Sustainable Summer
100% Rating
(5 Reviews)

Sustainable Summer

Sustainable Summer is a unique learning experience designed to prepare today's high school students to become tomorrow's environmental leaders. Our programs combine environmental education in remarkable places - such as an organic farm in Costa Rica or Ecuador's Amazon rainforest - with leadership development and outdoor adventure. Our mission is to cultivate the next generation of environmental leaders though transformative study abroad experiences and field-based learning.

Most Recent Program Reviews

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Julianne
Female
19 years old
Orlando

Amazing Trip!

10/10

This was a wonderful experience with very knowledgeable and amiable staff and similarly delightful, like-minded students. We traveled throughout the Amazon and saw mountains, gorgeous waterfalls, and enjoyed many jungle hikes. The housing and food (lots of vegetarian options) were generally very good quality and the Ecuadorian guides that we had at each location were all a lot of fun and were extremely knowledgeable. We got to have a lot of very neat experiences (including white water rafting and milking cows!!!) and our group culture was very fun and respectful. Our leaders taught us a number of games and we would simply enjoy spending time with each other while traveling or before going to bed each night. The staff was also well aware of our safety and I never really felt that our activities or practices were endangering in any way.
This program, despite its name, did not focus on environmental issues quite as much as I had expected. We did go to several hydroelectric projects and discussed the implications of those, but besides that, environmentalism was typically only mentioned in our evening discussions and we didn't focus on it or learn quite as much as I had been hoping. Besides that, the Sustaining the Amazon trip was a wonderful experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone!

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Josh
Male
19 years old
New York City

Sustainable Summer will grow you into an environmental leader!

10/10

I traveled with Sustainable Summer to Costa Rica in July of 2014, and had the most culturally immersive experience imaginable. Starting the first day, it became evident that my fellow participants and I would quickly become a family. 

We traveled to Rancho Mastatal, where we studied the ecological interrelationships between the human inhabitants, the agriculture, and the wildlife. All the food we ate had been grown on-site.

We thought critically about the current global energy crisis and the climatic issues generated by the greenhouse gasses emitted from the burning of fossil fuels. We discussed a handful of alternative energy technologies and solutions in depth, from hydroelectric dams to photovoltaic cells to geothermal energy harvesting to wind-power farms. We all devised a plan in which we could become more sustainable with our energy consumption back when we returned to the States. 

We went on a full-day horseback ride through the mountains to a beautiful waterfall. The view of the valleys were rich with a biodiversity of plants, and the waterfall itself was breathtaking like nothing we had ever seen before. We were led by a cowboy who could not speak English, so this proved as an opportunity in which we could really practice our Spanish. 

In Sarapiqui, we lodged by the jungle, immersed by a spectrum of bizarrely beautiful insects, frogs, sloths, birds, and howler monkeys. We hiked through the jungle with an ethnobotanist, who taught us how to identify medicinal and sacred plants and explained their anthropological origins. We tasted a variety of native plants, fruits, and endemic delicacies to discover new tastes alongside medicinal properties. We partook in a cooking class with a local family, in which we prepared aliments for a dinner we shared with them. 

We went white water rafting on a beautiful yet dynamically ferocious river surrounded by flora. Later, we visited two protected ecological reserves and took a private tour in the depths of the rainforest with scientists, where we conducted experiments and calculated equations regarding biodiversity and tree height. The rain was furious and the thunderstorms were like nothing we had ever experienced before. The rainy season of Central America is not something to be underestimated!

As we kayaked on Lake Arenal, we discussed reforestation, hydroelectric energy, bio digesters, compost, and much more. After hiking to an overlook of Arenal, Costa Rica’s largest volcano, we concluded our trip with a two-night stay at Rancho Margot. On our way back to Miami, the entire Sustainable Summer family reminisced upon all we have accomplished and how we have matured into the next generation of environmental leaders. The melancholy farewell will only be temporary, as the distances between us will never damage our friendships.

