|Dates:||July 6 – July 27|
|Grade||9th, 10th, 11th & 12th|
(Students Grouped According to Age)
*Airfare for group flight from Los Angeles additional
Learn More About Us
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- Build Village Infrastructure in a Fijian Island Community
- Teach English in a Fijian Primary School
- Volunteer at an Australian Kangaroo & Wildlife Habitat Center
- Live with Local Families in a Traditional Fijian Bure Home
- Work with a Conservation Non-Profit in the Daintree Rainforest
- Explore Sydney’s Famous Landmarks
- Earn PADI SCUBA Certification on the Great Barrier Reef
- 40 Hours of Community Service.
For almost 20 years, ARCC students have ventured into the heart of Beqa Island, comprised of nine unique villages and known as the ‘Island of Firewalkers’. Here locals live as they have for centuries and struggle to improve their livelihoods due to a lack of support and resources.Through projects directed by the Village Chief, we have installed community generators, refurbished classrooms, constructed sidewalks and a seawall, incorporated English education in the local primary school and more. Continuing our work on milestone projects, we feel an overwhelming sense of community and impact.
Venture across the South Pacific to discover Australia and the tropical Fijian Islands. For nearly twenty years, ARCC has cultivated relationships with our faraway friends and given back to their warm and welcoming communities. Teach English at a primary school on Beqa Island and lead after-school activities. Improve the infrastructure of a small island village by completing hands-on projects designed to enhance their tiny community. Stay with families in traditional Fijian bures where you’re greeted by the village chief with a traditional kava ceremony. Encounter paradise on a perfect deserted island dotted with coconut palm trees. Walk through the iconic Sydney Opera House and take in the exquisite views across the waterways of the Sydney Harbor. Experience the natural beauty and vibrant marine life of the Great Barrier Reef as you SCUBA dive and snorkel from a live-aboard boat. Participate in a conservation project in Northern Australia. Get up close with kangaroos and work with rangers to improve the habitats at a Wildlife Center. Stroll through the lush rainforest of Wooroonooran National Park, swim in waterfalls and slide down a natural rock slide. Return home with a sense of fulfillment and new friendships from across the globe.
Travel to Fiji
Groups for our Australia & Fiji summer service program meet in Los Angeles and fly to the tropical island paradise of Fiji. Shortly after arriving, we take a boat to Beqa Island and prepare for our service adventures ahead. Having welcomed our groups for nearly twenty years, we are greeted warmly with smiling faces and excited children.
Primary School Teaching Service
As part of our community service program, we teach primary students 6-12 years old in Naiwaisomo Village. Through a series of activities, games, and songs, we instruct alongside the local teachers to further their student’s knowledge of English, Math and Science.
Our Own Fijian Deserted Island
Next, we travel by boat to an uninhabited island and set up camp for a day of fun and night under the stars. Locals may visit us to climb the trees and offer up coconuts while we play in the turquoise water. While enjoying ‘island time’, we reflect on our service efforts and collaborate on how we can continue to impact these small communities.
Beqa Island Village Service
We learn first hand about Fijian culture and traditions as we work side by side with our new Fijian friends during our next service project. We discover first-hand that any improvement to the village has a direct effect on the quality of life for everyone. We work hard to continue the work we have completed for years in this community by tackling locally directed projects that directly impact the villagers and their community. Working hand-in-hand with our hosts we forge strong connections to these villages. Saying goodbye to Beqa Island we travel back to the main island of Viti Levu by boat. We celebrate our last evening in Fiji with a traditional meal and prepare for our adventures ahead in Australia!
Wooroonooran National Park & Wildlife Refuge
After a connecting flight to Cairns, we make our way to Wooroonooran National Park, one of the most diverse places in the Wet Tropics World Heritage area and host to some of the oldest surviving rainforest in the world. We swim under waterfalls, slide down a natural rock slide and take in our surroundings.
Next, we volunteer at a wildlife center and refuge in Port Douglas. We have the opportunity to get face-to-face with wildlife which may include kangaroos, wallabies, birds of prey, goannas, snakes, koalas and an assortment of other Aussie animals. We lend a hand completing needed maintenance tasks that keep the facility in working order.
SCUBA Diving Australia’s Great Barrier Reef
In Cairns, Australia, we have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to SCUBA dive one of the world’s premier diving location: the Great Barrier Reef. We complete coursework in the classroom and pool as we log 5 dives to achieve our PADI Open Water Certification or upgrade to an Advanced Open Water certification completing 9 dives. We stay one night on a liveaboard boat that is moored at the reef allowing us to complete our dives among the brilliantly colored corals, giant clams, turtles and over 1,500 varieties of tropical fish.
(All students wishing to SCUBA dive must pass a thorough diving physical and cannot have used an inhaler or suffered from asthma in the past three years. Additionally, students with ADHD who are or have been taking Ritalin, or any of its derivatives, will NOT be permitted to dive. For those who are unable or not wishing to dive, alternative water activities are available.)
