Costa Rica Impact
|Dates:||June 29 – July 12|
|Arrive:||San Jose, CR*|
|Depart:||San Jose, CR*|
|Grade:||9th, 10th, 11th & 12th|
(Students Grouped According to Age)
*Optional Leader Escorted Flight from/to Miami
Learn More About Us
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- Collaborate with Villagers on Impactful Construction Projects
- Tutor Local Students in a Rural Village School
- Explore Rainforest Waterfalls and Swimming Holes
- Work Alongside Experts on a Sea Turtle Conservation Project
- Lend a Hand on a Sustainable Farm
- Assist Turtle Hatchlings as They Make Their Way to the Ocean
- Immerse Yourself Completely in Costa Rican Culture
- 50 Hours of Community Service (9th Grade & Up)
Sea Turtle Preservation
On Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, we spend three days working with a local non-profit organization to preserve near-extinct sea turtles. By day we learn about sea turtle ecology and the gallant efforts put forth by the non-profit to protect these magnificent creatures. By night we earn our reward as we patrol the turtle nesting beaches to collect monitoring data on sea turtles and protect recently-laid eggs from birds and small animals in search of an easy meal. The turtles only nest at night, and we work on their schedule. Though the numbers of sea turtles are dwindling, we hope to be there to see the turtles laying their eggs or to help newborn hatchlings find their way back to the sea.
In a country of abundance such as Costa Rica, with rich rainforests, untouched beaches, and a rainbow of exotic wildlife, we find there are also many people in need. Delve into a unique ecology project working to protect sea turtles. Immerse yourself in the Costa Rican culture by working with school children and rural farmers on community service projects. Construct a building for a village in need, help plant a school garden and learn about ecological preservation and make a positive impact on the lives of others.
San Jose and Cultural Orientation
Our Costa Rica summer service program begins in its capital city San Jose, with a fun orientation to Costa Rican culture. Here we are able to adjust to “Tico time” while exploring lively markets and sampling typical local fare, before traveling to our next destination.
Teaching English & Cultural Exchange with Costa Rican School Children
This community service project brings us directly into the lives of Costa Rican youth. We arrive with much-needed supplies for their rural school and for two days we offer our help by teaching English to the village’s children. Our days are filled with cultural exchange as we engage them through activities, songs and play. Our efforts are rewarded by the smiles and laughter of our new Costa Rican friends.
Sea Turtle Preservation & Education on Conservation and Ecology
On the Caribbean coast, we spend three days working with a local non-profit organization designed to preserve near-extinct sea turtles. By day we learn about sea turtle ecology, explore the area on a canal tour to the river mouth, and spend time journaling and sharing with our group. We will also patrol the nesting beach nightly to collect monitoring data on sea turtles and protect recently-laid eggs. The turtles only nest at night, and we work on their schedule. Though the numbers of sea turtles are dwindling, we may be lucky enough to see turtles nesting along the beach, or to help out with the newborn hatchlings.
Service in Rural Costa Rica
ARCC groups have visited the coffee-growing high country of Savegre every summer since 1994. The families in this region live quietly and humbly, yet annually welcome us with open arms. For four days, we peek into another world where life is blissfully simple and pure. Side by side with our village hosts, we lend a hand in any way we can to make improvements to their modest village. We may paint and repair communal buildings in the village or work on a greenhouse project to grow saplings of native plants. The joy and gratitude of the village for our efforts is something we will not soon forget.
After two weeks of working, playing, learning and laughing, we conclude our program in San Jose with a final celebratory meal. We reflect on our time together and all that we have experienced as we depart on flights back home.
“My son came home feeling more empowered, and that he had really contributed to something worthwhile. He loved the teaching, and helping the family dig the trench. He was very impressed with their work ethic, and I think he learned a lot from that. Thank you for being the highlight of my son’s summer.”— Parent of Wesley M., San Rafael, CA
“It was a very positive growth experience for Laura! I/we feel that the has become more confident and independent; the sense of accomplishment from having done the trip is something that I think makes her proud. When she stepped off the plane, she already seemed older!”— Parent of Laura V., S. Burlington, VT
“She had an amazing trip and it helped her see how fortunate she is and recognized the needs of others. She formed close friendships with the group.”— Parent of Margaret M., Atlanta, GA
“You can tell ARCC has been around for years by how well I was prepared for my trip and how well my guides knew the area.”— Andrew C., Greenbrae, CA, ARCC Student
“Tristan thrived during his first experience away from home. He felt comfortable and safe with the leaders and the group. He was challenged and stimulated by the program. He learned a lot about Costa Rican culture, enjoyed meeting Costa Rican people, felt good about helping with the community service projects, and had a lot of fun rafting and surfing.”— Parent of Tristan S., Germantown, NY
Group Journal Excerpts
Below you will find several Group Journal excerpts, written by ARCC students during their summer program with ARCC:
Life on the Farm
Touchdown. After a full day of travel, we have arrived to El Cairo where we will be teaching English to Costa Rican grade schoolers over the next few days! The past few days we have been lending a hand at an environmentally sustainable farm in the highlands at Ranchos Tinamu. Hard work and new experiences…
Patrolling for Sea Turtles
For the past several days we have been on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica working with a local group to help save the endangered sea turtle nesting habitat! Each night, we patrolled for several hours with local guides, looking for nesting turtles. With only the stars as our light, we walked the beach. Last…
It has been an incredible few days teaching English at Escuela Florida here in El Cairo, Costa Rica! Students prepared their own “lesson plans” and taught all sorts of common English phrases and words through games and fun activities. It was tiring work maintaining the student’s attention while keeping it fun during learning but smiles…
What should I pack?
