Summer High School Programs in Costa Rica with Rustic Pathways

Video and Photos

my bestfriends and I at the beach
my bestfriends and I at the beach
my bestfriends and I at the beach
my bestfriends and I at the beach
Surf and service
Surf and service
Surf and service
Surf and service
Surfing
Surfing
Hiking to the water fall where we slept in a cave
Hiking to the water fall where we slept in a cave
White Water Rafting
White Water Rafting
La Leona
La Leona

About

Since opening Costa Rica operations in 2003, Rustic has expanded to include the most spectacular regions of this Central American paradise. From the Pacific to the Caribbean, from rainforests to rivers, from service to adventure, our programs here encompass the breadth of what Costa Rica has to offer. Our team of talented local staff members challenge veteran travelers with new experiences and introduce more novice adventurers to the joys of travel.

With our large staff of local Ticos, you’ll quickly feel at home in Costa Rica and easily slip into the lifestyle of pura vida, a phrase meaning “pure life.” Embrace the idea of living life to the fullest as you learn to relax, appreciate nature, and experience everything Costa Rica has to offer.

Popular Programs

Surf and Service

Learn to surf or take your skills to the next level during this one-week program. Live at our base house and soak in the laid-back culture of beach town life. When you’re not surfing, work on infrastructure projects supporting the communities around Playa Grande. You’ll also have the chance to go on a private catamaran and go whitewater rafting!

Traveling Soccer and Service Team

Get ready to travel, work, and play your heart out on this intensive two-week soccer and service project through the heart of Costa Rica. Using the game you love as a medium, you’ll develop relationships with tico locals throughout this beautiful country, and give back to your host communities through thoughtfully designed service initiatives. In your downtime you’ll take advantage of the best adventure activities that Costa Rica has to offer.

Turtle Conservation Project

This program is designed especially for students who are passionate about turtle conservation and want to embrace the authentic and rustic park ranger lifestyle! Live at an actual park ranger station, take cold showers, and work alongside the rangers to protect this incredible species. Take walks along the beach at high tide to track sea turtle behavior. When not working hard, zip line, surf, and enjoy the beautiful beach views and sunsets.

Summer Camp Leadership in Costa Rica

If you love working with children, this is the perfect program for you! Begin your trip with an adventurous whitewater rafting trip down the Pacuare River, then spend three days learning leadership skills and planning a creative summer camp experience for local Costa Rican children. After this amazing bonding experience, work together to run the summer camp where you will develop meaningful connections with your campers through fun and engaging activities.

Spanish Language Immersion

Perfect for students of all abilities, this program allows you to learn Spanish from native speakers in a small group or private instruction setting. Practice Spanish with fellow students and live with a welcoming host family that will introduce you to the warm tico culture. Outside of the classroom get your heart pounding as you zip line through the jungle and raft down the whitewater rapids of the Pacuare River.

Questions & Answers

Hi there Cesca, I would recommend checking out our blog channel all about prepping for your program. It won't be specific to Summer Camp Leadership, but might help. (Link below.) I would also check out our student lead Facebook group – Rustic Pathways Travelers 2018. Hopefully that helps, but please feel free to reach out to us at hello@rusticpathways.com if you have any additional questions...

Basically, Rustic Pathways has a program called group travel, and you can choose which country you want to go. For the Costa Rica group travel programs, the prices range between $1945 and $2355.

Reviews

97%
based on 113 reviews
  • Impact 9.4
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 9.4
  • Safety 9.7
  • Growth 10
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Housing 7
  • Safety 9
Showing 1 - 15 of 113
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Natalie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Turtle Conservation Project in Costa Rica

My Rustic Pathways trip showed me a new way to look at the world. As the trip progressed, each day I started to put more and more into the tasks at hand. I realized how satisfying my hard work can be. Through the trip, I learned that even a little work on a project is a start in making a large difference. Although my trip was only 10 days, my perspective of volunteering changed. I was pleasantly surprised by the other teens’ commitment to our work helping the environment. My Rustic Pathways experience changed the way I view my carbon footprint and it has pushed me to make myself a better person and citizen of the world.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
As you head into this trip keep an open mind. You are going to see another culture and many new parts of nature. If you are open to trying new things, you will come out with so much more from your experience. So use this chance to meet new people while learning about yourself and what you are capable of. If an opportunity on the trip is offered, say “yes”. You might be nervous, but quickly your perspective will change and you’ll have the best time. With a willing, excited and open mindset, you can come out of the trip with so much more than you started with.
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Cristina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica Nicoya Turtle Expedition.

