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 students call a life-changing experience, not just a spring break or summer program.

GLA provides high school students the opportunity to authentically discover another culture, safely engage in high adventure and above all, participate in grassroots service projects that directly impact the families and communities they become close with while abroad.

The long-term partnerships our global staff have developed with local individuals, community leadership and action-oriented organizations around the world continue to be the backbone of our programs. Helping them deliver sustainable impact while transforming the way we look at the world and ourselves is what gets us fired up every day at GLA.


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Yes, I recommend this program

10/10 Loved Costa Rica

I cannot even begin to express how much I loved Costa Rica. Though the housing isn't luxurious, it is not meant to be. This was an exciting and eye-opening experience for me. I was very lucky to have been with the most incredible group of people ever. We were a mix of different personalities, but we all got along well. We were also so lucky to have the best mentors ever. Gina, Sam, and Stef were unbelievably amazing and supportive throughout the entire trip. Everything we did was enjoyable. 10/10

  • Eye opening
  • Fun
  • Building connections & creating memories
  • Smaller housing
  • If you refuse to go vegan for some time, might be tough (I didn't think I could, but the vegan food was prepared so well, amazing substitutes)
  • Bug bites
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No, I don't recommend this program

not a good experience for my child

My child went to Costa Rica last summer with GLA.
This is a good kid who has excellent grades and is home for curfew and does not use substances.
There were many kids caught drinking on her program, actually ON SITE. They stole alcohol from a store where they were taken shopping. This was the majority of the participants, and it was older boys who instigated and some were quite drunk.
My child was in the space but not drinking alcohol, and yet was punished with 3 other kids who were more actively participating, kicked off the program while many who were involved got to stay. I was literally contacted in the process of my child being carted off to a different location in a different country BY MY CHILD, not by any adult in the program.
THEN -- find out through that experience that there were kids drinking on other programs as well. No responsibility was taken that it was the ADULTS running the program that should have prevented this. My child wanted to have a conversation with the adult running the program about the experience -- never happened.
Terrible -- clearly these people have NO IDEA how to safely run a teen program, and how to model responsible behavior and communication.

  • beautiful place
  • nice idea
  • ?
  • Spanish only for beginners
  • Not well run
  • Not safe for teens
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Yes, I recommend this program

Best Summer Program Ever!

My trip to Costa Rica was the best thing I could have done. The service aspect of the program was so incredible because not only were we actively helping out a community, but we were also learning about the environment. You make lifelong friends and experience things that you never forget. My experience built confidence, not only with travel but with making friends. The mentor groups at the end of the night were a great debrief of our day and helped to reflect on our service. The rooms we stayed in were great and beds were comfortable.

  • Great Service Aspects
  • Meet New People
  • No laundry service until the last day
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Yes, I recommend this program

GLA Costa Rica Children's Initiative

My daughter had an absolutely wonderful trip on her GLA adventure. She was on the Costa Rica Children's Initiative trip from July 25-August 7 2022. I honestly cannot say enough good things. The experience matched and exceeded my expectations. She absolutely adored all the mentors and the international director, Jonathan. She made so many new friends and is really missing them! The combination of service activities, GLA bonding and leadership activities, and recreational trips is perfect for a teenager. She talked all the way home from the airport about her experience. Most of all, I think she treasures the relationships that were formed. As a parent, the communication from the company before the trip as well as the blog during the trip was superb. I never worried about her safety, as I could follow along with their daily activities. I will definitely be saving up for another trip for her in the future.

  • staff
  • communication
  • diversity
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Yes, I recommend this program

Wonderful Experience!

My 16-year-old son recently completed GLA's service travel program to Hawaii, and it was a wonderful experience from start to finish. The GLA website provided very thorough and clear information leading up to the trip. When we did have questions, the GLA staff was responsive and knowledgeable. During the trip, my son enjoyed the service and travel activities out in the community as well as the social interaction with the leaders and other teens on the trip. As a parent, I truly appreciated the student-written blog updates which allowed those of us at home to read about and see pictures of the daily activities. When my son came home, he could not stop talking about all of the experiences he had with a wonderful group of people. He made forever memories and experienced growth while he was away. I would highly recommend this program to others!

  • perfect balance of service and leisure activities
  • wonderful leaders & peers on the trip
  • opportunities for personal growth


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Alumni Interviews

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

Kylie Nuccitelli


Why did you choose this program?