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 Costa Rica: Impact packing list.
What is the weather like in Costa Rica?
In Costa Rica, the weather is a lot like Florida in the summer time. During the day it can be hot, sunny and humid (80’s-90’s). Late afternoons often bring showers, which will cool us off. Some days you will go to bed with only a simple cover as it is often warm enough to sleep without your sleeping bag. When we ascend into the high elevation rainforest and cloud forest, the temperature becomes cooler (in the 50’s at night).
What are the service projects like?
The specific service projects that each group will work on depend on the needs of the communities at the time that the groups are there. Possibilities include: teaching English; constructing bridges in a small village; making improvements to community buildings or schools; planting trees; environmental education and village clean-up; and assisting in a sea turtle conservation project.
What kind of health precautions should I take before traveling on this program?
Costa Rica is a relatively clean and safe place to travel. However, ARCC does recommend that you take some health precautions before your program. 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 this program we sleep in a variety of accommodations: small simple hotel, lodge, and community house.
What is the transportation like once we are in Costa Rica?
Typically we will take a private 20-person shuttle from place to place. When traveling to more remote areas we will occasionally split into two groups and use smaller 4-wheel drive vehicles. We also take a short ferry ride during the turtle project portion of our program.
What is the food like?
On this program, you will experience typical Costa Rican fare – rice and beans. This staple is supplemented with a delicious assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables. The group will also be creating the menu and preparing the meals during some sections of the program.
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 about $75 per week on your program. This is for souvenirs, laundry, and other incidentals. ARCC pays for all meals, lodging, transportation and activities. There is some time to shop for souvenirs in San Jose and elsewhere during the program. We recommend you bring some of your money in cash and the rest on an ATM card.
In Costa Rica the official currency is the Colon, but US dollars are widely accepted. We suggest that you carry about $25 of your money in small denominations (1’s and 5’s). Visa and MasterCard are also widely accepted. We do not recommend Traveler’s checks. ATM’s are found in San Jose, but are limited outside the city.
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 Costa Rica need to have a valid passport. Please make sure the passport expiration date is at least three months after your program start date.
Be sure to make a photocopy of your passport and keep it in a separate place. If you lose your passport and you have a photocopy, it is much easier to replace.
Do I need a visa?
No. US and Canadian Citizens do not need a visa for this program.
What is the time difference between Costa Rica and the USA?
During the summer, Costa Rica is on Mountain Time. Therefore, on your program the time will be 2 hours earlier than in New York (Eastern Time) and 1 hour later than in San Francisco (Pacific Time).
How often can we take showers and do laundry?
You will have the opportunity to shower most days on this program, however they may not always be hot. Because we are often in remote areas or in transit, laundry stops are infrequent. You will have the opportunity to send your clothes to a laundry service at least once on the program and you will also be able to hand wash your clothes throughout. ARCC students are expected to pay for their own laundry service (typically ~$10/load).
Do I really need to bring a backpack, or can I bring a rolling suitcase on this program?
You will want to bring two pieces of luggage: your main bag and a daypack. Your main bag should be a backpack, travel backpack or large duffel bag. This larger piece of luggage should be approximately 4,500-5,000 cubic inches or 70-75 liters, and should be able to hold everything on your Clothing & Equipment List. The daypack should be large enough to hold an extra layer of clothing, a water bottle, sunscreen, some snacks, etc. Some travel backpacks come with an attached daypack that you can zip off and use. Otherwise, your school backpack is a good option. When you travel, you should plan to check your large piece of luggage and bring the daypack on the plane as your carry-on.
Please keep in mind that while you will not be doing traditional backpacking on this 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.
You will also need to pack an EMPTY small duffel bag inside your main piece of luggage. When you get to Costa Rica, you will use this duffel bag to store certain items that you will not use during specific sections of your program.
Do I need to speak Spanish to join this program?
No. English is widely spoken in Costa Rica and your leaders and local guides will speak both English and Spanish.
What kinds of goods and supplies can we bring to donate for the people we meet?
We have the chance to live amongst some needy people who have the very basics for survival. With education being a tool to better their lives, basic school supplies are welcomed with open arms. Pens, pencils, notepads, calculators and books are widely accepted. Soccer balls are also an incredible way to cross the cultural border and share smiles. Because of limited space on our vehicles ARCC would ask that every person to bring no more than a gym of bag of goods to donate.