In Costa Rica not only did we get to play and care for several turtles but we also were enriched in the Costa Rican culture. Everyone in Costa Rica is so genuine and friendly, in the streets there is always music playing and people dancing, And don’t be surprised if a Costa Rican grabs your hand to dance as well. In the first half of the trip it was more community service based. We helped to clean up beaches from plastic and save/relocate turtle eggs. At night we would walk the beaches looking for turtles ready to give birth, and if so we would help them. The last week of the trip was all adventure we went to water falls and several different communities to meet people. Overall, this trip was life changing, I learned so much about the environment, the culture, and asking the way made life long friendships. I highly recommend this trip to newer travelers looking for fun and adventure.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I would advise bring a deck of cards. With the fee time they give you it is always more fun if you and your friends have a fun card game to play. Also it helps to build friendships faster.
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melise
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Surf and Service in Costa Rica

The experience with Rustic Pathways doing surf and service in Costa Rica was incredible. The trip was a combination of watersports such surfing, kayaking and swimming along with doing service work helping to build a new sports facility for a local school. Every aspect was well planned out and the staff was amazing. Traveling there was somewhat complicated but the Rustic team too all the stress out of the planning and the journey was fun. Working with the local community opened my eyes to the world outside of Los Angeles and I feel we made a difference in improving the lives of the people we worked with. The surfing was world class and the instructors helped us improve while ensuring we had fun. It was such a great experience that we have signed up again for next year.

What would you improve about this program?
Really, there is very little that I would change about the program. We have already signed on for next year 10 months in advance which shows how much I valued and look forward to repeating the experience.
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Alexander
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica Language Immersion with Rustic Pathways

This past summer, I went on a Rustic Pathways teen tour to the beautiful country of Costa Rica. The program was a Spanish Immersion Program where the goal was to leave speaking much more Spanish than when the program started. Before I left, I was naive about what was going to happen while I was there. I was unaware of the amazing program leaders that would be there to help us enjoy ourselves, the other students that I would form long-lasting friendships with, and most importantly the lessons I would learn about life in general. We learned that there is a large difference between a traveler and a tourist. A traveler goes to a different country and learns the different customs and culture. A traveler tries new food and embraces the fact that they aren't in their home country anymore. A tourist goes on a vacation and acts as if they were in their own country with no changes. Rustic Pathways and their program leaders taught us that it was important to experience different cultures because we are more isolated than we think we are in the United States. We are in a bubble and it is amazing breaking out of that bubble and experiencing what life is like outside.

Within the program itself, we had a daily Spanish class for a couple of hours each morning. In the group, there were 4 travelers and a Costa Rican native Spanish speaker teaching us the language. It helped us practice our conversation to a point where we were comfortable using it to speak to the people around the city. After this, we did some activities such as white water rafting or visiting local coffee farms. During the night, we stayed with a host family and they cooked us a delicious dinner. It was very fun practicing our Spanish skills with them. I would certainly recommend Rustic Pathways to other students because it really changed my thinking about many things and burst the bubble that I was inside of.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The most unfamiliar things that I ate while in Costa Rica were the fruits that aren't found in the US. I ate starfruit, rambutan, tamarind, and many more delicious fruits.
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Lauren
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Most Rewarding Experience!

I’m my group as all girls, and I was afraid it would be cliquey but quite the opposite happened. The first night all of us went into one room together and shared laughs and stories. I’ve never in my life felt so close with people I barely even knew! There was never a moment when I felt excluded because everyone was friendly with everyone. I initially wasn’t excited about the all girls part but it actually enhanced my experience! The group dynamics was a huge part of why this was my favorite trip. I did another rustic trip the year before which was still an amazing experience but the group dynamics really made the experience memorable. The group leaders also weren’t just adults to me but friends who I had fun and light conversations with because they treated me like a person and not a job kid to babysit.

What would you improve about this program?
I would improve the program by adding more group bonding activities to help break the ice.
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Winnie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Summer Leadership in Costa Rica

I began my trip to Costa Rica with the mindset of saying yes to everything. I did not want to miss out on any opportunity I could have while I was there. I went on every hike, even hikes where only 4 of us went on in the rain, did every activity, and was always helping out. I think the best way to go into a trip would be by following that mindset. By saying yes to everything I got so much out of the trip and would not change it for the world. Also, I went in wanting to make new friendships that would last a lifetime. I made so many friends from all over the United Sates and even from other countries. I still keep in contact with these people all the time as well. It might seem scary to go away from your parents and go on a trip, but it was such a great experience and everyone there was great. The counselors are so fun and help you out with everything and anything and are always looking out for you. I would 100% recommend this trip to anyone looking for adventure and looking to make an impact on someone and something bigger than themselves.

