Summer High School Programs in Costa Rica with Rustic Pathways

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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.

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 [email protected] 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 94 reviews
  • Impact 9.4
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.2
  • Value 9.5
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 76 - 90 of 94
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M
9/10

2 Programs - 2 different experiences

This summer I participated in two Rustic Pathways programs in Costa Rica: Summer Camp Leadership and Turtle Conservation. I think that i got lucky with SCL because the group of people I met there will be my lifelong friends and the program was so much more fun with them. My TC group was not bad in the sense that I did not like them, but I definitely did not connect with them as much as the SCL group. Maybe this was partially because I did TC after SCL and I was still reminiscing over my great time, but the group dynamics definitely had an impact on each of my experiences. Aside, both trips were amazing in different ways. The SCL trip allowed me to explore the kind of community service I am interested in (working with kids) while also being able to explore the country of Costa Rica and the awesome adventure activities available there. The TC camp was much more service based, considering that we only had a week to pack in 30 hours of service along with a rafting trip, zip lining, and surfing. It was incredibly rewarding to be able to see a sea turtle actually make her nest and lay eggs. I felt like we were really contributing to saving the turtles by protecting their eggs and cleaning the beach. Before I got to Costa Rica, I was expecting to spend my first night in a hotel. I wasn't anticipating anything super nice, but I definitely was surprised when we arrived to a hostile on the first night and were not fed dinner or anything. To say the least, Rustic Pathways lives up to its "#sorustic" promise from the onset of the trip. I stayed in 7 different locations throughout my 3 week stay in Costa Rica and many were cramped, dirty, buggy, communal, and slightly uncomfortable. However, this (along with the constant rice and beans) would probably be my only complaint about this trip. Although the locations we stayed in were super rustic, they allowed us to experience the "real" Costa Rican lifestyle. Overall, I would definitely recommend Rustic. I would recommend going on only one program (whether it is 1 or 2 weeks) for your first time with Rustic because for me, the switchover was very hard.

How can this program be improved?
If I had to change one thing about the SCL program it would be the food. For one week of our trip we stayed at Casi Cielo where the portions were very small and we got so hungry we walked 2 miles to the grocery store to tide us over during the long camp days with the Ticos. If I had to change one thing about the TC program it would be to add more hammocks to the Punta Mala base house. Everyone kept waiting around for one of the hammocks to open up and it was annoying.
Yes, I recommend this program
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traveler1635
10/10

Summer Camp Leadership

I had an excellent experience on this trip, and I got everything I wanted out of it. It was so cool to run the summer camp for the Tico kids, and it was great to know that you were making a difference in their lives. Since they only speak Spanish, I was able to really improve my conversational skills. Finally, I had so much fun (rating, ziplining, the beach, etc.) and I made great friends that I keep in touch with. I would recommend this program to anyone (but it is helpful to know some Spanish before you come)

Yes, I recommend this program
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costarica13
10/10

Volcano Service Base

I went to Costa Rica for the this summer and it was amazing! The volcano trip is a little more than half community service and half adventure. There is a bit of driving to the adventure activities but the zip-lining and rafting were worth it! I had a medium sized group and we all got really close over the course of the trip! The leaders are amazing and I wish there were more activities we could all do together. The service projects can get pretty strenuous especially with the humidity but it was very rewarding.

How can this program be improved?
I wish I could have seen the impact of my service more clearly.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Larissa
10/10

Amazing experience!

I went on two programs with Rustic this summer- Sarapiqui and BriBri and they were both great! I had so much fun and really made some great friends. Everything was really organized and we were always busy doing community service or fun activities such as white water rafting or zip-lining. The staff was also very helpful and they became really close with the students over the week. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who loves to travel.

How can this program be improved?
The only complaint I have is that some of the community service projects were pointless and did not help the locals such as hauling rocks up a mountain that were just put on the ground.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Carlotta
10/10

The best summer of my life

We helped the local community in the morning by helping build a house, collecting rubbish and creating garbage cans with recycled water bottles; in the afternoon, we learned how to surf. Special activities such as rafting, repelling, yoga lessons and boat trips were organized, to make us have even more fun. After two weeks of staying in Costa Rica in the Service and Surf program, I spent the last day crying because I wanted to stay there forever. I had never had so much fun, I made great friends as well as helping others and learning how to surf. The house we stayed in felt so much like home, the food was wonderful, the counsellors were always there when you needed any kind of help. It was one of the best experiences in my whole life.

How can this program be improved?
Most of the service work had to do with the local community: English lessons and building houses. I would have preferred having all the service have something to do with helping the people. As much as painting signs for the national park and collecting garbage is helpful, you can't really see all the difference you're making.
Yes, I recommend this program
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KylieW
10/10

TURTLES!!

