Summer High School Programs in Dominican Republic with Rustic Pathways

Video and Photos

Black Water Treatment: Service Project
Black Water Treatment: Service Project
Samaná Beach
Samaná Beach
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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 16 - 30 of 64
Default avatar
Abby
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Dominican Republic Island Living & Eco-Service

I was a little bit hesitant in the beginning coming on this trip knowing no one, but after getting to the airport and meeting everyone going on the same program as me, I knew I would have a good time. This program was educational and fun. I had a great time and I hope to go back for more years to come. I made some great friends that I hope to keep for a long time and the service I did here had a great impact on me. The food was phenomenal, having a home cooked meal basically everyday 3 times a day was great. All of the hiking and swimming we did was super fun and the service we did really helped out the people in the communities that needed it. We also learned about many different things and about the culture. This has by far been my favorite trip that I have ever been on and I highly recommend it to anyone that is thinking about it.

What was your funniest moment?
One of the funniest things that happened on this trip was in the middle of the night when we were staying at one of the lodges. One girl went to go to the bathroom and there was a frog in the toilet and everyone started screaming and laughing so hard.
Default avatar
Leila
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Experience in the Dominican Republic

Over the past summer, I got the opportunity to join a Rustic Pathways Trip to the Dominican Republic. This trip was an extremely valuable experience for me and allowed my to come more out of my shell. Before attending this program, I was just a shy high school student who was a little too afraid to put myself out there. When offered the opportunity I was scared but ready to try and enact positive change in the world. This experience has offered me the opportunity to meet and work with new people and collaborate with others in an efficient way. Thanks to this program I have now become more open and I have been able to take more leadership in day to day tasks. I am forever grateful for this life changing experience and I hope this review helps you decide whether or not to join Rustic Pathways.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Before coming on this trip, I had never traveled alone. Being able to successfully meet the departure site gave me the new experience of solo travel and taught me to be more confident.
Default avatar
mariana
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Public Health in the Caribbean

I did this program because I would like to go into the medical field. This trip showed me the types of health facilities in the Dominican, and how people live and work. This program also helped me get my Wilderness First Aid Certificate. The class was very fun and informational. For a few days we mixed cement and built floors for multiple houses. We also finished working on a latrine. For two days we went to four different villages to weigh children and hand out vitamins to the village residents. For the final two days we went to the beach and hung out. The entire trip is one that I will never forget. I highly recommend this program for anyone wanting to go into the medical field and is not afraid to shovel lots of dirt and mix a lot of cement.

What would you improve about this program?
More days handing out medication at health clinics
Default avatar
Carmen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Service Off the Grid!

What was the most fun on this trip? Perhaps it was running around the community late at night, playing Cops and Robbers with the local kids. Or, falling in the river one afternoon and laughing so much that it made swimming difficult. It could very well have been frolicking at the beach. One of the highlights was our third to last night. We were camping in the mountains, and it began to pour. So we rushed into our tents, mine stuffed with 6 people, and waited for it to end. Only, it didn't. So after half an hour, my friends and I recklessly left our tent to dance in the rain. It was freezing, and maybe a little foolish, but it was tremendous fun.
And what was the most impactful part of the trip? Maybe the long, informative bus ride through Santo Domingo and into the mountains. We experienced a completely different setting, climate, and culture. And the most unexpected impact was the bond our group built over those 9 short days. I cried the night before we left, and again at the airport when we all had to part.
But the definitive answer to both of these questions is service. It was during our service that we interacted with the community, learned about their lives and culture, and got to eat Dominican food!! Service is physically demanding, but insanely fun and a wondrous opportunity to learn.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Bring work gloves!! They are much needed and very stylish. And although the DR is tropical, the Mountains are chilly, so bring long pants and multiple sweaters!
Default avatar
Olivia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My summer in the DR

This summer I went on a service trip to the Dominican Republic. My trip was titled “public health in the Caribbean.” I have always been interested in medicine and public health, but I didn’t know what to expect. As soon as I showed up to the airport i was greeted by so many amazing girls and I immediately knew that it would be a great trip. We stayed in an amazing base house, and went to very informative and interesting NGO’S (non-government organizations) regarding women and children’s health and rights in the DR. After we learned the issues we had a man named Gary teach and certify us in first aid, cpr, and other wilderness first aid skills to use in the community health workshops. After this we went into the Batey communities and saw first hand the many issues that people in these communities face. Although they faced so many hardships, the people in these communities were so outgoing and caring. One of my favorite memories was when we were pouring a concrete for a family of 5, and the abuela gave us fresh mangos and coconuts. Her compassionate personality really stood out to me, and my whole group formed a really amazing and tight bond with her over the 5 days we worked to help the sanitation in the community. After doing the construction projects like pouring cement floors and building latrines, we used our knowledge of wilderness first aid to do public health workshops that went to 4 communities in the bateys. This was definitely the highlight of my trip, because we really got to know and understand what the families in the communities go through. We gave them anti parasite medicines, weighed and measured babies, gave vitamins and much more. When I got home, I realized how fortunate we all really are, and how important it is to help others who may not be in the best situations. Forming bonds with different people around the world is one of the things I love to do most in life, and this rustic trip really helped me do what I love.

