Summer High School Programs in Dominican Republic with Rustic Pathways

Video and Photos

Samaná Beach
Samaná Beach
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Black Water Treatment: Service Project
Black Water Treatment: Service Project
Rustic Pathways Dominican Republic
Rustic Pathways Dominican Republic
Rustic Pathways Dominican Republic
Rustic Pathways Dominican Republic
Rustic Pathways Dominican Republic
Rustic Pathways Dominican Republic
We visited the colonial zone in Santo Domingo.
We drove through under privileged towns and communities.

About

Since Rustic Pathways started its first Dominican Republic programs in 2012, our goal has been to emphasize the people over the places. While our staff and students adore the pristine beaches and idyllic settings, our programs go much deeper than the average tourist’s trip.

Each program in the Dominican Republic dives deep into service opportunities, whether through community development, environmental stewardship, or public health, and allows our students to connect with members of the communities where they serve.

While you’ll be sure to enjoy the picturesque beaches and tranquil mountains, you’ll also understand what life is really like for Dominican people. Next to resorts lie marginalized, impoverished communities called bateyes. Dominicans face many challenges and they have big hearts, warm personalities, and enjoy sharing their fun-loving culture.

Popular Programs

Work alongside health care professionals on high-impact public health projects across the Dominican Republic. Explore the diverse regions of this beautiful Caribbean island while immersing yourself in local culture and practicing your Spanish in a healthcare setting. Identify the health needs of rural, urban, wealthy, and impoverished communities and help develop meaningful public service initiatives.

Explore the crystal blue waters of Bayahibe Bay and the beautiful Caribbean Sea. Work alongside marine biologists to rebuild the coral reef habitat that is home to many marine species, including manatees, dolphins and sea turtles. Learn biological techniques to monitor sea animals in the wild. Get muddy as you work to rebuild the mangrove swamps of Los Haitises National Park. Contribute to antipollution projects with local ecological organizations.

Create and run a day camp for marginalized young students in the Dominican Republic. First, bond with your group as you hike and camp the mountain town of Jarabacoa. Work together to plan games and learning activities for a six-day camp. Teach English, play sports, and have a blast with the young kids and learn more about their lives in the Dominican Republic. After all the hard work, relax with a catamaran tour and snorkeling around Saona Island.

Explore mangroves, reef formations, and marine wildlife at Los Haitises National Park and Samaná peninsula. Get your hands dirty as you work on ecological restoration projects and learn from experts and communities about the efforts to maintain the extensive biodiversity of the region. Venture to hidden caverns to see ancient Taino cave paintings, and soak up the sun on some of the island’s most beautiful beaches.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

95%
based on 64 reviews
  • Impact 9.2
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9
  • Value 9
  • Safety 9.4
  • Growth 9.6
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.7
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 9.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 64
Default avatar
Mia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Summer Camp Leadership Program

This summer, I traveled to the Dominican Republic to work in a summer camp for thirty local children ages 9-13. The Summer Camp Leadership program was one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had. I went on this trip alone and I was very scared to meet new people. I was nervous that no one would like me or that I would get homesick. It is nerve-racking to go to a completely new country, not knowing the language, people, or culture. Straight off the bat, I felt welcomed by the amazing program leaders and the other caring students. We all really connected by doing ice-breaker games and bonding over our many similar interests. Aside from the six-day summer camp that we ran and the consistent volunteering opportunities we had, this trip consisted of camping in the beautiful mountains, swimming in the crystal clear water, and exploring the cities of Jarabacoa and Santo Domingo. When I signed up for this program, I did not know what to expect. I knew that I wanted to work with children but did not fully understand how I would approach this foreign community. Throughout these 16 days, I learned how to communicate with people from different backgrounds and, most importantly, I learned what it means to be a leader. I realized that communication is the utmost important part of being a good leader. As I learned from the first couple of days of running the summer camp, communication is the key to creating a successful and inclusive environment. Although this program was challenging, mentally and physically, I am extremely thankful that I had the opportunity to experience a completely new culture with a new group of friends. I knew that I could always count on the program leaders and my new friends to be by my side throughout the two weeks. Thanks to this trip, I felt a true connection to the people around me and to the work I was doing. I really recommend this trip to anyone who is passionate about being a part of a new community and enjoying every aspect of it.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice for future travelers on this program is to go out of your comfort zone and really try to get to know your program leaders and the other students. The program leaders are all super nice and are there to help you with whatever it may be. Whether you are homesick or just need a high five, you can always count on the program leaders to be there. If you decided to go solo, I guarantee you that most of the students on this trip also came alone and it is important to befriend as many people as possible. By going out of your comfort zone and meeting new people, your experience in the Dominican Republic will only get better.
Default avatar
Natalie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Summer Camp Leadership