After I was doing some research on primarily the safety aspect, GLA caught my eye and became one of my first choices. The safety was clearly demonstrated on their website and after being easily given contact information and talking with some very helpful staff. After looking at the destinations and what the different programs offered between my top choices, it was clear the Fiji at GLA was the perfect mix of volunteering and adventure.

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

The GLA programs organizes everything that is involved in-country, leaving you to only have to organize the plane ride there. The program did give us a travel agency that they use to help set up your flights if you wanted to, which I did and had a great experience with them. GLA had transportation from the airport to the destinations for everything and there was always a leader from the program with us as well.

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

Be open-minded during this trip. It will bring you out of your comfort zone but you just got to go with the flow and be open to try anything that gets thrown your way. Understand that you are in a foreign country and things may be a little different but learn to be able to adapt. Also know that you will meet people from all over as well its different views, so be able to accept and understand your differences.

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

While you are on the island, Monday through Fridays from 8-2 are spent at the village. The group was divided into three different groups that rotate throughout the length of the program. There was construction which build rainwater tanks, teaching in the school, and marine conservation. When in the village we would also have lunch everyday with the women who made us wonderful food while we were able to play with the little children who were too young to attend school.

After spending your days in the village you take a boat back to the home base and have until dinner to do as you please. You could swim, play volleyball with the staff, or enjoy tea time everyday at 4. On the weekends we would do different fun activities such as hiking or visiting a beautiful beach to have a cookout and snorkel with the locals.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest fear was making friends. Not that I am bad at making friends at home but I was still worried that maybe I would fluke and not be able to make any friends. Before I met all my soon to be friends, I gave myself a little pep talk to try and give myself some confidence and be myself.

Once I got to meet all the people I quickly released that all of my worries were wrong and that everyone was in the same boat as me, trying desperately to make friends out of strangers. In the end my fears were overcome by simply being myself and adapting to the new circumstance of meeting strangers who would soon be my family.

What is your favorite memory on this program?

One of my favorite memories would be the sunset hike that my group all took together one day after a hard day of work. The hike wasn't something that was very hard but just being able to enjoy the beautiful scenery around you while you spend time with your friends was so incredible. At the top of the hike was the best part though because after we all finished talking and taking picture, we were told to all sit in silence for a few minutes.

This gave myself and everyone I was with a time to think back to our first week of working in the villages and how truly inspiring and rewarding it is. There was something extraordinary about all sitting in silence and contemplating the same thing. After the brief moment, our mentors talked to us about some points of how important this is and to get the most out of it, and how we must transfer these good deeds to our own community. It was such a tender moment that made you really think deep about yourself that I feel most people don't experience enough.

Staff Interviews

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

Tell us a little about GLA and your role at the company.

Bridget volunteering in Guatemala

Bridget: As a Sr. Enrollment Advisor for the organization, my primary responsibility is advising families around the world who are seeking the right volunteer abroad opportunity for their teen. I am also responsible for custom groups and assist with training new Enrollment Advisors who join the team every year. I love visiting a new GLA program each Summer so I can experience it first-hand with our students and be able to offer the best support for our families.

How did you get involved in the volunteer industry?

Bridget: After returning home from my semester abroad in Australia, I was excited to stumble across a job posting for part time work as an Enrollment Advisor. I had a great experience traveling to another country and experiencing another culture and thought the idea of passing on this amazing gift would be very rewarding. Impressed by everything I read, I contacted the office in hopes of pursuing this position. After the first interview and learning more about the mission of GLA, I knew this is where I wanted to be. During the past three years, I've had the privilege of working with an amazing team of staff around the world and advising hundreds through their students life-changing experience.

What makes GLA unique?

Bridget: GLA is unique for three main reasons:

  1. GLA believes that leaders are made and not born. Leadership Development and Personal Transformation are at the core of every GLA program and interwoven in the service, workshops, and excursions.
  2. GLA operates only in developing countries in cultures significantly different from the West in authentic, non-tourist communities so that students will have a life-changing experience
  3. GLA works only with high school students. Our safety standards (The Five Point Safety System) and curriculum (The Service Learning Adventure) are tailored to the growth and development of teens.

How do you ensure your programs are sustainable and mutually beneficial for you, the community, and the volunteers?

Bridget: GLA works directly with the community within the country we are volunteering in. Each program is managed by a local and international director, who have intimate knowledge of the host community and culture and the current and future impact of the volunteer work we will do there. Terra Education is also a Certified B Corportation, a company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

What does the future hold for GLA?

Bridget: Each year GLA sends hundreds of students on life-changing volunteer abroad programs. GLA will continue to be the leader in service-learning abroad education programs.