Sustainable Summer was definitely an experience that has shaped who I am as a leader, an environmentalist, a student, and a teacher. It is beyond a doubt that I recommend this program to all students worldwide, as the knowledge and skills I've aquired on this adventure will be indispensable throughout all aspects of my life.

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Anneliese
Female
19 years old
New Jersey

Once-in-a-lifetime Experience

10/10

Venturing through the dense layers of the Amazon forest, engaging in lively and scholarly conversations with the local Kichwa people, and examining the impact of our nation's thirst for non-renewable resources, I discovered my future passion for environmental science.
This summer, I set a goal to learn more about the world and myself. Sustainable Summer fully helped me achieve this goal. Myself, along with thirteen other students, left behind our indulgent, urbanized lifestyles and traveled to Ecuador to expand our knowledge of sustainability. The result was an unforgettable experience- emphasized by the helpful leaders, amazing accommodations, exciting activities, and intriguing lessons. Furthermore, the program allowed me to experience what a career in environmental science would entail, and supported my belief this would be a suiting career for me.
Sustainable Summer was honestly one of the best experiences of my life, and I can only hope others are able to experience this amazing opportunity.

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Murray
Male
19 years old
NYC

Unreal Experiences and Adventures

10/10

The experience was unlike anything I could have imagined. In the Galapagos, I got to swim with a penguin and a sea turtle, made friends with a sea lion, touched a white-tip shark (by accident), and saw dozens of marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies. On the mainland, I had a wild monkey jump on my back, a millipede crawl on my face, and of course hiking with the interspersed sheer rock cliff. Not to mention having a Tribe Leader of the indigenous Kichwa people tour me around a small part of the forest and feed me natural remedies.
Yet, my perspective shifted during my adventures in the Amazon. While the experiences were unforgettable, they weren't the focus of the trip. I got to see firsthand what is being threatened by modern needs.
I saw the conservation efforts in the Galapagos with the fight to keep it as natural as possible, yet still keep it open to humans. I learned the land and forest in Ecuador must be protected; yet one of the major financial resources is the boil beneath the Amazon.
It's very easy to sit at home and say, "Oh, I love the rainforest and I support the movement to protect it!" Meanwhile, global environmental threats and concerns only continue to grow. What Sustainable Summer has taught me is that there is no reason why I should wait until someone else takes charge of these issues to work on and resolve them.
Everything from planting gardens, to composting, or even bans against plastic bags makes a huge difference. Returning from my trip to the Amazon, I am going to bring the skills and knowledge with me so I can spread awareness about the threatened rainforest, and help create meaningful change in my own urban wilderness.

How can this program be improved?

I think the trip to the cacao farm could be cut. It was hot out, getting there was difficult, and no one was really in the mood for natural chocolate and its extreme bitterness... That's really the only thing I would change!

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Sarah
Female
19 years old
Santa Barbara, California

Very worthwhile trip

10/10

I did not expect much when signing up for this program. I was so wrong. I cannot put into words how grateful I was for the four weeks. I am so thrilled that I ended up going, I would do it again in a heartbeat. My interest in travel and environmentalism sparked. I think this program effected how I am going to live my life in the future and the types of people I plan to surround myself with. I really enjoyed the outdoor activities- hiking, farming, snorkeling, horseback-riding, etc. (that we participated in almost everyday)- but what shocked me is the relationships I made with other students. The type of students when enroll in Sustainable Summer programs have a sort of independence, free spirit, and excitement about life that is difficult to find anywhere else.

Program Listings

Ecuador

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Sustainable Summer
Few places are as critical to the overall health of our planet as the Amazon rainforest. Come to Ecuador’s exotic ‘Oriente’ a...

Ecuador

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Sustainable Summer
Travel with us from the shimmering Pacific to the majestic Andes on an exploration of the global food system. You’ll learn pr...

Costa Rica

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Sustainable Summer
Costa Rica has been the model for sustainable economic development in Latin America for a generation. On this program, you’ll...