This summer, I went on my first service trip. I went to the airport, terrified. I was scared of meeting people, scared of leaving the country, and not knowing the language. I came back from my trip, excited, passionate, and ready to continue exploring. Throughout my trip I learned so many things that have improved my outlook on the world. From the first day, I started to fall in love with the country, the culture, and the people I was meeting. I quickly became close with everyone in my program through team bonding and leadership games, making all the rest of my fears a lot easier to handle. The amount of service was well balanced with exciting adventures. One of the most memorable nights was camping in the mountain town of Jarabacoa. We took a four-hour ride on a safari truck to get there and then spent the afternoon hiking to a swimming hole. When we got back, we played with the local children while their family cooked us a traditional domination dinner. Before spending a night in tents, we made a fire and sat with the family while they told us ghost stories. This experience was one of many that made me so thankful for this adventure.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Embrace the culture, immerse yourself in its every aspect. The food, the dancing, the language, all of these impacted both my experience and what I took away from the program. The Dominican Republic is an amazing place filled with amazing people and during the time that you're there taking a moment to absorb it all will truly enhance your experience.
Default avatar
Nicolas
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Adventures in the Dominican Republic

When I first signed up for the trip to the Dominican Republic I did not know what to expect, since I didn't have any prior knowledge about the country. This trip with Rustic Pathways was my first time visiting the Dominican Republic, and I have to say it was a very interesting experience. I am from Mexico, and I decided to embark on this Rustic trip with a couple of my friends. It was a lot of fun to go on a trip like this with my friends from home, but another part of a trip like this that is a highlight is getting to know other people, which for me are from a different culture. It was a really fun and enriching experience to get to know a group of new people so well and work alongside them on service. That was another highlight of my trip, the service. As a group, we got to work on tons of different service projects in the country. We did beach cleanups and coral reef observations with an organization called FUNDEMAR. Here we got to see the beauty of the ocean that surrounds the Dominican Republic, and the environment we were trying to help protect. Another part of the service was planning and executing a day camp for some kids at a local school. I am lucky enough to be bilingual and being able to understand the kids was interesting for me because I got to get a better understanding of their lives, and the similarities between the Caribbean and Latin American countries. Although, this doesn't mean that you have to speak Spanish. Quite the contrary actually, the English speaking members of my had an even more interesting time laughing while they tried to understand the kids and have the kids understand them. Overall, this program was a lot of fun, and it allowed me to experience the culture and the environment of a new country.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I feel like the most surprising thing that I ate wasn't one specific thing, but more just the general food that they have. It's not that the food is weird or bad at all, it was really good. But when I went there I kind of assumed that it would be really similar to Mexican food. And I was extremely surprised when I realized that Dominican food has absolutely NOTHING spicy. No chile or salsa or anything like that. I was really surprised at how different it was.
Default avatar
Molly
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life in the Bateyes Experience!

