ARCC Gap Programs

ARCC Programs


ARCC has been offering programs for young adults since 1983. ARCC Gap Semesters are an opportunity to live and learn in some of the greatest classrooms on earth. Our semester programs take students on a journey of discovery of local peoples, places, cultures and ideas through project-based learning, rich cultural immersion, personal reflection and exhilarating adventure.

ARCC Gap Semesters have a vibrant educational foundation complementing each and every destination and highlighting regional topics that are directly linked to global issues. Through delving into these topics ranging from the environment to public health (and more) students have the opportunity to explore future aspirations in a tangible hands-on manner.

ARCC offers semesters in East Africa, Asia, Himalayas, Pacific Islands, Latin America, Patagonia/Cuba. ARCC Gap Programs focus on personal growth in a small group setting of no more than 12 students in an engaging, goal-driven, and leadership focused environment.


19800 Village Office Ct
Bend, OR 97702
United States


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Yes, I recommend this program

When I decided to take a gap year, I had no idea what I was going to do. After some research and meeting some great ARCC employees, I knew this was perfect for me. While I was going through the ARCC catalogs and website, I knew I wanted to do the Pacific Islands trip. Thank goodness I did.
During this trip I did things that most people my age have never done. While in Fiji we stayed in an orphanage and played with the most amazing children. We also got to plant coral on the most beautiful private island! That was easily one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The Fijian people are the nicest, most caring people you will ever meet.
After 45 days in Fiji, we migrated to Sumatra, Indonesia. This was the highlight of the trip for me. We spent time planting rice on local rice farms, painting elementary schools, making coffee, and so much more. One of the most exciting things we did was tracking orangutans. We saw about ten in total. At lunch one day during the tracking, an orangutan came so close to us. There was a mama and a baby swinging on vines about five feet away from us!! The baby was so cute and tiny. He was even sticking his tongue out. It was incredible.
Once we were done in Sumatra, we traveled to another Indonesian island, Bali. This island had the most beautiful beaches. We started this trip off with a Student Planned Module which couldn’t have gone better. We spent weeks researching all the cool things in Bali that we wanted to do. Our group managed to do almost everything that we wanted. Once that was over, we spent two weeks in an East Bali Immersion program. It was amazing. Here we spent time working in a local cashew factory, while also working in a Preschool. Those kids were the sweetest. After that, we had the chance to explore the city of Ubud. Once we were done spending all our money, we spent our last few days surfing in Uluwatu.
During this trip I got pushed out of my comfort zone and got to experience more than most people my age. I don’t know one other person that could say they got to trek through the highlands of Fiji or scuba dive with sting rays in Bali.
In the beginning I was very hesitant. I have never been away from my parents for more than 2 weeks. I have also never been camping before, or even on a hike! As out of shape and unexperienced I was, I loved every second of it.
Thank you ARCC for giving me some of the best months of my life.

What was your funniest moment?
The funniest moment of this trip would have to be during one of the homestays in Sumatra. I was roomed with one of my very close friends on the trip.
One night she had to go to the bathroom really badly so she got up and walked to the bathroom. About two minutes later she comes back into our room and wakes me up to tell me she thinks she saw a headless chicken in the bathroom area. She then stated that she could hold it in and wait till tomorrow to go. Around five minutes later, she then tells me that she definitely cannot hold it. She saw a trash bag and decided to pee in that. Little did she know, she was missing the trash bag the whole entire time and was peeing on our ground. One she realized what was happening, she grabbed a bunch of wet wipes and tried cleaning it up. It was easily the funniest thing I have ever seen.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I think a large part of how much I enjoyed this program was because of the people. Not only were my trip leaders incredible human beings who I am fortunate enough to look up to and even call friends, but ARCC also does an excellent job selecting local leaders and families for home stays. Every house I lived in, I felt so loved and welcome. I have done travel programs in the summer with different companies, but I did not feel nearly as immersed in the community then as I did on this trip. It was the first time this trip ran as a Gap Semester, so there were still some kinks being worked out while we were on the trip. Even though things did not always go exactly as planned, I would not change how I spent my semester nor would I hesitate to recommend this program to anyone interested in a truly life changing experience filled with immersion, adventure, and service learning.