What would you improve about this program?
Having a base house closer to the Bateys because of the long drive
Default avatar
Gabriel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Marine Life in The Dominican

My trip in the Dominican provided me with the experience of a lifetime. I got to meet some lifetime friends while working with a local NGO called Fundemar, but also got my eyes opened up to the impact of climate change on our oceans. The programs allowed me to create valuable and close social connections with fellow program members; and the program leaders passion for this cause drove my heart towards this cause as well. Thank you Rustic for giving forever friends and an unforgettable experience.

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Gabby
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Missing my rustic family

I don’t know where to start!! My program was amazing and was such a relief opening experience. It’s been almost a month since I went on my trip and I would do anything to be with my group again. In the summer leadership program, I was able to get so close with the people in my group and the kids we supervised. I highly recommend traveling with rustic because they accommodate to your needs and make you feel safe throughout your whole trip. The people I meet I will never forget and I will forever cherish the memories I made with the most amazing people in the world.

What would you improve about this program?
I would’ve liked to know the schedule of the day in more depth and done more service but otherwise I have no complaints
Default avatar
Alicia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life in the Bateys!

This summer I traveled to the Dominican Republic with Rustic Pathways. This was my second Rustic trip, and definitely not my last. The program was life in the Batyes, on this program we worked on building a house, latrines and floors in communities called Bateys. This was a critical Issues program, meaning we also learned about the issues and the history of the Bateys, the sugar cane industry, and workers. We also got a chance to run a summer camp for the kids from the Bateys, and we had some time to relax and great beaches. Throughout this program the work was satisfying and meaningful, we developed wonderful relationships with the people from these communities and among our student group. It was so hard to leave the Batey on our last service day, and say goodbye to everyone at the airport. The program leaders are inspiring, kind and very knowledgable they took great care of us 24/7. I have never felt so at home with strangers. I felt happy, safe and secure the moment I met my PL's and my group. On this program you learn so much not only about the Bateys and their history, but you live it by being a part of the community where you gain an understanding of what is truly important in life. Since the moment you sign up for a Rustic program to years after, Rustic makes you feel like part of an amazing community. I am so thankful for the opportunities Rustic has provided me. I am looking forward to next summer to create more wonderful memories with them.

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

Life in the Bateys!

This summer I traveled to the Dominican Republic with Rustic Pathways. This was my second Rustic trip, and definitely not my last. The program was life in the Batyes, on this program we worked on building a house, latrines and floors in communities called Bateys. This was a critical Issues program, meaning we also learned about the issues and the history of the Bateys, the sugar cane industry, and workers. We also got a chance to run a summer camp for the kids from the Bateys, and we had some time to relax and great beaches. Throughout this program the work was satisfying and meaningful, we developed wonderful relationships with the people from these communities and among our student group. It was so hard to leave the Batey on our last service day, and say goodbye to everyone at the airport. The program leaders are inspiring, kind and very knowledgable they took great care of us 24/7. I have never felt so at home with strangers. I felt happy, safe and secure the moment I met my PL's and my group. On this program you learn so much not only about the Bateys and their history, but you live it by being a part of the community where you gain an understanding of what is truly important in life. Since the moment you sign up for a Rustic program to years after, Rustic makes you feel like part of an amazing community. I am so thankful for the opportunities Rustic has provided me. I am looking forward to next summer to create more wonderful memories with them.

Default avatar
Michaela
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life in the Bateyes with Rustic Pathways

