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Costa Rican Rainforest Exploration And Cultural Immersion Teen Volunteer Program

Get introduced to the world of volunteering abroad in this dedicated under 18s project in Costa Rica


Program Information

Experience everything a Latin American adventure should be when you discover Costa Rica with a team of international under 18 volunteers. Assist in construction projects for underprivileged children from your base in beautiful Manuel Antonio, with time to relax on stunning beaches, see tropical wildlife and immerse yourself in the laid back, friendly culture.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

This project has been specially designed for those looking to volunteer, but are aged between 15 and 17 years old. Throughout this project, our younger volunteers will have greater supervision, training, and world-class leaders in the field who have been chosen for their mix of relevant experience and ability to mentor and inspire young people.

Travel to Central America and to the endless rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica. You will join forces with a team of international volunteers and our dedicated in-country field staff in contributing to construction projects, working in the community of Quepos and living in Quepos.



You will become truly immersed in this fascinating country. The tico way of life is relaxed, open and friendly, making it the perfect location to introduce yourself to volunteering and a different country and culture, under the guidance of our qualified and full time staff.

Balanced between volunteer work, adventure activities and cultural excursions, this trip is an excellent opportunity to experience everything a Latin American adventure should be, but one that also benefits the local community.

Please note that this program offers durations of 2, 3 or 4 weeks. Please speak to your Country Expert for further information.

Highlights include…

Make a difference even over the short term; enjoy deep cultural immersion; relax on stunning Costa Rican beaches; view a range of tropical wildlife in lush rainforests in the Manuel Antonio National Park; enjoy a 4-day adventure trip in and around the exciting town of Turrialba; overall, make a genuine difference on this volunteer trip to Costa Rica.

Program Details

Project Life

Volunteering

Your adventure begins once you arrive in the tropical paradise of Costa Rica at Juan Santamaria Airport. Travelling to a hostel in San Jose, you will have time to relax from your long flight, take in your new surroundings and get to meet the rest of your group. The next day, will see us transferring to your new home, Manuel Antonio. Upon arrival there will be a brief orientation, including a welcome presentation, the history and background on our projects in the area, a guided tour of the community and conclude with a health and safety briefing.

Over the next couple of days, you will undergo a specific training plan depending on the construction project your group will be working on. Before your group begins work on their project, there will be one last training session involving the materials and tools that will be used during your construction project.

The Work Begins…

Based at one of our local partners, this is where the fun begins and you get to apply everything that you have learnt over the last couple of days! The exact construction work will depend on the needs of the community at the time, but volunteers can typically expect to be involved in some basic maintenance, building and renovation work or painting and brightening up the classrooms with murals or other artwork.

At the end of your project, your final day will see you putting the finishing touches to your project, getting ready to present it to our partners and community members. This will also present a chance for you to meet our other GVI volunteers and learn about the projects they have been working on as well as how your work has contributed to the overall mission and objectives of GVI in Costa Rica.

Adventure Side Trip 

Your last week in this coastal paradise, kick starts with an awesome Quepos Water and Forest Adventure Weekend! If you’ve always wanted to learn how to surf, well now is your chance, with a three hour surf lesson in the morning! The rest of the day is yours to spend relaxing on the beautiful beach and taking in the natural beauty of the surrounding area. Sunday will begin with an early start, hiking up through the beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park, to get up close and personal with the diverse wildlife and explore the stunning beaches and forests nestled within.

Prepare yourself for an adrenaline rush!

Your final week in Costa Rica will see you embark on a weeklong adventure side trip! Starting from Quepos we will take the scenic, long journey to central Costa Rica, and settle into accommodation in the quaint town of Turrialba. During your stay you will have the chance to participate in a world class white-water rafting experience.

Our last day in Turrialba, will begin shortly after breakfast, when we arrive at a lush tropical area with exclusive use of a private canoeing park! Here you will experience an unforgettable adrenaline rush as you zip across four canopy cables through the forest, rappel down four waterfalls and gingerly walk across a 132ft long suspension bridge.

On your last day, you will return to San Jose and prepare to say your final goodbyes. Before going to the airport, you will sit down with your group and review your experience, reflect upon the trip and your own individual experiences. After some last minute shopping and one last dinner, you will be dropped off at the airport to make your way home with a camera filled with amazing photos, new friends and a myriad of experiences that will be with you for life.

Project Details

As with all GVI volunteer programs, our work is determined in collabouration with community members and will focus on current local needs. Your primary focus will be on assisting on a building or maintenance project.

