Summer High School Programs in Dominican Republic with Rustic Pathways

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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.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

94%
based on 45 reviews
  • Impact 9.2
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9
  • Value 9
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 31 - 45 of 45
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Jane
8/10

Rustic Pathways DR staff are amazing!

My daughter went on the Marine Life and Coastal Restoration trip in the Dominican Republic with Rustic Pathways this summer. She loves travel and service trips and the entire 'rustic' experience. Unfortunately she broke her thumb the week before and went on the trip with a waterproof cast, some pain and not a little anxiety. Although she was thrilled to still be allowed to do the trip, in the end she was not able to participate in the water activities, and was not really able to relax and enjoy herself, so she came home a week early.
I am writing because I wanted to remark on the DR staff members. I cannot thank Alexa, Nicole, Ben and Harry enough for everything they did. Alexa and Nicola took great care of Annie during the trip with her broken thumb and cast, and pain and anxiety. They are caring, warm, patient and insightful, and were wonderful to her and with her. Ben took her to the clinic to have her cast removed, after many conversations with us both, and then helped book her on a flight home. Harry drove her to the airport and made sure she got safely through security. I know they were both busy with other trips and students, but they still went out of their way to help us both. I was especially appreciative of their help and availability all the rest of that day when Annie's flight was delayed, and then delayed again, beyond the time of her Miami connecting flight, and I could not get in touch with her to talk to her about it. Harry and Ben both remained calm and assured me that they would get in touch with her and that all would be well, which it was.
So I highly recommend the Rustic Pathways trips because the staff are amazing, and they continued to be wonderful and helpful and calm even when things were not going as planned.
Sincerely,
Jane

Yes, I recommend this program
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Michael
9/10

Dominican Rebublic: Mountain Air and Village Service

Even though I was the only freshmen with people that I didn't know, I still felt welcome. The people that go on trips like these are always nice and willing to make friends. Also, the instructors were just as nice. The trip itself was half fun and half work which for me was the right amount. Before going to the Dominican Republic, you should learn just a little spanish so you aren't lost all the time... Overall, this was a great experience for me.

How can this program be improved?
I would make the hours when shopping at the market a lot longer.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Lilly
7/10

Fun Program

My experience with this program was pretty good. I was very exited to go one this trip however, I did not know much about it! I was disappointed to some degree because I was very exited to speak lots of Spanish, talk to tons of locals and learn about the government of this country but that was pretty limited.

Response from Rustic Pathways

Lilly, I regret that you did not have a stellar experience in the Dominican Republic. We work our hardest to offer the best possible experience, but know there's always room for improvement. I'm not sure what program you participated in but would recommend that you join our Life in the Bateyes program in the future. On this program you get an in-depth look at current social issues facing Haitian-Dominicans and the history of government policies and social prejudices against Haitians in the DR. Thank your for sharing your feedback. Over the years feedback like yours has helped us improve our programs, and we will take this opportunity to continue to do so. If you'd like to discuss your experience more, and offer us more feedback I'd be more than willing to speak with you on the phone. You can reach me at [email protected] or via phone at 440 487 7104.

Best,
Harry Alvarez
Dominican Republic Country Director

No, I don't recommend this program
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Olivia
10/10

Mountain Air and Village Service

This trip was a life changing experience. The staff was amazing and I still stay in touch with some of them. Together as a group we dug trenches and laid piping for the town to have an aqueduct. This was hard work, but the staff made it fun the whole time and allowed us to take numerous breaks making it bearable. It was amazing to see how thankful the community was and how much work they put into our project. The next day we were the leaders of running a camp for the kids. This was hard because the counselors stepped back and gave all the responsibility to us. This was amazing because you form a bond like no other with these kids. Not being able to speak the language you are forced to communicate in different ways. One of the little girls did my hair and put flowers into it, something that wouldn't usually happen in the United States. After long days of service we would have free time which was so fun and helped us build friendships, playing cards and banagrams after a long day of working in the dirt was so fun. The trip was the perfect balance between learning about the Dominican Republic culture and helping a community in need. The sights we saw such as beaches and waterfalls were one's I will never forget. The counselors taught us history of the DR and taught us their traditional dances that we were able to perform the last night when we had a going away type party. Everyone's ability to give up technology even when we were in areas that it was available made the experience so rewarding. This is an experience that I will never forget, and the friendships I made were amazing. I still stay in touch with over half of the people from my group.

