program has a great balance between service work and activities. Helping out the community and seeing the local people's positive reactions to our work was such a powerful feeling. It was important to me to feel be immersed in the culture, and to feel like I was a part of the community for the time I was there. We were at a local elementary school building a bio garden for our service work and also did things like beach clean ups. There were a few times where it rained and our counselors told us we had to stop working, but my group was incredibly motivated to get everything we could done and tried to stay as much as we could. It wasn't all hard work, we did fun activities too. That included things like zip lining, surfing, snorkeling, and going on hikes to waterfalls. We even played a soccer game against local people from the town! It was nice to have those fun things to do after working. We also did a lot of learning on my trip and would have things at night like watching videos or reading articles which led to great discussions among the group. This trip changed my perspective on the world and made me realize what my interests are and what I want to pursue after high school. I discovered a passion for environmental issues and learning about conservation. Although I was fine without knowing lots of Spanish, due to help from counselors and other students on the trip, I decided to switch from French to Spanish because I realized how much I wanted to travel to underdeveloped countries and do what I could to help. I loved this trip so much that I signed up for a joint program this summer to the Dominican Republic and the Galapagos. I can't recommend this program enough!!

Yes, I recommend
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Maeve
10/10

A Life-changing and Unforgettable Experience

Before arriving to Costa Rica, I did not know anyone and knew little to no spanish but that all changed. After spending three weeks with some of the best people in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, I walked away with a different outlook on life, improved spanish skills, and best friends. Going into the trip I did not anticipate how close I would come with my fellow adventurers, the locals, and the staff. While on the trip, I volunteered at an elementary school where I did things I never thought I would be doing like mixing cement, creating trenches, and re doing a playground. My favorite part of the service was the breaks because we would play soccer or other games with the students of the school. We did service 5 days awake usually from 8-11:30 and then would have lunch, some free time, and then an afternoon activity including spanish lessons, dance lessons, and exploring the town. On the weekends we zip-lined, horseback rode, white water tubed, hiked, camped, surfed, and even got to take a mud bath!(not all in one weekend) Traveling to Costa Rica, changed the way I view things such as the opportunities I have that others may not have, the true beauty of nature, and how it does not take wealth to be happy in life. This trip changed impacted me in a way I did not imagine. I undoubtedly recommend this trip to anyone looking for the summer of a lifetime! Pura Vida

Yes, I recommend
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Chrys16
10/10

a truley meaning-full adventure

The GLA Costa Rica program I went on is something I will never forget. When my mom told me I was getting togo I was ecstatic. I knew that the trip was going to be fairly physicaly demanding and me being a bigger girl thought that this would give me problems especially because there was a lot of hiking and working in the sun but I made such great friends that I was to busy having fun with them to think about how tired I was. The service that we did four days a week was very encourageing because we were working to help kids and that made it so worth while. Spanish classes consisted of actually going into town and talking with people so it made it fun and memorable. If you want to have a great summer experience GLA Costa Rica is something that you should really look into. You won't regret it!

How can this program be improved?
Sometimes we were a lot more energetic than our mentors so when we were biting at the bit to go some where or do something and they wanted to relax it could be a bit frustrating so we would at time have appreciated a bit more freedom like being aloud to go swimming in our pool without having to wait for a mentor to go sit outside and watch.
Yes, I recommend
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Leslie
10/10

GLA Costa Rica

Last summer, I went on Global Leadership Adventures's Beach Side service trip to Costa Rica. During the week days, we went to a local primary school and worked with the kids, giving them English lessons. We developed the lessons we were going to teach the nights before going to the school in small groups with adult mentors. I felt like we were really doing something in the community that was around us. DUring the weekends, we had fun (Not like everything else wasn't fun). We went on a trail ride through the forest, ziplining, and other fun things. It was a really great experience. I was the first abroad community service trip i have doe, ad i would recommend it to people who haven't done something like this yet.

Yes, I recommend
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Jasmine
10/10

GLA: Costa Rica IS GREAT!

I loved everything about this trip. The best part was working with the kids and how much they loved that we were there. I also loved the weekend trips we did, so they we were doing things for the community but also looking around the beautiful country. I must say that I had the best 17th birthday day; I zip lined, rid a horse for the first time, inner tubed, but more importantly was making an impact on these kids.

Yes, I recommend
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samkun
8/10

Costa Rican Discovery

During my 8 day trip to Costa Rica with Global Leadership Adventures, I learned so much about their culture and so much more about myself. During our days of service, we would wake up at about 7 a.m. to get ready, eat breakfast, and arrive at the local school by 8:30. We broke up the kids into three smaller groups, and each of my friends would be assigned to a group (normally about three of us with 10 of the kids). We spent a couple hours with them playing sports, teaching them basic English, and doing arts and crafts activities. Then, they would return home and we would continue to paint two of their classrooms. We really impacted the lives of those amazing children, and the service was so rewarding once we saw the finished rooms and how much the kids learned. We were always safe and taken care of thanks to Daniel, the absolutely amazing local director who shared so much of his knowledge with us. He planned our unbelievable excursions and the fun events for us to take part in, such as tubing down a flowing river and zip-lining through the rainforest. Jenna, our mentor, definitely taught us how to reflect on our feelings and learn how to communicate well with one another too. The food was made up of beans and rice at every meal, along with some other local dishes and snacks. We shared rooms with 1-2 other people that were very small, but we didn’t spend much time in them unless we were asleep anyways. The bathrooms were downstairs and we couldn’t flush our toilet paper due to the system, so we threw it out. The showers had inconsistent hot water, meaning it would change temperature in the blink of an eye depending on how many other people were showing at once. It didn’t really matter the water temperature though, as it was always around 90 degrees fahrenheit during the day so anything felt nice. I really took away lasting friendships and bonds with my friends, along with the amazing memories of working with the school children and our adventures in the city.

Yes, I recommend
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GLATraveler
10/10

GLA Beachside Service Adventure

Last summer I had the opportunity to go to Costa Rica with GLA and it was a life changing experience! I absolutely loved it, everyone on the trip shares a common interest of volunteering and helping and the staff members are so nice and helpful! The home base is beautiful and everyones time is spent productively! While I was there we taught school children how to speak English as well as spending time cleaning up beaches. I would recommend this trip to anyone! It is the perfect way to travel and see the country as well as help and make a difference and meet people from all over the world!

Yes, I recommend
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emmily115
10/10

GLA!

Global Leadership Adventures has been an amazing program that has changed my life. I have been on two different trips, each one returning with a new perspective. GLA Peru not only opened my eyes to the struggles of the people, but helped me connect to my home environment by recycling and thought provoking decisions. Through eye-opening community service work and intense hiking adventures I was able to learn how strong I truly am. By pushing myself to work harder, or do something I was not totally comfortable with, like carrying materials up mountains to help build greenhouses I found my true strengths.

Yes, I recommend

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...