What was your funniest moment?
During the trip I celebrated my birthday. The day after my birthday we went to the beach with a bigger group of people then just the rustic trip. At the beach we were provided lunch with music. The people playing the music asked if it was anyone’s birthday and my friends told them it was my birthday. I had to go up in front of all these random people and shake maracas while they sang me happy birthday. Then they continued to make sure I got dessert first before anyone else. I will never forget the awkwardness and laughs that came with that experience.
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Poppi
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable Adventures- Rustic Pathways BriBri Indigenous Culture and Serive

This past summer I took part in Rustic Pathway's BriBri Indigenous Culture and Service trip. The experience was truly unforgettable. While in Costa Rica I met new friends, went on adventures, and was able to give back to a native community. The trip provided the perfect balance of adventuring, learning, and helping. By going on a Rustic Pathways trip I was truly immersed in the pura vida lifestyle and got to learn local insider knowledge from my leaders. While on my trip I went river rafting, surfing, boating, and hiking. Additionally, we learned about medicinal plants, the unique Costa Rica ecosystem, and how to make cocoa butter and jelly. The service work that we took part in was centered around helping a native Costa Rican community, the BriBri. While staying in Yorkin, the town where the BriBri live, we helped paint a house for their school teacher to live in and we helped to build a greenhouse for their school. Although the service work was rewarding, the best part of staying in Yorkin was getting to know the locals. Their positive energy and acceptance was inspirational and their simple, community-driven way of life opened my eyes to a fresh perspective. If you are looking for a summer experience of adventuring, growing, and stepping outside of your comfort zone, I would highly recommend this program!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take a risk and step outside of your comfort zone! Before this trip I had never ventured out on my own, but I am so grateful that I did. This trip solidified my desire and capabilities for increased independence. It allowed me to explore on my own and be accepted into a new community. If you are on the fence, I recommend going for it because the risk that I took with going on the trip came with great reward.
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Logan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Rustic Pathways Nicoya Turtle Expedition

The most amazing part of this trip was the service work. Every night we went on night walks to find turtles crawling up on the beach to lay their eggs. On the first night, I got the chance to catch the turtle eggs as the turtle was laying them. This experience was life-changing because I was able to interact with wildlife on an extremely intimate level. This provided a more authentic perspective than learning from a textbook.
Another highlight from the trip was learning about the Costa Rican culture and community. We went on side trips which allowed us to learn about native food, agriculture, and customs. My favorite part about the Costa Rican community was the Pura Vida lifestyle. All the people that we interacted with were so friendly, welcoming, and easygoing.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice would be to focus on the trip and enjoy it. At first, it can be a little difficult to adjust to being in a new place with new people and you might feel homesick, but the best way to get rid of that feeling is to appreciate what is happening around you and enjoy the experience because it goes by really quickly.
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Viviana
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Experience

I did the Summer Camp Leadership program and I absolutely loved this trip! It was my second Rustic trip and it exceeded my expectations by so far and made me love these trips even more. Travelling by myself, although sometimes nerve-wracking (especially travelling internationally without a group), was really enlightening in terms of responsibility and independence. The trip itself was the perfect combination of service and adventure. I really enjoyed doing adventure activities (like the ziplining, kayaking, and rafting) interspersed with the service. Additionally, doing the rafting trip immediately was so much fun because it allowed everyone to bond and have to work as a team straight away and it took away some of the awkwardness of the first meetings. In terms of the service, I was surprised and glad that the planning and running of the summer camp were completely up to the students, and our leaders only got involved when we needed them or asked them. I really appreciated this because it made us get the most out of the experience.

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Mora
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica!

I really enjoyed going to Costa Rica this summer. I learned a lot about myself and the communities that I was in. I was nervous to travel abroad with people that I didn't know, but Rustic Pathways made me feel safe and welcomed into the group. I had a lot of takeaways from the two trips that I went on. I went on two different programs in Costa Rica. I went to the West Coast for two weeks on the Nicoya Turtle Expedition and got to do a lot of cool things there. I got to catch turtle eggs from a turtle on the beach. I got to go to a women's art group and make bracelets. On my second trip, I was with the BriBri People of Yorkin, Talamanca for a week. I got to learn about their culture and help paint a house for a teacher from the school. I loved my trips and I want to go back!