How can this program be improved?
I wish we could have done more service on the trip. Though we did around 30 hours of community service, the 9 day trip could've allowed for more service work.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Claire
10/10

Life on the Bateyes- Best thing that has ever happened to me

To say the least, this trip has been amazing. Not only did this trip incorporate the tourism side of the country, we also got to see the poorest areas of all-- the bateyes, where not many people get to visit. Going to both the agricultural and tourist areas of the country, we are able to really see the country, not only its beaches and waves but also its poverty. I got to learn more about the Dominican government, the sugar cane companies, and the hardships of the Haitian immigrants. This has really been an eye-opening experience for me, and I'm sure, the others in the group. 3 of us are even considering going on this same trip AGAIN next year. Aside from being in the impoverished bateyes, we also went around as a regular tourist would at the beautiful beaches, caves, and historical sites, so if you are interested in doing lots of community service, learning about Dominican culture, and also swimming in unbelievably beautiful beaches and caves, this trip is for you.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Gigi
10/10

This trip is life- changing !

If you want a fun, life- changing experience during your summer rather than sitting home on instagram (come on, we all know you do that;) ) then going on a rustic pathways trip is definitely for you! I participated in the Advanced Leadership Program and I am proud to say I came back a different, better person. The experience and bond I had with the little kids during the camp we ran was truly indescribable. As much as this trip was fun, it was also one of the hardest, most rewarding things I've ever done. Everyone on the trip got along well and I know I've made life long friends!

How can this program be improved?
Sometimes a lot of the girls felt as though there wasn't enough food to go around.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Erin
10/10

Best Cultural Experience

While in the Dominican Republic, I truly got to experience how the locals live and why us going there can impact their lives. Learning about what they have to deal with daily was opened my eyes to the fact that in the U.S., people have very easy and simple lives. When our running water is shut off, even if only for a few minutes, we act like it's the end off the world. In the DR the running water is not drinkable, you can't flush toliet paper. Things like this we take granted for everyday and it's amazing to know that the people there are grateful for what they have, even though they could complain about they have to go through.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Tara
10/10

Best trip ever!

I was nervous at first to travel by myself. But after my trip I realized that I have made life long friends and memories. I know that I made a difference through all the hard work we performed and I cannot thank Rustic Pathways enough for the most AMAZING experience!

How can this program be improved?
Maybe to spend more time with children.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Emerson
10/10

An Amazing Experience

There is nothing negative I have to say about my Rustic Pathways trip to the Dominican Republic. I met countless number of people who greeted me with opened arms and big smiles. We did adventurous activities that the entire group really enjoyed. And we also did community service that gave me a different understanding of how the people really lived like in the Dominican Republic. I would recommend Island Living and Eco-Service to anyone.

How can this program be improved?
We never really got a chance to feel at home in our base because of traveling so much. Although it was good to see the different parts of the Dominican Republic, two places would been enough. Four was pushing it to where we were sick and tired of being in the busses and cars.
Yes, I recommend this program
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L.
10/10

Life in the Bateyes

This two week program really changed the way I look at our world. Through our work in the community and the Bateyes, I realised how fortunate we are to have basic necessities such as a passport or running water.
The program taught me that there are people who cannot leave the sugar plantations because they do not own any documentation, which enables the plantation owners to exploit their people in a horrific manner. Through the service and the discussions we had with a local lawyer I learnt a lot about social responsibility.

The service itself was mostly physical labour, we were building a wall around a community centre and put cement floors in the houses of locals. Although this was very challenging, there is no better feeling than coming back after a day of hard work and realising what you have achieved. Besides, we were interacting a lot with the local children, who are incredibly grateful and welcoming.

The accommodations were a little bit rustic for the first week without air-conditioning, very few showers and of course no WiFi but this only improved my experience. The last part of the second week is spent in a resort, where you get to see the touristic and paradise-like side of the Dominican Republic, which is great because the contrast really makes you reflect on the previous two weeks.

The staff was always helpful and very nice and the security standards were high, as in any of the Rustic Pathways programs.

This was my second trip with Rustic and I would really recommend it to anybody who wants to experience this entirely different part of our world.

How can this program be improved?
A few more tools for the students, who were working on the wall would have been useful, since there was a lot of waiting for others to finish. But that was really a minor issue.
Yes, I recommend this program
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madeline
9/10

Advanced Leadership Challenge

We spent the first few days preparing for the camp. We did team bonding activities such as rafting, hiking, and camping. When the first day of camp arrived, we were faced with a very hyper group of 30 kids. These kids were ages 5-12. At times, they didnt listen to the instructions or wouldnt want to participate, but that is common for all camps. It was amazing seeing these kids get to experience new opportunities. For example, when they saw a shower for the first time all their faces lit up and they were all screaming of joy. We visited their town which really made me appreciate everything I had. After 6 exhausting days of camp, we relaxed on the beach. We took a catamaran out and went to many cool snorkeling spots and beaches. It was an amazing trip.