The Life in the Bateyes trip in the Dominican Republic was my first experience with Rustic. I went alone in the hopes of meeting some new people, as recommended by Rustic itself. We had 13 people, a group of 4, 2 groups of 2 (one of the groups of 2 knew the girls in the group of 4) and 5 people who came by themselves. With so many sub groups, it made it difficult to bond as a group as well as talk and connect with individuals. One of our trip leaders actually complained about it numerous times (not to us of course). Our base house was amazing! It was a NGO that worked to provide documentation to undocumented immigrants as well as legal representation for laborers. Meeting the nuns and learning what they do was extremely enlightening. The building itself was very nice and was beyond what I could have hoped for (minus warm water though it was so hot it didn't really matter). The service work was my favorite part. At some points though I didn't always feel that we were making an impact. All the work that we did though was sustainable which assisted in making us all feel like we were making a lasting difference on the bateye of Monte Coca. The packing list was pretty accurate for this trip. I did tend to wear more pants (blue jeans, capris, cargo pants) but I wasn't quite as effected by the heat as some of my fellow group members. Our trip leader were very conscientious of our health and always made sure that we drank lots of water and checked in with students to make sure that we didn't get any of the common illnesses that foreigners tend of get in the Dominican. When I got a splitter from a shell in the water on beach day, Angelica (one of the trip leaders) immediately put antibiotics on it and took out the piece that was lodged in my foot. Rustic is also very conscious of the many ways it can leave a minimal impact of the environment. Our base house was powered by solar energy and all the food that we ate was grown on the property. On our last few days in country we stayed at what is called an ecolodge, which is a whole mini resort if you will that has zero impact. Energy from solar panels, food from property, recycled rain water for sinks, toilets, etc. All in all I would recommend this trip to any high schooler as a way to practice some Spanish, learn about a different culture, and make a positive impact on someone life.

What would you improve about this program?
Amount of time working at our service location. I also wish that we hadn't had to drive all the way back to our base house to eat lunch and then had a whole hour of doing nothing after. We should just eat at the work site so that we can get more work done. My rustic trip leaders also tried to put me in a room alone when four other girls decided that they wanted to all be in the same room together. I then had to wait the lobby for close to an hour while the rest of my group got to go up to their rooms to be told that they couldn't put me in a room alone and took me upstairs to one of the other girl's rooms. The leaders needed to be more organized and be more conscious of how their actions were making me feel. And finally I understand the need for break days so that students can recuperate but 6 beach days in 2 and a half weeks is a bit much.
Lily
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

TRIP OF A LIFETIME!!

I was so excited to go to the Dominican Republic, I had been counting down the days for almost a whole year! I went on Mountain Air and Village service and the experience was life changing. My group was the third group to work on the aquaducts in the community and we finished the project and got to see the running water! It was such a great moment to see the running water and see how happy the locals were. The ranch we stayed at was so nice although I wish we had time to spend more time there. In the middle of the trip we went to the beach for a night and I had a great time! The ride there was certainly really long but worth it! I only had wished we had more time to spend at the beach and had left the base house earlier. For anyone looking into the trip I HIGHLY recommend going. I already cant wait for my trip next year with some of the same friends from this year!

What would you improve about this program?
Not have so much driving in one day.
Default avatar
Abby
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Public Health

I definitely recommend this trip. It was impactful, fun, and interesting. There was a good balance between service, learning, and fun. The other students were approachable and caring, as were our group leaders. The community service was rewarding yet enjoyable. I always felt safe and we always stick together as a group. The food was really good and our leaders ensured that there was always water available. The base house was also great.

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

Public Health in the Caribbean

Overall, this is a great program. The communication with parents throughout the trip was ideal. My largest complaint is in terms of the packing list. Jeans were much more useful than long shorts, so I would recommend bringing another pair. The accommodations were great, but a lot of time was spent traveling to and from service. The food was amazing, and the staff was always willing to adjust in order to accommodate all students.

What would you improve about this program?
The packing list could be adjusted.
Default avatar
Jaden
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Mountain Air Village Service

I was enrolled in the Mountain Air Village Service program. Overall the program was very enjoyable. I found the leaders to be very engaging and I enjoyed some very nice conversations with them. The volunteer work we did was hard work but the accomplishments felt tangible, since we finished the aqueduct the groups before us had also been working on. Seeing the water going through the entire thing and the reactions of the people who now had clean water was priceless and heartwarming. This trip was also great for meeting new people and it was really cool to meet people from all around the US and even a few from outside the US and just to connect with them. Overall this trip was very enjoyable and i’d reccomend it to anyone who is looking for an experience like this.

What would you improve about this program?
There isn’t much to improve with this program but if I had to say one thing, it would be that I would want more time set aside for souviners because we did not get much time for that.
Default avatar
Shauna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My som’s First trip

My 15 year old son went with Rustic Pathways on his first trip alone. We were looking for something easy to get to for a few weeks for his first adventure.
He had an amazing time! It seemed well organized and they had a nice balance between Service and other experiences in the community. I like the fact that the kids had to put away their electronics for the majority trip. I still had to get over having minimal contact, however.
At first my son didn’t feel comfortable speaking Spanish but by the end of the trip he felt more confident and was speaking Spanish to the locals. I really think that the work that they did, building an aqueduct felt meaningful to the kids and the locals.
There were many more girls than boys on this particular trip to the Dominican republic. By all reports, the trip was great! I only wish it was a little longer since he enjoyed it so much.

What would you improve about this program?
Maybe show the parents more pictures ;)