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Yes, I recommend this program

After making a pretty last minute decision to take a gap year I found ARCC. I previously went on multiple summer trips with a different organization, but for my gap trip wanted to try something different. After spending 3 months in East Africa with ARCC, I wish I did all my summer trips in the past with them. I heard about them through a gap year consultant and immediately fell in love with the East Africa program. Something about the 3 countries (Uganda,Kenya, Tanzania) popped out at me, and as I read into the trip more I decided this was the company and trip for me. Once I decided to do a trip like this, I explored a couple of other companies before making a decision. once. Something about ARCC just felt so right and I absolutely loved how the trip was set up. When I read about the trip, I liked how there were 5 global themes that you explore throughout the whole trip (public health, education, micro finance, urbanization,conservation) and I liked the incorporation of leadership and the capstone project at the end. Those three things were not included with other programs. In September 2018 I met up with my group of 10 students and 2 leaders who were soon to be my 12 new best friends and family. We embarked on the trip of a lifetime. I know that sounds cheesy, but I don’t really know how else to define the trip that brought me so much. I loved that it was a mix of values and lessons that all contributed to the success of the perfect trip. There was service, adventure, leadership, education, nature, and fun. We lived in each country for a month. We spent our time traveling to village to village and spent about a week in each place. In each place we focused on something new. A new project, a new theme etc. For the first half of the trip we went to many schools and spent copious amounts of time with the kids. Playing with them, teaching them, learning about the school, learning how we could be of service. Every school was different so it never got boring. And the faces of the kids and the things we learned from them and the relationships we met will never be lost. Starting in Uganda we got a big overland truck with no windows and limo type seating and traveled in that with our driver Thiemo. Driving from place to place instead of flying was a really special experience because we saw things you wouldn’t see thousands of feet up. For example kids running after the truck, people selling different things on the side of the road, and how the landscape changes as you progress into a new place. During those road trips we stocked up on snacks connected to the aux cord and looked out the window at the beauty. Some of the best times were spent on that truck. We also got the opportunity to camp for about a month and a half. We would drive in the truck and pull out all of our stuff and tents from the compartments and set up camp. We had cook crews and we all shopped and cooked with and for each other. This added on another component to the trip and I think the camping really brought us together as a group. Sleeping in tents cooking meals together etc. Along with working in schools, we did a solar panel project and a health project. Learning everything you needed to, to wire someone’s house with solar panels and change a dressing on a patient. Everything that happened on the trip we did it together. I had 11 people by my side with everything we did and saw which is really special because you’re not the only person who saw that village or got to experience the amazing people of Tanzania and you can process and talk about everything with 11 other people which is amazing. Along with that we had two amazing leaders Katy and Eric who were also always by our side. Supporting us in anything we needed or did and keeping the trip running smoothly and safely and also sharing lots of laughs with us. The trip had so many special moments some with my group some with the locals. We experienced so much. Met so many people saw so many beautiful sights and made so many connections and memories. After spending 3 months on an ARCC trip I feel so incredibly passionate for the company. I think everything that occurred on the trip is all thanks to ARCC for organizing it so well and keeping everything running so smoothly. I also think ARCC is just so thoughtful they really know where we were at coming on this trip and they met us where we were. They provided so many things during the trip that contributed to the trip on such a high level. For example every week we did a reflection where we were given an
Hour and a prompt to reflect on and that was then followed by a discussion. This helped us to really process and further think about everything we had done or seen which I think is so important. They also included a whole leadership component giving us each an opportunity to be a leader of the group for a week twice during the trip. An opportunity to plan and run under all activities, reflections and experiences for the group. I think I learned a lot from that experience. They also always had games and activities up their sleeves to help us connect more as a group and have loads of fun. I felt so supported and understood and loved and pushed by ARCC. Although this is a self finding trip ARCC helped foster all the relationships and experiences we had which helped a lot. They did so well at preparing us and they were always available to talk to leading up to the trip. They also did a very good job at discussing the arrival home and preparing us for what that can potentially bring. So when I arrived home and was dealing with culture shock and missing the trip and the group at least I was prepared because I knew that was what I was going to feel. We talked about it and processed it before we left. I could go on for days how this trip had so many great parts to it and how it brought me so much joy and new experiences. What it all comes down to is that I highly highly recommend a trip with ARCC If you want a trip that is so well planned and that will change your life. Obviously I am biased to the East Africa gap semester they have many other trips in countries all over the world that all share similar curriculum, experiences, adventures and opportunities. If I could I would do my trip and all the other ones over again. I don’t think I would be as happy, aware, strong, thankful as I am without ARCC.

