Costa Rica Summer Service Adventures

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About

Are you a high school student looking for volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica? Global Works has a variety of options for you. Take a look at our programs and visit our site for full details.

Language and Leadership: Spanish Immersion, welcoming homestay families, community-driven service projects, and adrenaline pumping adventure...this trip has it all! Over the course of three weeks, practice Spanish and learn cultural norms and customs through immersive homestays and community service projects

La Pura Vida: On these 2 week adventures, practice your Spanish with local families and community members, roll up your sleeves for some meaningful service projects and pump up the adrenaline on a zip-line canopy tour through the rainforest.

Sea Turtle Adventure: On this week-long trip, we engage in projects and tours to support native leatherback sea turtles and the local community. Activities include a tour of the hatchery, environmental projects, a night beach patrol, a kayak tour through the canals of Tortuguero National Park, and even an overnight rafting trip!

Questions & Answers

Reviews

97%
based on 20 reviews
  • Growth 9.3
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 8.9
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 1 - 15 of 20
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Jack
10/10

Pre-Med and Public Health in Costa Rica

The program was amazing, it was very cohesive and easy to navigate. The staff was very fun to talk to and hangout with. They were great people and very protective of us, but they also gave us the freedom we need as teenagers. I also became very close with the group I travelled with and by the end of the trip felt like I had known them forever.

Working in the clinics was very interesting and rewarding. I was able to see two minor surgeries from less than 2 feet away and listen to a little girl’s lungs before and after her asthma treatment. I also learned about how difficult it is to work in a pharmacy, and why it takes so long to find, count out and fill the different prescriptions. I will never be impatient with a Pharmacist again. At first, I was a little worried that I didn’t know enough Spanish to understand what was happening in the clinics, but the doctors and guides were helpful, translating everything that was happening, and I was able to learn from them without any trouble.

After our time in the clinics, we did our homestays. The people in the village that we met at the homestays were so nice to us and they honestly felt like a second family to me. My best advice to people joining is that I know no matter how much we say don’t worry about the homestays, you’re still going to worry. I know because I was the same way. However, the homestays were one of the greatest parts about the trip because the families are just so happy to have you and they do their very best to welcome you into their home. Keep your mind open to new cultures and try to learn as much as you can for as long as you’re there.

How can this program be improved?
I can't think of any way to improve it. It was a great trip!
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Jack
10/10

Pre-Med and Public Health in Costa Rica

The program was amazing, it was very cohesive and easy to navigate. The staff was very fun to talk to and hangout with. They were great people and very protective of us, but they also gave us the freedom we need as teenagers. We got to go to clinics and shadow them and throw ourselves into the language and the culture. The people in the village that we met at the homestays were so nice to us and they honestly felt like a second family to me. My best advice to people joining is that I know no matter how much we say don't worry about the homestays, you're still going to worry. I know because I was the same way. However, the homestays were one of the greatest parts about the trip because the families are just so happy to have you and they do their very best to welcome you into their home. Keep your mind open to new cultures and try to learn as much as you can for as long as you're there. After my trip, I've been obsessed with studying abroad and I want to go anywhere and everywhere and I want to learn what the whole world has to offer.

How can this program be improved?
Some people brought ipod touches because it said ipods were allowed but then they got taken because they had wifi and social media. just clear that up i guess.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Lily
10/10

¡Pura Vida!

Going on this trip was easily one of the best decisions I have ever made. Global Works was super easy to work with and made me feel super prepared going into my trip. The leaders were great ( shoutout to Perri, Taylor, and Randall! ) and I felt very well taken care of, while also having fun, the entire time. My Spanish greatly improved this trip and I enjoyed all of the experiences we had! The zipline experience had such great views and it was so cool to able to do something so special with a great group of people. The homestay experience was something unlike anything I had ever done before and was one of my favorite parts of the trip! The homestay community was so welcoming and my family was so sweet and welcoming. I felt so proud at the end of the week when I looked at all of the work that we accomplished on the community center and all of the relationships we had formed, The friends that I made on this trip are some of the best friends I've ever had. I was with such an awesome group and I'm still talking to them nonstop! Our final days were spent surfing and hanging out on the beach, which was a perfect end to such an amazing trip! The beach was beautiful and made me want to stay in Costa Rica with this awesome group for my whole summer. Overall, this was such a wonderful experience and I can't wait for my next Global Works trip!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Jasmine
10/10

A beautiful three weeks

I participated in the Global Works Into to Pre-Med program in Costa Rica. This was my first time outside the country and it was amazing! There was continuous support from the supervisors, and I made a strong bond with everyone I met on the trip. The clinics we visited were also fascinating. It was very educational to see another Country’s medical system and how it worked. But the trip wasn’t just visiting clinics. We got to meet holistic health doctors, which exposed us to a wider view of medicine, and an herbalist. We also got to go zip lining.
Over all, the trip was so incredible I can’t describe it in words. I loved every bit of it, and never got homesick because I was enjoying myself so much. In fact, I wish the program had been longer!

