Summer High School Programs in Costa Rica with Rustic Pathways

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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.

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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 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.


9.66 Rating
based on 113 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 93.81%
  • 7-8 rating 5.31%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0.88%
  • 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 9 - 16 of 113
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Intro to Community Service in Costa Rica

I went on a program last year in the Dominican Republic and I had so much fun so I decided I wanted to do another trip this year. I was hesitant about if this program would match up to how good my trip was last year, but it was honestly one of the greatest weeks of my life! The program is heavily structured so that we spend a lot of time working at different service sites helping with different projects and interacting with locals, but we also have days where we got to do adventure activities such as ziplining and white water rafting. One of the greatest things about Rustic, but this program specifically, is the sense of community that is created between everybody in the group which makes it so fun to be together and make new memories. It's weird to think that creating such strong bonds with strangers in such a short amount of time would be possible but Rustic is such an awesome organization and they have the best program leaders (PL's) who know exactly how to make everybody feel comfortable and have a good time. One of my favorite things about my program this year was when we were teaching one of the PL's slang words that we use like "flexing" and "salty" because he wanted to be able to use them and impress all of us!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't be afraid to put yourself out there, go up and introduce yourself to everybody and get to know the other people on your program. The people that you meet will turn into some of your best friends! Everybody has their own story to share and it's one the most awesome things to learn about other people's lives back home. On one of the first days, one of my program leaders said "when you feel uncomfortable that is just your reaction to being pushed out of your comfort zone" and that's exactly what Rustic does, but you have to fight through it when you feel uncomfortable or awkward at first so that you can get the most out of your trip!