I volunteered with CCS for 8 weeks in the summer of 2007. I loved my experience. I read a lot of negative reviews so I had to add my experience.
The “Home Base” all the volunteers stayed in was in a nicer neighborhood. I volunteered with my wife and we lucked out and go our own room with our own attached bathroom. Other volunteers had to stay in larger rooms with bunk beds. The house had wireless internet, lockers, hot water (in the mornings), 2 housekeepers to clean the common areas, a cook, 24 hour security, etc. We had no curfew and the staff was very flexible and accommodating.
We volunteered in the mornings and came home in the afternoon for lunch and then had optional language classes, culture classes, trips and free time. I know Portuguese so I skipped the language classes. The food was local. So some volunteers weren’t always crazy about it but I liked it and thought it added to the cultural experience. I did however teach the cook to make American style pancakes.
We also had weekends free so we got to go on weekend trips to tropical islands and amazing waterfalls. I went rock climbing, cave exploring, hiking, swimming, to lots of beaches, and even a cigar factory during my weekends free.
My placement was teaching English at a community school for underprivileged children called CEIFAR (There is a Wikipedia page about it that I wrote). I taught classes twice a week, helped in their regular classes twice a week and it was closed on Fridays. On Fridays, I visited other placements like a center for kids with HIV/AIDS, other English schools, some daycares etc. Since I spoke Portuguese, the staff liked to have me visit lots of different placements on Fridays where I could help.
I thought the mornings we not enough so I got permission to volunteer in the afternoons at an orphanage. It was down the street from CEIFAR. There I just mostly played with kids and talked to them. The got little attention from adults as they were very short staffed. The kids loved it and I had fun too.
My wife (a med student at the time) volunteered at the center for kids with HIV/AIDS. Upon her request, the staff worked out a once a week placement with a local community doctor so she could observe and do some things to help out.
We thought the staff in Brazil was fantastic. I still keep in contact with the house manager through Facebook. He went above and beyond by helping me fix our crashed laptop, and helping us change our plane tickets so we could stay a little longer.
I checked me receipt and I paid $4119 for 8 weeks. That includes food, transportation, the house to stay in, language and culture classes, day trip outings, the staff, insurance and I’m sure maybe even more than that. I talked to the house manager and he said the most expensive part of the whole thing was the insurance.
The other volunteers were wonderful and I made so many lasting friendships as a result. So many of the volunteers tried to extend their stays because the loved it so much. One volunteer I met had already volunteered with CCS in Brazil for 3 consecutive years.
I loved my experience so much that I looked at jobs at CCS when I got back. After seeing what they pay, I quickly changed my mind. The position I was looking at paid $30K a year to work in NYC. I make twice that on the west coast.
I highly recommend CCS.