I have been on 3 trips with GLA and every single one has made a incredibly lasting impact on my life. Last summer, I went on the Building a Sustainable World Program to the Dominican Republic. I cannot rave enough about the 3 weeks I spent there. The staff, home base, activities, lectures, and service projects were all amazing. We worked on several different projects during my session including building a bottle room onto a local school, constructing an addition onto the Haitian-Dominican Center to become a pharmacy, and repairing water tanks in a rural community. This particular GLA program involved a lot of physical activity and teamwork. We all learned how to mix a mean batch of cement! In addition to the service, which we did in the morning most days, we also had tons of fun activities planned in the community and occasionally some free time at the base, which we sometimes used to walk to the nearby beach. Some of the activities included exploring caves with Taino drawings, visiting the bustling market on the Haitian border, going swimming, hiking up a mountain to a waterfall, and doing a scavenger hunt in a nearby city. We also usually had some sort of lecture, documentary, or discussion every night, which were actually really interesting and changed the way I look at a lot of things like the effectiveness of different types of charity. Most 3 week GLA trips also have a getaway for about three days and on this one we went helped repair water tanks in a rural mountain community, where the altitude was so high that we were actually living in the clouds.
Some of my favorite parts of the trip were the spontaneous things that can't be planned in an itinerary. My roommates and I bonded so well that every night we talked for hours until a mentor begged us to go to sleep. One morning we realized that we didn't have any fruit so on the way to service we stopped on the side of the road and bought a huge watermelon that we sliced up and shared. I truly value all of the relationships I made with everyone on my trip and I will never forget the incredible experience that we shared.
The only note I would make is to make sure that your child is emotionally and socially mature enough to go on this trip. This is not a summer camp or just a place to send your kid off to for the summer; it's about learning to make a difference and it's very important to have the social skills and maturity to do so.