How can this program be improved?
my suggestion would be to choose a different hostel or lodging to stay in at Monte Verde.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Tara
9/10

Costa Rica: Intro to Pre-Med and Public Health

I cannot begin to express how much fun I had in Costa Rica. As soon as we arrived, the group of students automatically clicked, and friendships only grew stronger as the trip progressed. Even though our trip was changed from Nicaragua to Costa Rica relatively last minute, we still were able to work in multiple clinics and get real insight into the healthcare system in Costa Rica. During the homestay portion of the trip, it was amazing to enter into a rural community, and interact with the people our service efforts would actually be affecting. After living with our homestay families for 5 nights, saying goodbye was extremely difficult. Even a month later, I still miss my homestay family, along with other residents of the community that we grew close to. Going into the trip, though I was not 100% fluent in Spanish, the trip leaders and other students made active communication with community members and the clinic staff easy. Over the trip, I made many lasting friendships and came home with a greatly improved ability to speak and understand Spanish.

How can this program be improved?
The work in clinics could have been more hands-on.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Natalie
10/10

Costa Rica: Sea Turtle Expedition

This was a fun filled program into the land of turtles! Starting off our trip with adventure we took a stop at a local cheese factory where we got to experience the process of cheese making starting with milking the cows to boiling and stretching the gooey yummy cheese. We then went rafting along the river picnicked on the side and even caught a fish in our boat as the waves splashed over us! Further on in our trip in Parismina we took night patrols watching for turtle tracks, cleaned up trash on the beach. We then helped hatch baby turtles on to the beach into the ocean providing a proper waddling space as the turtles made their way in to the ocean and started there life as a baby sea turtle.

How can this program be improved?
More Focus on Turtles
Yes, I recommend this program
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Ryan
10/10

Best experience of my life

Going into the trip i was thinking it would be very fun. I was very wrong Once i met the other kids i was going on the trip with i started really liking them. Once we got into Costa Rica i was very close with the other travelers and i quickly started having an amazing time. I did not think it would be difficult to leave the trip, but as the day got closer and closer the more i feared leaving. The trip gave me Friends and memories i will never forget. Its almost been 5 months since the trip and i still miss it just as much as the day i left. If you are debating to go on a trip with Global Works i strongly recommend you to go with them!

How can this program be improved?
Make it 1 week longer
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jill
10/10

Great Adventure

My trip to Costa Rica with this group was hands down one of the best weeks of my life. I was able to experience so many new things from making new friends around the country to learning about a whole new way of life to helping out in the community and speaking the little Spanish I know to the locals. The fact that I was able to experience a whole other way of living at this young age really made an impact on me. Going on this trip opened my eyes to a whole new perspective. I've realized that we should not take anything at all for granted any day of the week because we don't realize how good we have it and how much we ave. I've become a lot more appreciative and also a lot more accepting. With that, I learned through the people in the villages and how they go about their way of life that you should always extend a helping hand and make sure everyone is accepted. Other than my learning experiences, I had such a blast everyday with anything we did - especially the surfing and the late night talks with my group. We were all able to get really close with each other since we were such a small group and it really meant the world to me. This trip was truly such an amazing experience and I would definitely do it again, or something like it, in a heartbeat.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Abby
10/10

Costa Rican Adventure

My experience on this Global Works trip was nothing less than phenomenal and life changing. Every day I spent in this amazing country helped me grow as a person in knowledge and understanding. Those who accompanied me on this trip would definitely say the same.

How can this program be improved?
I would change the housing arrangements. By the end of the trip, I think that students should be allowed to choose their roommate.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Josh
9/10

¡Pura Vida Mae!

When our group traveled to our first destination after San José, el Rio Pacuare, I knew it was going to be an amazing trip. Just as we started our bus ride toward the river, I began to see the immense beauty of the country with its endless mountains and lush greenery. Also, friendships were quickly made. I found that regardless of it being a sort of long bus ride there was never a moment when I felt bored. I was always talking to the people around me and trying to get to know one another. The friendships were so close, but yet very inclusive. I loved the lifestyle and friendliness of Costa Ricans-¡Pura vida!