How this project makes a difference

Your presence as a volunteer will aid in ensuring we can meet our goal and the community’s needs. The building project that will be completed will serve to create more suitable learning environments for the children we support through our educational programs. We are also partnered with world-renowned organisations such as Sea Turtle Conservancy, Panthera and Coastal Jaguar Conservation.

Quepos' short, mid, and long-term objectives


All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.Upon arrival to

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
 Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Quepos:


1. Improve access to education and wellness to El Cocal community

2, Increase environmental awareness in the local community

3. Improve English literacy levels in Quepos community and surrounded areas

4. Ensure that GVI Quepos base provides volunteers and interns unique, safe, responsible travel experiences, exceptional training and career development opportunities, and facilitate the ability to make a real difference

Your Impact

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.


Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.


Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.


What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Adventure and cultural activities
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Dedicated GVI leaders
  • Extensive pre-departure service including packing lists, fundraising advice, advice on travel arrangements, a thorough pre-departure orientation
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — Traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.


Support

Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Safety

Upon arrival at the airport participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. Our minimum staff to participant ratio is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.


Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov

HOW GVI UPHOLDS HEALTH AND SAFETY

It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.


1 Nov

GVI’S COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AND SECURITY

As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.


6 Nov

HOW GVI REMAINS PREPARED FOR NATURAL DISASTERS

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.


5 Nov

HOW GVI MANAGES PARTICIPANTS EXPECTATIONS

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.


The Team

Hannah Watson

Education Officer
Meet Hannah, our happy education officer. Hannah joined the GVI staff after she decided to work abroad in the field, in a more face to face role. She has a degree in Spanish and English Literature, evidently making her a perfect fit for this role!

Hannah also has other impressive experience working abroad. "I worked in Spain for a year as a language assistant in a primary school. I then went to Colombia and I ran a conversation club in a University. When I returned from Colombia I got a job with World Challeng. In between all this I have nnterrailed around Europe, spent a summer volunteering in a hostel in Barcelona, helped to lead an expedition to Morocco, cycled around Cuba, hiked in Peru, rocked around the Galapagos and Ecuador, spied on Orangutans in Borneo and chased Penguins in the Falkland Islands!"

Luis Jimenez

Logistics Manager
Meet Luis, our well-travelled logistics manager! Luis studied Arts History and also has degree in Human Resources. His first contact with volunteer work was when he was studying at the University of Costa Rica and worked on a project to protect the sea turtles at Ostional beach in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Luis has a culturally diverse background as his stepfather was German and he had the opportunity to get to travel to some European, American and Latin American countries.

The chance to contribute to community development and help shape the children’s futures is what first attracted Luis to GVI. He loves getting to know and work with all the volunteers from around the world!

Eunice Jimenez

Base Manager
Meet Eunice, our experience base manager here in Quepos. Eunice is a Biologist with a Masters in high school education and has volunteer experience doing construction work in the middle of a forest in Germany, rebuilding some public areas in a small village in the north of Spain, and working with marine turtles in Costa Rica. She has also been lucky enough to have travelled around Europe, China, Canada and the USA.

Her internship as a Environmental Educator was what set her career into motion and now, years later, she is still pursuing her passion for the environment and teaching. She loves working for GVI as it gives her the opportunity to make a difference and to work with people from all around the world!

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

Cynthia Arochi Zendejas

Costa Rica Country Director
Meet Cynthia, our Country Director in Costa Rica. She started out with GVI as one of our National Scholarship Program participants in 2006 and later became our Programme Coordinator in Mexico. Her skills and enthusiasm just made it too hard to let her get away!

Cynthia is a certified Veterinarian, an EFR Instructor and holds a Master’s degree in International environmental Science. She is also a member of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation, chapter Costa Rica.

The most interesting things she’s experienced during life in the field? “Watching the turtles hatching! Also finding jaguar tracks and being able to participate in community tours.” Apart from those, Cynthia also loves arranging and participating in the fun Charity Challenges with volunteers.

What does Cynthia think volunteers bring to the projects? Since our goal is to provide support to local organisations which don’t have the human or economic resources to achieve their conservation or sustainable development objectives, our volunteers play a key role by being the hands needed, or helping to fund raise for those projects.”

Select a Start Date

  • 2019
  • 2020

Select a Duration

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Select Add-Ons

+ R680
 
+ R1,020
 
+ R255
 
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+ R2,465
 

Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.