I miss my trip and my group everyday to me that’s a good sign,

Rosie Morford

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing I would hope for is more homestays other then that nothing could be improved as it was perfect.
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Yes, I recommend this program

At the beginning of the trip I didn't know what to expect, I mean I met my group for the first time at the airport, I mean that first day was really hard leaving your family's and meeting complete strangers is really hard. If I wasn't for our leaders and their games we wouldn't have talked to each other. Our leaders really made our group one of a kind they were still in our age range that it wasn't awkward talking to them. This whole experience wasn't anything I've ever thought about doing. But after spending a couple of weeks with my group we grew much closer than I ever imagined and now not waking up and seeing them everyday is really difficult. But I'm very glad I took this semester because the memories I have of them were life changing.

What would you improve about this program?
I loved every moment of this trip, the only thing I I would change would be to have longer homestays.
Yes, I recommend this program

The east Africa trip was by far one of the coolest experiences I have ever done. For my gap year, I wanted to expand my boundaries and see the world and this trip did just that. The 11 other people on my trip were strangers, friends and then family. We grew closer than I though possible in the short amount of time together. But now looking back, even through the ups and downs, the good and the bad, they were and will always be there for me, no matter what. The east Africa trip showed me how strong I can be and showed me How similar and different the western society and the east African society is. I loved meeting new people and really getting to know them. Many of the people I met, changed my life. Peter changed the way I look at the world, he said, the world needs you more than you think and that if you work hard you can do anything. Constantly now, I wish I could go back. I wish I could be in the open plains of the Savannah, or in the crowds of children singing to us or in the wise embraces of mama from Lewa and Tania. My heart lives in Africa and someday I know I will go back and live every moment to the fullest possible, loving everyone and everything in my path of life.

What would you improve about this program?
Tell future people that it has a campyness side. I did not expect that, I felt more like a kid than an adult on the trip. Not that it was bad, I just wished I would have known about the mandatory games and group fun almost every day. I am an introvert so it took some getting used to, but in the end I didn't mind it.


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Nick Flohr

Nick was born and adopted in Magadan, Russia in 1999. He has lived with his two parents in Nashville, Tennessee ever since he was one year old. He enjoys being outdoors more than anything and is always up for a hike.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I wanted to see the world before attending a four year college. I wanted to see a side of the world that is not as fortunate as us in the U.S. I also wanted to see a side of the world that we, Americans, don’t really think about on a day-to-day basis. Honestly, if I had not decided to go on this long journey, I do not know if I would ever travel to the countries I traveled to.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

She assisted me with deciding what the best program for me was, and helped me narrow down what journey I really wanted to embark on the three entire months. On my own, I had to do my research on each programs' website I looked at and I had to set up an interview with ARCC and get that going so I could then go in the right direction.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Something I would say is to get out of your comfort zone while abroad and to make the most of every single day, even if it’s hard. Three major times I emerged from my comfort zone were zip-lining through the trees in Ecuador, Spanish school for a week in Costa Rica, and when I presented my final Capstone project to my group at the end of the trip. Looking back, I am so glad I did these things and got out of my comfort zone. When opportunities arose, I usually tended to take them, as not only because of the opportunity, but the chance to grow as a person.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average day would look like waking up at a scheduled time, going out to do some sort of service, then, in the afternoon, doing a group activity and then having meeting time with my group at night. Some days would be very hot and humid and long. Other days would not be so hot but would still be long. I loved each day because I was still out doing things I had never done before in my entire life.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear going into the trip was not knowing enough Spanish to get by. But I soon overcame that fear by attending Spanish school and then applying what I learned to each homestay or interaction with local people the rest of the trip. By the time I returned home, my Spanish had definitely improved that I could tell and I’m so glad it did, because that was a big goal of mine.

Can you share a story from the trip?