What was your funniest moment?
On my second trip to Yorkin, Talamanca, we stopped at a place to go white water rafting, I was still getting to know my group. When we finally got to the rapids on the river, we were all laughing and screaming! The raft would be coated with water, and we would all die laughing when people fell out of the raft and were making their way back in. It was a great way to connect with my group, and see a different side of them!
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Grace
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Rustic Pathways-Summer Camp Leadership Costa Rica

This program was amazing! I traveled with two friends from home, but it would have been just as fun going alone! There was a lot of in-country travel, which allowed me to get to know my group and bond with them very quickly which was amazing! There were not always hot showers at the places we stayed, but that was very easy to get used to, especially in the Costa Rican heat! The schedule of the program allowed my group to learn a lot about the Costa Rican culture, and for us to have some fun adventures! We toured a farm, a coffee plantation, visited a hot spring, went zip lining, and much more! Being able to create and run a summer camp that the kids loved was a great experience, and it taught me a lot about the value of communication, as the children spoke very little English. I highly recommend this program, the friendships I made were life long and the memories I made will stay with me forever!

What would you improve about this program?
The accommodations were not up to par with the price of this trip, and the staff was not necessarily always engaged with the students (on occasion- for the most part the staff was very helpful and supportive).
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Sofia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica Rustic Pathways Intro to Community Service

My experience with Rustic Pathways was unique and will never be replicated. Rustic Pathways impacted me on how I view the world and others from different cultures and cities. Being able to accomplish two things in one sitting is very effective. With Rustic Pathways, you get to travel as well as help out others in different communities that aren’t as fortunate. Costa Rica itself holds a huge spot in my heart because I was overwhelmed with happiness every moment I was there. If you chose to go on a service trip to Costa Rica with Rustic, you should expect a lot of fun activities, bonding with new people from all over the world, and lots of smiles on people’s faces. My favorite part of this trip was being able to see the gratitude expressed by the Costa Rican’s after seeing all the help we provided during our community service. I would extremely recommend ANY of Rustic’s trips if you want to travel, help others, and have fun!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The most unfamiliar thing I ate would be yuca. Yuca is a shrub/tree that is grown widely over Costa Rica. It tastes fairly decent and can be cooked several ways.
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Hannah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Unforgettable Summer

It’s going to be difficult to sum up this incredible and unique experience, but hopefully I can do it justice. I went to Costa Rica on the Summer Camp Leadership program and was given the opportunity to run an authentic camp for Costa Rican children. The connections I made with even the youngest of the group were so valuable, even with a language barrier between us. In a sense, we were able to find common ground because we didn’t quite understand each other, and that brought the counselors and campers all the more closer. I benefited so much from this trip by truly experiencing what life is like for so many people in the world. My outlook on life as a whole is much deeper, and I felt a greater sense of self immediately after returning home. I grew confidence and leadership that will stick with me forever, just like the beautiful memories from the program altogether.

What was your funniest moment?
The funniest moment from my Rustic trip was realizing after a day of slip-and-slide with the kids that my white shorts were caked with mud and completely brown. Of course I knew in the moment that I might get a bit dirty, but never did I notice how messy we all got. Looking down at my clothes got me to understand that the moment was so precious it didn’t matter if my shorts were ruined forever.
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Frank
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The expectations and reality of doing Sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica

When I heard that their were no hot water and that their was no air conditioning I thought I would not make it two days in. But I was wrong. I stayed their the whole time and when it was time to go I didn’t want to go. When they said the night walks were going to be 3 hrs long at would start at 12:00 I thought I was going to loose my mind. It turned out that like what I said in the second sentence of this review I was wrong about my reaction. I loved having those night walks and seeing the sea turtles making their nest and laying their eggs. On our second to last night walk we encountered a dead sea turtle with a fishing line and hook stuck in its throat. Because of that encounter I started a Conservation Club at my high school to prevent these endangered animals from going extinct.

What would you improve about this program?
The changes I would make is to make the time spent their a little bit longer.
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Kara
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Rustic pathways summer camp leadership in Costa Rica

When I left for my service trip in late July 2019 and I had no idea what to expect. I had never travel out of the country before let alone by myself! However, as soon as I arrived at the airport I immediately felt the sense of organization and control Rustic has over the situation. During my two week stay I never once felt unsafe. The program leaders were the only negative part of my journey as it was their last trip of the season and they were all a bit worn out. Not to mention our group was a little over enthusiastic at times. The service project it self was life changing! The children are nothing but amazing and kind and working with them was an absolute pleasure! The culture in Costa Rica is worth the trip itself! All of the people were so welcoming and excited to talk to us. The food was the best part!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Meeting the kids for the first time was probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. Given the nature of the program we didn’t know how many kids we would have, what age they would be, or if they spoke any English. The only thing I could do to help my anxiety was assure myself that what ever happened happened and the kids would have a great time. Which turned out to be entirely true! Once we met the kids I wasn’t sure why I had been as scared as I was!