Costa Rica Ultimate
|Dates:||July 5 – July 25|
|Arrive:||San Jose, CR*|
|Depart:||San Jose, CR*|
|Grade||8th, 9th, 10th, 11th & 12th|
(Students Grouped According to Age)
*Optional Leader Escorted Flight from/to Miami
Learn More About Us
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- Work to Protect Sea Turtles & Their Caribbean Coastal Habitat
- Learn to Surf on Pristine Pacific Coast Waves
- Build Village Facilities in a Remote Cloudforest Community
- Whitewater Raft through the Pacuare River’s Lush Rainforest
- Zipline through the Canopy of a Costa Rican Rainforest
- Teach Classes in a Rural “Tico” Primary School
- Experience for Yourself the “Pura Vida” Lifestyle
- 50 Hours of Community Service (8th Grade & Up)
Over the course of 20 years, ARCC groups have made many improvements to the rural community in Savegre through various initiatives including reforestation, education, and building projects – such as a dining area for the school, a greenhouse for the school and a cable crossing wagon for a small creek. By working alongside community members, we truly immerse ourselves in the Costa Rican culture and lifestyle through a village stay. Continuing with our work, we are introducing the community of Mollejones to the program. Through homestays with local families, village stays and projects designed to benefit each community, we form new relationships and establish connections we can strengthen year after year in Savegre and Mollejones.
Dive into the heart of Costa Rican culture by working with school children and rural farmers on community service projects designed to positively affect their lives. See the beauty of the country by whitewater rafting through the jungle on the Pacuare River, surfing its unspoiled coastline, and getting to know its people. Patrol turtle nesting beaches and work to protect baby turtles in their natural habitat. Come together with a rural community to build a shelter, help a family with daily chores, or educate the village youth. Make lifelong friendships and take pleasure in knowing you are touching others’ lives.
Our introduction to Costa Rica summer program for teens 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 traveling to our next destination.
Pacuare River Rafting & Rainforest Zipline
The volcanoes and mountains of the Andean-Sierra Madre chain form the spine of Costa Rica, from which pour gorgeous rivers to whitewater raft. The Pacuare River is arguably the best. As we paddle the Class II-IV rapids of this pure and pristine river, we pass silvery waterfalls, a wilderness of dense vegetation, and the calls of tropical birds and monkeys. We overnight at a jungle river lodge, which offers an exhilarating ride by zipline through the rainforest canopy, as well as a trip to a natural rock waterslide.
Sea Turtle Preservation & Education on Conservation and Ecology
On the Caribbean coast, we spend four 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.
Surfing the Pacific Coast
The Pacific Coast of Costa Rica is known for its superb surf and “undiscovered” feel. Here we learn the art of surfing along beaches lined with coconut palms. After two days of surf camp, we are practically guaranteed to be standing on our boards and riding waves with confidence.
“This trip is amazing!”— Tristan S., Red Hook, NY, ARCC Student
“Even though my daughter had been to Costa Rica with our family, it was an amazing adventure to travel on her own and be responsible for herself!”— Parent of Elizabeth C., New Canaan, CT
“Stella had a great time, she learned a lot about the culture and wildlife of Costa Rica. She used her language skills and helped people which made her very happy.”— Parent of Stella Von S., Brooklyn, NY
“ARCC is super safe, fun, well-planned and makes you feel so comfortable!”— Grace E., Minneapolis, MN, ARCC Student
“The people you meet on this trip make you open your eyes and you become part of a strong, bonded family.”— Luis C., Westport, CT, ARCC Student
“It’s a trustworthy and reliable company. We have no regrets sending our daughter on a trip under their supervision. A summer well spent!”— Parent of Ankita S., Danville, CA
“Best summer of my life!”— Stella Von S., Brooklyn, NY, ARCC Student
Group Journal Excerpts
Below you will find several Group Journal excerpts, written by ARCC students during their Costa Rica summer program:
A Surfing Song
The sun comes up, The sky is blue My first day of surfing And real camping, too. Rashguard on, I’m ready to roll, Determination in my soul Chorus Not sure what to expect Don’t know what to say I remember the sound of the waves crashing For the first time that day. Me and the…
Building a Library
We woke up extremely early this morning and we sat down to a breakfast of…banana pancakes! We walked to the site where we would be working and building for the next few days. We split into two groups, one that sanded the wood, and one that sawed and hammered the wood into place. My group…
Our New Home
To add some details about the town we are staying in: it is really small and scattered with only about 80 people living here (I have seen only about 20 so far). They must walk up and down the roads (or by horse or Jeep) to get to the center of town (which is not…
Saving the Sea Turtles
Today we came back to San José after finishing our turtle unit. We were at the turtle reserve for three days and we learned a lot about turtles. On Saturday night, we saw a leatherback turtle laying eggs. She was ENORMOUS!! The day before, we saw baby turtles crawl into the ocean. I can’t believe…
Teaching English, What a Day!
Today we taught English to local 5th and 6th graders…what a day! After a delicious breakfast of omelets and fruit, we worked hard to finish preparing our lessons. We set up games of Bingo, quilt making with sentences, charades, and flashcards. We taught them family and farm animal vocabulary. The kids were very energetic and…
Wildlife we’ve seen so far
Blue Morpho Butterfly Glass Frog Coati Fer de lance snake Toucan!! Iguana Jesus Christ Lizard Anole Lizard Land crab Jellyfish Sand Dollars (alive) Hermit Crabs Green Sea Turtle Howler Monkey Spider Monkey White-Faced Capuchin Monkey Leatherback Sea Turtle Sloth
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 Costa Rica: Ultimate 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 recovery 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 detailed 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 hotels, jungle lodge, community house, and tent camps.
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 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.