We say goodbye to the coastal community of Cairns and head to the bustling city of Sydney for a couple days of sightseeing. Sydney is home to the world-famous Opera House and Harbor Bridge, both on top of our list of things to see. Located in the heart of the city, our hostel lets us taste the best Sydney has to offer. We are a short walk from Darling Harbor, and a beautiful ferry ride away from Manly Beach.
“This trip was so amazing. I never thought I would experience something like I did on this trip. I feel so thankful for this experience, the people I met and the memories. I wouldn’t trade this for anything. I had a summer of a lifetime and made everlasting friends! Thanks ARCC! ”— Bri R., ARCC Student
“LOVED it! This was the greatest month of my life. I learned so much and experienced so many new things. I also love the people I met on my trip and these two amazing countries!
“This trip was absolutely incredible. I have made so many lifelong friends. Seeing how the Fijian people were so happy without many material possessions changed my life.”— Jackie D., ARCC student
“ARCC gave me the best summer of my life! ”— Tory H., ARCC student
“This was a trip in which you learn about yourself and other cultures we would not normally be exposed to. You get to see the world while helping others. It is an experience that I would never trade for anything.”— Lindsay H., ARCC student
“Cory had a fabulous trip! He loved his group and the area of the world this venture allowed him to see. He enjoyed the service aspect of Fiji as well as playing with the children there. He also said the water was ex- tremely beautiful. Australia was a fabulous component. He thoroughly enjoyed the diving, the cultural aspects of Sydney and the whitewater rafting. All in all, a marvelous experience for him.”— Parent of Cory C.
“I would like future students to know that they are in for the time of their lives. It is impossible not to smile a thousand times a day or laugh all the time when you’re surrounded by encouraging leaders and friends who share a common interest. ARCC took me out of my comfort zone and made me feel so much more comfortable. ”— Adriana V., ARCC Student
“ARCC has prepared me mentally for college next year. I feel more confident, independent and have a great appreciation for travelling.”— Carmel C., ARCC Student
“I felt it was very well organized and well run. During the trip I felt as if my daughter was being well supervised and well taken care of and she always seemed very happy with the activities and adventures she was being exposed to. I felt like communication with the ARCC office was always easy and friendly and I felt very comfortable with the organization and layout of the trip’s itinerary.”— Parent of Gabrielle R.
“When you experience what I’ve experienced, you’ll find it’s better to discover the world together, with new people. With them I became a new person.”— Peter D., ARCC Student
Group Journal Excerpts
Below you will find several Group Journal excerpts, written by ARCC students during their Australia & Fiji summer service program:
Arrival in Australia!
G’Day! We have officially arrived in beautiful Australia, where we will spend our final week together. We began our journey in the ‘Land Down Under’ with a trip to Milla Milla Falls, nestled within Wooroonooran National Park. We swam in the water and even took turns sliding down a natural rockface that dumped into a…
Birthday Fun in Cairns, Australia!
Today was Jessica’s birthday! Yay! We had a blast celebrating her b-day with cake and ice cream. Though the cake was a nice ending to the day, we had the chance to partake in some other amazing and exciting activities during the day. First we went to the Wildlife Dome in Cairns where we got…
Our Private Fijian Island
Today we woke up on the private island of Nanuku. A few of us slept out on the beach, and we awoke to an amazing sunrise. We had a breakfast of oatmeal and fresh pineapple, and then headed onto the beach to enjoy the warm and sunny weather! We laid out, played beach volleyball, and…
Service in Fiji
Fiji Community Service Day 1 Today we woke up to another sunny day. We enjoyed another traditional Fijian breakfast and then went out onto the field to play a game called Birdie on the Perch. After that, we headed out to our work site. The day consisted of carrying bags of sand back and forth…
The Great Barrier Reef
For the past four days we have been exploring the deep seas of the Great Barrier Reef! The beauty and magnificence of the reef can be compared to living a scene from the movie Finding Nemo. We saw everything from small rainbow fish to terrifying reef sharks. Sea Turtles were also present during our stay!…
Trekking in Fiji
Bula! After traveling to Fiji, we began our 4 day trek through the Fijian highlands. Our first stop was to the village of Nusukamai. When we arrived, we were greeted by the village elders with a suva suva ceremony where we drank traditional Fijian kava. The long sleep that night definitely helped us rest up…
What is the packing list for this program?
Each program has a specific packing list that has been designed to fit the program’s activities, length, climate and cultural differences. Please click here to view the Australia/Fiji: Island Village Initiative packing list.
What will the weather be like in Australia and Fiji?
When in Australia, we spend most of our time in tropical north Queensland, which has a comparable climate to the Caribbean, sporadic showers and temperatures in mid 70s – mid 80s. During our time in Sydney, the weather can be a bit cooler (in the 60’s) which is perfect for exploring the city! In Fiji, we will be there during the dry season and island climate temperatures range from mid 70s – mid 80s.
What are the service projects like?