I had an amazing time on my trip! Everything was very well organized from the very first day. We stay at a very rustic " tree house on the ground" on the western coast. Each nigh we would search the shores for eggs and turtles and during the day we would dig in the hatcheries and pull weeds. In free time we could play games, rest in hammocks, or go " extreme wading" (which was really swimming but there is a strong riptide so we weren't actually allowed to swim) I had an amazing time and so did the rest of my group. I would recommend this for first timers and returning Rustic members

How can this program be improved?
There isn't really a chance to get all the items you may need ( i'm talking to female members here) so stock up before you come or suffer the uncomfortable consequences
Yes, I recommend this program
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Taram
10/10

Heart of the Jungle

This trip was a lot of fun. The first 2 days of the trip, I hated it because i didn't know anyone and the service work was pretty annoying but then i realized that its good to give back to people and we started touring costa rica. its a beautiful country and the people are super friendly and laid back. my councellors were super nice

Yes, I recommend this program
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Halle
10/10

Surf and Service

The Surf and Service experience is the best of both worlds. Spend your mornings surfing and afternoons providing service to the local community. If your looking for a way to gain service hours while still having lots of fun and adventure this program is for you.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Anna
10/10

The best week of my life

This trip was fantastic, it was a great way to practice some spanish, and experience a whole new world. I really enjoyed it, and everything was great. Accommodations, surfing, food, zip-lining, just amazing. Honestly, this was the best week of my life, I was able to spend it with some really amazing people, who I am still in contact with!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Lilpuglet
10/10

Life under a volcano

Was incredible. I learned so much about sustainable living while staying at the ecobase by Arenal. The food was incredible and I met lifelong friends on this trip. The hot springs in town were also amazing!

How can this program be improved?
I would have stayed longer in Costa Rica to travel around a bit more. The program remained on base most of the time which had a certain kind of beauty to it. We were able to get comfortable and get to know each other, but it left me craving more of Costa Rica.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Cass
8/10

Rustic Pathways Costa Rica

I traveled with Rustic Pathways starting when I was only 15 years old. It was nerve wracking and exciting to be off on my own in a new place experiencing such new things. I fell in love with Rustic on this trip and have been with them for four years, including a GAP year.
This was the perfect place for new travelers to start. The staff were incredibly friendly, Costa Rica is beautiful and rich with culture, and the activities were energizing and enriching. I bungie jumped, white water rafted, befriended locals and painted a local school.
Now that I look back, it feels like it was only yesterday that I was doing a scavenger hunt around the town while looking up at Arenal Volcano.
I highly suggest any and all Costa Rica programs to someone who is seaking adventure, culture, good friends, and a laid back country.

How can this program be improved?
My only critique would be other students on the trip. This was at no fault of Rustic Pathways and in fact, their staff and program allowed for the hiccups on the social end to not ruin the experience.
Yes, I recommend this program
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med110
10/10

Loved it.

Inexpensive, made tons of friends, the service part was rewarding, loved the leaders. Would absolutely recommend. I had a great time and will never forget it! Rustic Pathways totally knows what they're doing

Yes, I recommend this program
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Gary
10/10

Sign up If you want a Life Altering Experience.

Everyday I was able to wake up to an unreal seen. I love every minute from surfing in Uvita to when we would play soccer with the local school children. I was able to help give back by adding on the local school so they would have more classrooms. We even spent a beautiful day out in the jungle visiting and SWIMMING in unreal waterfalls. All of the staff member were amazing and became more than a friend by the end of the trip. By the end of the trip it wasn't uncommon for everyone to consider our group as a family who just got to have the best time of our lives.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Arturo
10/10

Life Changing

Unforgettable, is how I would best describe my summer in Costa Rica. There are truly no other words to explain what I experienced. From working to create a camp for local "Tico" kids, to zip lining through marvelous forests. I had not even the slightest clue that this all existed. Being so enclosed in my everyday rituals and successions, I realized I had never really taken the time to embrace my surroundings and the world I live in. Without Rustic Pathways, up to this date I would have remained enclosed in my little imaginary bubble, unaware of the marvels our world contains. Thank you Rustic Pathways, for opening the world to me, for popping the little bubble I once wondered upon and demonstrating what a truly wonderful world we all live in. And thank you Rustic Pathways, for changing my life.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Peacelover101
8/10

Summer Camp Leadership

This program was a wonderful experience. We planned a day camp for deserving Costa Rican Youth of La Fortuna. Everyone on the trip got really close and we felt like a family by the end. Many kids from the trip have stayed in touch. The Ticos are adorable and really appreciate the work you do. The whitewater rafting at the beginning of the trip very well might have been the highlight as it was so spectacular! The scenery was beautiful the whole trip and you do a fair amount of tourism as well as your volunteering. Although it is helpful to know at least some spanish other kids will most likely be able to translate for you. The trip mostly has kids 16 and older though 14+ are allowed to go. I wouldn't recommend going before high school as it might be hard to relate to the rest of the kids. The kids on my trip were not as into the community service as one might expect though they did love the Ticos. The kids just weren't as in to the work and planning. You sleep in a base bed and breakfast type place and the ticos are bussed to you every morning. Its really great to bring arts and craft because there are not many supplies available in town. Overall the trip was a really great experience!

Yes, I recommend this program

About Rustic Pathways

Travel and volunteer abroad with Rustic Pathways to one of many exotic locations.

We take students on unique, rewarding, and safe programs to some of the world's friendliest and fascinating countries. Immerse yourself in a new culture, work on...