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
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
Surfing
Surfing
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 91 - 105 of 113
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Jamie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Turtle Conservation

The goal of this trip was to help save sea turtles. We helped in the hatchery carrying bags of sand and leveling out the sand. We also went on LATE/LONG night walks. We stayed in a beach hut. it was very humble no a/c but a nice chef. We went ziplining and horse back riding as well as white water rafting and surfing. I wish we did more optional activities. There was alot of free time which was spent napping because we didnt sleep at night because of the night walks. Over all it was an awesome experience i would definitly do again in a heartbeat.

What would you improve about this program?
Less free time. more group activities/bonding activites
Default avatar
Jenny
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

#sorustic

I felt very involved during the community service hours. I could feel myself making a difference. The optional activities were super cool like river kayaking to a waterfall. Also being able to talk to the locals really got you to see what life is like there.

What would you improve about this program?
The amount of downtime in between activities and service.
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Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Intro to Community Service

This trip was honestly the best experience of my life so far! The community service projects were definitely hard in the hot environment but it felt very rewarding. I loved teaching English to the kids who seemed go enjoy every minute of it and were very eager to learn. The ziplining and white water rafting were extremely fun and adventurous! Even just relaxing at the base house was great, talking to friends, playing soccer, and going in the pool. I met so many amazing people on this trip who will be my friends for life. This trip was an amazing opportunity that I am very happy I did!

What would you improve about this program?
I
Default avatar
Alison
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Heart of the Jungle

I just returned from Heart of the Jungle and the trip was two of the best weeks of my life. We travelled around Costa Rica, saw many parts, including Corcovado National Park, the Osa Peninsula, Puerto Jimenez, and Uvita, did extreme adventure activities, like rappelling, rafting, zip lining, hiking, and kayaking, and service- and all was with great friends!!! The leaders were incredibly enthusiastic, knowledgable, and fun! And the kids on the trip were also amazing!

Default avatar
M
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
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traveler1635
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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)

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costarica13
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
I wish I could have seen the impact of my service more clearly.
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Larissa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
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Carlotta
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
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KylieW
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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

What would you improve about this program?
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
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Taram
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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

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Halle
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

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Anna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

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Lilpuglet
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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.
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Cass
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.