A little story I'dlike to share comes from a small community in the Andes mountains in Ecuador called Minas Chupa, Otavolo. During this week, my group played and interacted with the locals, went on long hikes, and helped construct a meeting place for the locals, because they did not have one prior to that. After this week there, I made the closest friendships with the children there, some of the most heart-warming relationships I have ever made in my life and I teared up just a little when it was time to leave them.

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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Graham Phelps

Job Title
International Program Instructor
Graham grew up in Durham, New Hampshire in a beautiful house tucked away in the woods. He spent most of his childhood playing all kinds of sports and exploring in the woods. He has four sisters with whom he is very close. In his down time he loves to cook, spend time with friends, snowboard, surf, watch/read Game of Thrones, and participate in just about any kind of sport outside.

Tell us more about your educational, international, and professional experience:

I attended the University of Vermont where I was in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. My four years at UVM were the catalyst to my appreciation for the environment and how important it is that we all contribute to preserving the beauty we find in the natural world. I also pursued a variety of opportunities working with developing youth in my jobs as sports coordinator for a local YMCA and as a snowboard instructor for children with autism through Vermont Adaptive Sports.

While at UVM I developed my passion for exploring the world and discovering new cultural experiences. I studied abroad in Perth, Australia and organized a service trip to Peru to the small town of Lobitos. The latter was a life-changing experience for me that sparked my interest in “Voluntourism” and the cultural richness of Latin America, eventually leading me to live in Ecuador for four months.

I have been leading programs for ARCC for four years now in many amazing places such as Costa Rica, Ecuador, Cuba, Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Thailand, including two gap semesters in Asia and Latin America. No matter if on a two week trip or a 3 month long gap program, I have watched these trips transform students. ARCC has provided me with an incredible platform to broaden horizons and spread love to all corners of the world which I can't wait to continue this Spring on the Patagonia/Cuba Gap Program.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite memory traveling with ARCC is from a backpacking trip I led in California. My group was camping for the night in the Lake Tahoe Basin. We all decided that we were not going to set up our tents and all slept together under the stars outside.

That morning we all woke up at 4am to see the sun rise over the lake from a beautiful outlook on the ridge. We all watched the sun rise in silence and as I looked around I noticed a lot of the kids were crying. I was really confused so I went and asked one of the girls if she was ok? And she whispered to me "we are all from the city and have not seen anything this pretty before, the tears aren't because we are sad, this is amazing".

I went back to my rock in silence and felt so humbled to see how powerful that morning was for those students.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

The last four years working with ARCC has created so many incredible learning opportunities. I have discovered a lot about the world and about myself on these amazing trips. I have gained an appreciation for cultural exchange and the sentiment of love that can be spread person to person no matter what cultural differences exist.

I have grown a lot as a leader and have learned the true meaning of empathizing, both with the students on my trips and with the different cultures I have come across.

It is amazing how far a smile can go, and I have found that no matter where you are in the world they seem to always be contagious.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Wow, this is a hard question. So many of the programs offer lots of different experiences so it would not be easy to choose just one. Nevertheless I would choose the Patagonia and Cuba Gap Program, which I am actually going to be leading this spring!

This program visits some of the most magnificent nature preserves in the world while in Patagonia and offers perspective to the importance of continuing the protection of these places. The Cuba section is also extremely enlightening but more on the side of cultural exchange and the power of peace through meaningful human to human interactions as we start to heal our country's relationship with this amazing country.

This trip has a healthy balance of experience in both urban, rural, and completely natural areas. The culture in the Andes and the Caribbean are both completely different and equally amazing!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

The biggest reason ARCC has had so much success leading trips all over the world is because of how intentional we are with every aspect of the trips. Nothing we do with ARCC is done carelessly, there is a reason for everything we do.

As a leader I always adopt this philosophy, from how I debrief group initiatives, to the traditions I bring to my trips. The office staff also echo's this sentiment and they are very intentional with the service and educational opportunities they pursue and aim to make the experiences as enriching as possible for their students.

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US visitors, meet us in person!

  1. 6 January
    Scarsdale, NY Gap Year Fair
    Scarsdale High School
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM
  2. 7 January
    Brooklyn, NY Gap Year Fair
    Brooklyn Friends School - Upper School
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM
  3. 8 January
    Fairfield, CT Gap Year Fair
    Fairfield Ludlowe High School
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM

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