ARCC has been operating programs in Fiji for over nearly twenty years, and we have built relationships with local Fijians who enjoy hosting ARCC student groups. We have designed the service projects to help their communities. Projects will vary from painting, repairing and/or building additions to the local school, helping young students with their English skills, or making repairs on the village sea wall and footpath. We look to the Fijian community for ideas as to what will help their communities the most. We may also help out on a farm, collecting vegetables, coconuts or planting trees.
What kind of health precautions should I take before traveling to Australia and Fiji?
ARCC does recommend that you take some health precautions before your program begins in Australia and Fiji. When you enroll in the program, you will receive more complete information on pertinent travel vaccinations and immunizations. Please also refer to the Traveler’s Health section of the CDC website. Our leaders carry a full first aid kit, and are all certified Wilderness First Responders (WFR).
Where will we sleep?
During our time in Cairns, Australia we stay in a guesthouse in dorm-style rooms sleeping 4-6 students. We spend one night on a live-aboard boat while diving/snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. In Sydney, we stay in a centrally located youth hostel in dorm-style rooms sleeping 4-6 students. In Fiji, we stay in a guesthouse for the start and end of our time, also in dorm-style room sleeping 4-6 students. During our service project on Beqa Island, we stay in two basic homes in the village and consider it ‘camping style’ as we roll out our sleeping pad and bags for added comfort.
What is the transportation like once we are in Australia and Fiji?
While in Australia and Fiji we will get to each activity using various means of transportation: plane, bus and boat. We travel between Cairns and Sydney using Australia’s national airline and between Sydney and Fiji on Fiji Airways. We use both public and private charter buses once in Fiji and Australia. In Fiji, we travel by boat to get to the start of our service section.
What is the food like?
The food we eat is a mix of Western-style food (sandwiches, pizza, etc.) and traditional local food such as fish, taro, cassava and noodles. Breakfast often consists of fresh fruit and doughnut-style pastries. We will have a chance to sample coconuts right off the tree as well as a variety of other fresh fruits. Vegetarians and medical dietary requirements (i.e. allergies) are catered for. It does help if we are informed of this prior to departure date.
How much spending money should I bring?
We suggest you bring $75 per week + $25 for each travel day. This is for souvenirs, laundry, phone cards, clinic visits, and other incidentals. ARCC pays for all meals, lodging, transport and activities. There is time to shop for souvenirs both in Australia and Fiji. We recommend that your main source of spending money is in the form of an ATM card or pre-paid credit/debit card to avoid carrying a large sum of cash. We suggest you carry no more than $50 in cash (smaller bills) to have available during travel days. As with any international program, we strongly recommend talking to your bank about its international withdrawal policies to avoid any surprise fees or card cancellations.
Do I need a passport?
Yes, all students traveling to Australia and Fiji need to have a valid passport. Please make sure the passport expiration date is valid at least six months after you travel. Passport applications are available at the post office. If you do not already have a passport, you should apply for one as soon as you enroll in this program. It normally takes six weeks to process a passport application.
Do I need a visa?
Yes, you do need a visa to travel Australia. In the online enrollment packet you will receive soon after officially enrolling, there will be a visa application form. All you need to do is fill this form out and we will take care of all the processing that comes along with obtaining the Australia visa. There is no visa needed for Fiji.
What is the time difference between Australia, Fiji and the USA?
Fiji is on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) +12 which is 16 hours later than New York (Eastern Time), 17 hours later than Chicago (Central Time), and 19 hours later than San Francisco (Pacific Time).
Australia is on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) +10 which will be 14 hours later than New York, 15 hours later than Chicago, and 17 hours later than San Francisco.
Do I really need to bring a backpack, or can I bring a rolling suitcase on this program?
Although you will not be doing traditional backpacking on this program, it is important that you bring a backpack as your main piece of luggage. During the program the group will be navigating through airports, on and off buses, up and down stairways, and taking short hikes on unpaved paths. The group will be able to move much more efficiently if everyone is carrying their belongings on their back.
What kinds of supplies can we bring to donate for the people we meet?
Although completely optional, if you would like to bring some donations for the Fijian communities we are working with, recommended items include: used or new books, notebooks, pens, coloring books, art supplies. Please keep in mind, you will need to be able to pack this in your main bag, so smaller items are best.
Do I need to be SCUBA certified in order to come on this adventure?
Absolutely not! You and your group mates will go through a 4-day PADI Open Water SCUBA certification course. After completing this course, you will be able to dive anywhere in the world.
I’m already SCUBA certified, will I be stuck redoing classes that I have already taken?
No. All students who are already Open Water certified will go through a 3-day PADI Advanced Open Water Course where we can make sure everyone is up to PADI standards. During this section, you will get a chance to do deep dives as well as a night dive, and improve upon your skills.
If I don’t want to go SCUBA diving, will I be left behind while everyone else is diving?
No, if you choose not to dive you will still be able to travel with your friends to their dive sites. Everyone stays overnight on a live-aboard boat, enjoying the best the Great Barrier Reef has to offer. Off the boat, you can snorkel, swim, or just enjoy the sun, always staying right in the mix of things.