How can this program be improved?
The only part I didn't like, being an unathletic girl, was the hike.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Caitlyn
10/10

Dominican Repuclic

Truly amazing experience, wouldn't replace it for anything. It made me more aware of how I want community service to be a bigger part of my life. The people are so kind there, and it made me realize how fortunate I am. The rustic pathways staff was very friendly and welcoming; I always felt safe and knew I could talk to them about anything.

Yes, I recommend this program
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ayemariee
9/10

How "Life in the Bateyes" changed my life

Going to the Dominican Republic last summer truly, as cliché as it sounds, changed my life. Before I was so self conscious of what I did not have (for various reasons), but now I feel ashamed that I used to feel that way. Not until I stepped inside of Batey Margarita, did I know how many people in our world are suffering. I am lucky enough to be blessed with an abundant amount of resources that I overlooked and abused and I wish I would have realized earlier that I could do something more productive with all of the opportunities and people around me. In the Bateyes I visited, the struggle for survival is real. Starvation, malnutrition, and diseases are daily realities for these people. My experience truly changed my life, and my way of thinking.
I cannot describe a typical day because each day was so unique and astounding. My time in the Dominican Republic was extraordinary, but I do have one story about a young boy who I will never forget. My third day in the Dominican Republic, our group went to a small community center in Batey Cachena, where I met this young boy, named Ricardo (spelling is probably wrong).
What caught my attention was that he sat alone in a small corner of the small building while all of the other children were playing, dancing, and coloring. So I walked up to him with my stickers, crayons, and coloring books in hand. I introduced myself and as soon as I did, he just smiled, gapped tooth and all. I lifted up the sticker sheet and asked him if he wanted a sticker. He stared at me with a confused look, so I pulled one off and stuck it to his forehead. Immediately he began giggling and showing it off to all the other boys. Later in the afternoon, I found out that he did not know how to count. So we sat down together for the rest of the day, and I stuck stickers all over his arms, face, hands, and legs, making him count almost to twenty, which was a vast improvement. Initially he could not count to four!

Many of my peers think that community service is just something school officials force us to do as a graduation requirement. However, for me, community service is a way of giving back and I do it because I want to. I knew that my time in the Dominican Republic would not always be easy, because it was very demanding. The physical labor was draining, and the mental fatigue I experienced when I saw how poor Batey inhabitants’ living-conditions was crushing! However, the most demanding challenge was to develop the ability to connect with people who were completely foreign to me, but I conquered that and now have strong relationships with many of the locals that I met.

My experience in the Dominican Republic has led me to believe that community service is essential to a more empathic individual. Community service is not a choice: community service is a moral necessity! My short adventure has made me want to do more for those communities that I visited. I know I can make a difference in the Bateyes, and I yearn for an opportunity to do so.

Because of my time in the Dominican Republic, I was given a chance to explore myself as an individual, but without my support system, I would have never been given the opportunity to participate in this program. I want the people living in Bateyes to feel the same way as I do, to feel like they have a support system, and realize that there are people out there to help them. Like how I know there are people out there to help me.

I recommend this program to every single person I meet!!

How can this program be improved?
I think our group was too big, which allowed people to get too comfortable with our group, and not interact with the locals as much.
Yes, I recommend this program
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LBF
10/10

Amazing!

I couldn't have asked for a better trip. Being able to interact with the community members and working with them to improve the conditions there was by far my favorite part. I love the staff, the program, and the people of the Dominican Republic.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Katie
9/10

La Jagua

I really enjoyed being in the village of La Jagua because it was a life I hadn't experienced before. I really wanted to help build the aqueduct and I did, but I would've liked to work on it a little more. I did love the dance classes but I was expecting to be able to do a little more work when I signed up for the trip. I loved the expeditions to Rancho Baiguate and also white water rafting. The staff was awesome! The living arrangements were ideal and I loved having a local cooking all of our meals because it was truly part of the cultural experience. Overall, it was a great experience.

How can this program be improved?
I would've liked to see a little bit more of Santo Domingo but maybe we didn't because of the weather. That's about it!
Yes, I recommend this program

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