My Rustic Pathways experience was incredible. From the moment I met my fellow travelers in the airport, I was overwhelmed with a sense of community and excitement. Throughout the trip, it was completely life changing to see the different ways of life in these developing communities and it gave me perspective. Not only did my Rustic experience change the lives of the communities we partnered with, it changed my own life significantly. While I was living in this new country for two weeks, learning Spanish from community members, and developing teamwork, I found confidence and fueled my curiosity. I would highly recommend this program to any traveler looking to broaden their understanding and perception of the world, complete deeply meaningful community work alongside new friends, and indulge themselves in a unique culture.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you approach this experience with an open mind, you will gain so much from this program. By engaging with culture and experience, you will have a life changing experience that opens your perspective to different cultures, lifestyles, and realities for these communities. It is amazingly eye-opening.
Default avatar
Caroline
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Truly Amazing Experience

Going to the Dominican Republic is a truly amazing experience. It was by far the best two weeks of my summer and I have met friends that I will have for a lifetime. We took part of many educational activities, but we had so much fun. Service was balanced perfectly with fun activities. We worked hard but we would always look forward to coming back to our base house and swimming in the pool, or playing with the dogs. We visited beautiful beaches and spent a day touring a major city. The trip was the perfect length of time and at the end we all wanted to stay longer. The accommodations were very comfortable. The program leaders were so fun and were one of the best parts of the whole trip. I would completely recommend taking part in this enriching experience.

Default avatar
Elizabeth
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My experience in the Dominican Republic

The program that i did was marine life and costal restoration which was focused on cleaning up the beaches and helping out a local nonprofit. I was really nervous going into the trip but as soon as I met the other people in my group, I was really excited because everyone was so cool. Our trip leaders were really friendly and helped you with any issue you could have had, and they made sure everything was really safe for us. The trip was 16 days long, and even though it wasn’t that much time, my whole group bonded and become so close and we had the best time together. The travel process was really easy because of all the instructions and procedures that the the trip leaders follow, so that wasn’t stressful at all. This trip was the one of the highlights of my summer and I loved it so much that I’m going on another trip with rustic pathways again this summer! I 10/10 recommend doing one of these trips because of how meaningful the work is that you do, and you reflect back on the trip knowing that you made an impact somewhere and tons of fun doing it too!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The most unfamiliar thing I ate was lionfish at a local woman’s home. It was kinda scary looking and was unlike anything I had ever seen, I tried a small bite and I was surprised by how flavorful it was, and it was really cool that we got to help make it too!
Default avatar
Natalie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Marine Life and Coastal Restoration in the Dominican Republic

Instead of sitting around on the couch this summer, I wanted to make a difference. My Rustic Pathways trip changed my life and opened my eyes. I found a love in community service and helping others. I see the Earth, not as a thing, but my home that we need to save. I loved working at the kid's camp and creating bonds with the children. I enjoyed learning about different cultures and the history of the Dominican Republic. I really enjoyed working with FUNDEMAR, and organization dedicated to saving the coral reefs. I learned so much on this trip and I grew passionate about saving the ocean and the coral reefs. I can't thank Rustic Pathways and my Program Leaders enough for giving me the experience I got. I want other people to have the same opportunity I had.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice to future travelers on this program is to really live in the moment. This trip will go by so fast and sadly we can't go back in time. Enjoy every second of the trip and really apply yourself in your service.
Default avatar
Natalie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Marine Life and Coastal Restoration in the Dominican Republic

This past summer I went to the Dominican Republic with Rustic Pathways. It was not only life-changing but probably the most fun I have ever had. I learned so much and found a love of the ocean. Every hour of community service we did I felt so useful. I felt like I was finally doing something important and something that will help many people. I am so happy I got to go on this trip and I recommend this trip to everyone. I loved learning about the Dominican Republics' history and culture because that's something I haven't learned in school yet. A highlight of the trip was running a kids camp and meeting the children. It's crazy how I created special bonds with so many kids and we didn't even speak the same language. It showed me I can be friends with anyone and everyone. I'm so glad I signed up for this trip and found Rustic Pathways. It is an amazing program that I will never forget.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice to future travelers on this program is to really live in the moment and enjoy what's around you. Sadly you can't go back in time and relive any moment so enjoy every second of the trip because its truely amazing and will change your life.