How can this program be improved?
The one thing I do wish there were more of was language. We did often speak in Spanish during the times we had Spanish meals as a group (where we only spoke Spanish), but I do feel that at times there was no Spanish at all. Maybe more contact with locals besides the homestay too.

LOVED the trip!!!!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Sabrina
10/10

The Puda Vida Lifestyle

The Puda Vida life means living your life as if every obstacle is a piece of cake. It means being happy and welcoming to everyone around you as well as looking at the bright side of everything. I would love to be around Costa Ricans all the time. The community I stood with was so loving and caring and still to this day opening there homes to me if I ever go back to Costa Rica which I most defiantly will do!

How can this program be improved?
If I could change one thing I would have a more organized schedule on how things will work in your home stay community once there as well as a bit more flexible with calling back home.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Brigitte
9/10

AMAZING OVERSEAS TRIP

This trip was my first overseas camp. All I know is that the description fits. It is a wonderful experience and I made so many great new friends! I got significantly better at speaking spanish which enabled me to skip a class! I also did so many cool activities that I wouldn't have been able to do anywhere else. For starters, I was really nervous for the rafting trip. However, it was completely safe and absolutely thrilling! We got to go swimming in all these waterfalls and go surfing down the rapids. The views were stunning especially with no one around us but the wildlife. Ill also say overall the lodging and bathrooms were all really nice, compared to what I expected. Next, the cloud forest was really, really nice. Off the bat if you are going to this particular trip you need to be fit. The exercise and exertion that goes into this part of the trip is intense. So be prepared!! Here we did TONS of work everyday and we learned a lot about the wildlife too. The food on this part of trip was to die for. The people are also super nice and you never feel pressured about the spanish. Next, the home stay is probably the most impactful. Here you get to practice your spanish the most. You are also rarely with your counselor and you have the most freedom, but it's still safe!! The people, again, are also very nice and there are tons of little kids to play with. We do community service everyday but its easy stuff and then we do fun activities like playing in the river or games with the kids. I should also mention that we have to wake up around 7 am everyday and go to sleep around 10 pm. We also always pretty much have access to food. We also went on a few field trips like visiting another but huge waterfall. There isn't as much shopping on this trip as I personally expected but we got to go to super markets a lot. Then we travel to the national park. Unfortunately I got sick during this part but I got lucky because it has the best lodging! We saw amazing sunsets, went to hot springs and ziplining of course! Do not do this trip if you are afraid of heights!!! You are hundreds of feet above the forest for a large time in the air. But don't be afraid to try new things! Last but not least, the surfing! The beach is just beautiful. The water is warm and safe and the bottom is all sand. The surf instruction is great and you are guaranteed to stand up the first day. There is also a nice pool too or you could walk up and down the beach and collect shells. The shacks that we live in are super comfy but I hope you are not afraid of giant lizards! All in all this trip is just..its soo nice. I completely recommend this to anyone! Lastly, the counselors are the sweetest people who you can really trust and they always do everything with the safety of your child in mind! This the right decision for an overseas camp. And don't forget Global Works offers other locations and specializations as well.

How can this program be improved?
If I had to change one thing about this program it would be to spend less time traveling or maybe travel overnight so as to permit more time for fun activities.
Yes, I recommend this program
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mcw1213
10/10

Costa Rica Global Works Experience

While on my trip in Costa Rica with Global Works, I had the time of my life. The hardest part for me was feeling comfortable with my group because many of the kids came with friends. I can be shy anyways, but it was a great learning experience and it has made me more outgoing. By the end of the trip, our group was very close and it was sad to see everyone go.

I loved all of the language games we played and I have since decided to major in Spanish and use it in my daily life in the future.

How can this program be improved?
I would say that the one thing I would change is the homestay. I was able to be in my homestay with my best friend on the trip, but I know many people were upset that they could not choose their roommate.
Yes, I recommend this program
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CedralianGirl
9/10

My "Cedralian" Exchange

During the reliable afternoon thunderstorms of Costa Rica, the newly built beneficios, an elevated wooden room that oversees the town’s coffee processing plants, was our official work station. But outside the beneficios was an even more intensive study of the culture shock. As we adapted to the masculine-dominated, agricultural society, we also had to adjust to the fact that the entire village was literally one family! In return for our dedication, the locals shared their long-standing traditions with me, a complete stranger who barely spoke any Spanish, save for a few phrases from a tourist guidebook. The exchange was not always tangible; it still baffles me that they were so willing to do so much for others without expecting anything in return. My inclination to attempt to help was largely because I felt a new connection to these people who have made me feel as if I was a part of their culture. This trip has introduced me to the boundless opportunities that await me in the field of business, and I am surprised by what I did accomplish in these short weeks. My experience in Cedral has passed, but Cedral and the memory of it live on.

How can this program be improved?
My main difficulty was communicating with my only-Spanish-speaking host family. I wish my leaders had taught us more essential Spanish phrases before the homestay.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Molly
10/10

My College Essay

Here is an essay I had to write for college, it's a great review of how the trip made me feel and the impact it had on me...

This past summer, I spent a month traveling in Costa Rica with Global Works, a community service-based adventure program for high school students. I wanted to indulge myself, experience new things, improve my Spanish, and maybe do a little volunteer work. Luckily, I found much more than that. I have participated in other teen tours, but I never came away from a trip feeling like I did after this one.

While in Cuipilapa, a small village in the Guanacaste region, we worked every single day, from early light until dark, on the community center building. We cleaned and swept the floors, scraped rust from the fencing along the outside of the building, and sanded 40 tables and 65 chairs. We painted the entire inside and outside of the center. As we worked, the village children would gather around us, giggling while trying to communicate to us in the little English they knew, while we responded back in what we thought was our impeccable, surely unaccented Spanish. After a while, the children didn’t just watch. Seeing us hard at work influenced them to help, too, taking pride and ownership in fixing up their community. I had similar experiences during the other projects our group worked on, such as when we dug up wet mud in the rainforest to clear a 1.5-mile path to a breathtaking waterfall.

Although I spent hours working to improve the 3 different areas we visited in Costa Rica, I had the most transforming experience during my homestay with the Fonseca Family. The Fonseca Family has lived in their small village of 100 inhabitants for their entire lives. The Fonsecas felt themselves very fortunate because they were the only family with a TV, despite the fact that it only offered one channel! To me, their house felt like a mansion because of the things it was filled with: laughter, love for one another, and happiness. But what really floored me was how they welcomed me into their home and into their lives. They had no knowledge of my life at home, how much money or status my family may or may not have, what my reputation might be, what my school and town are like, or how good or bad my grades are. No idea, and they didn’t care. All they knew about me was what I brought from home – myself. I had my smile, my valiant efforts to speak their language, and my willingness to throw myself into their lives. At dinner, they constantly offered me food, wanting to be sure I had enough; at bedtime, they brought blanket upon blanket, to make sure I was comfortable. This sense of acceptance, purely for who I was on my own, without my friends, my family, and the trappings of my life at home, taught me that I didn’t need a warm shower, fancy clothes, or a flat screen TV. I only need myself, and people whom I care about and who care about me.

I have noticed that people in other countries seem to be happier than people in the US. I’m not entirely sure why that is, but while I was in Costa Rica, it was one of the happiest times of my life. Perhaps it was because I chose to engage rather than just pass through, connecting with people and having an impact on the community, rather than being a tourist or visitor. Perhaps it was the simple lifestyle, the ability to feel rich without having a lot of material things. Life occurs at a slower pace, friends and family spend time together rather than on their cell phones, and people choose to see the positive, rather than the negative, in others. Most likely, however, it was the experience of connecting with my own self, seeing what makes me happy, what I am capable of, and the kind of person I want to be.

On my last night with the Fonseca Family, we trudged through the rainforest, collecting our ingredients for that night’s dinner. We found vegetables of all kinds, sugar cane, and even medicines from fresh plants. As we prepared the meal, I found myself standing together with mother Rosa, rather than sitting outside with my friends. We shared just the occasional word or two, communicating in other ways, as we fried fresh banana chips and created a lasting masterpiece in my memory.
...to include all the amazing detail I had to combine a few things like the homestay and one of the rainforest trips, but it doesn't take away from the truly amazing experience I had, which I at least think is very apparent in this essay.

How can this program be improved?
Although no program is perfect, GlobalWorks swings as close to that perfection as any other group. Although at one point I felt weird about you guys taking my phone, don't let any kid tell you that policy is the wrong way to do it because I couldn't have been any happier to not have my phone. The overall message of GlobalWorks is what really brings you close to perfection. It couldn't be more clear of the true morality and warm-hearted purpose of the company. I can see that all the company wants is to give kids the experience of a lifetime, while helping out around the world at the same time. Also, the leaders couldn't have been any better. They all brought different things to the table, while all sharing the common goal to make this experience the best it possibly can be for us kids. Not to mention it was really cool and encouraging to see how into the trip and all the experiences the leaders were because it made me want to engage even more.
Yes, I recommend this program

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For more than 28 years, Global Works has been an industry leader in community service-based adventure travel programs for high school students and custom group trips. Much more than a vacation, Global Works international trips are the bridge for...