Summer High School Programs in Costa Rica with Rustic Pathways

Video and Photos

my bestfriends and I at the beach
my bestfriends and I at the beach
my bestfriends and I at the beach
my bestfriends and I at the beach
Surf and service
Surf and service
Surf and service
Surf and service
Surf and service
Surf and service
Surf and service
Surf and service
Surf and service
Surf and service
Hiking to the water fall where we slept in a cave
Hiking to the water fall where we slept in a cave

About

Since opening Costa Rica operations in 2003, Rustic has expanded to include the most spectacular regions of this Central American paradise. From the Pacific to the Caribbean, from rainforests to rivers, from service to adventure, our programs here encompass the breadth of what Costa Rica has to offer. Our team of talented local staff members challenge veteran travelers with new experiences and introduce more novice adventurers to the joys of travel.

With our large staff of local Ticos, you’ll quickly feel at home in Costa Rica and easily slip into the lifestyle of pura vida, a phrase meaning “pure life.” Embrace the idea of living life to the fullest as you learn to relax, appreciate nature, and experience everything Costa Rica has to offer.

Popular Programs

Caribbean Adrenaline

Join us on a week of pure adventure on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica! Start off with a mountain biking tour in the Turrialba Valley before beginning a two-day whitewater rafting trip down the Pacuare River. The adventure doesn’t stop as you hike to waterfalls, go zip lining, and kayaking in the rainforest of Turrialba. Then, head out to the coast where you will have plenty of beach time and surfing lessons. Settle into the laid-back Caribbean lifestyle influenced by both Afro-indigenous and traditional tico culture.

Surf and Service

Learn to surf or take your skills to the next level during this one-week program. Live at our base house and soak in the laid-back culture of beach town life. When you’re not surfing, work on infrastructure projects supporting the communities around Playa Grande. You’ll also have the chance to go on a private catamaran and go whitewater rafting!

Traveling Soccer and Service Team

Get ready to travel, work, and play your heart out on this intensive two-week soccer and service project through the heart of Costa Rica. Using the game you love as a medium, you’ll develop relationships with tico locals throughout this beautiful country, and give back to your host communities through thoughtfully designed service initiatives. In your downtime you’ll take advantage of the best adventure activities that Costa Rica has to offer.

Turtle Conservation Project

This program is designed especially for students who are passionate about turtle conservation and want to embrace the authentic and rustic park ranger lifestyle! Live at an actual park ranger station, take cold showers, and work alongside the rangers to protect this incredible species. Take walks along the beach at high tide to track sea turtle behavior. When not working hard, zip line, surf, and enjoy the beautiful beach views and sunsets.

Youth Empowerment Project

Partner with Fundación el Futuro es de Todos, an organization dedicated to providing access to sustainable income to youth with Down Syndrome through vocational skills development. Work alongside this organization to support build a vocational skills training farm donated by the National Institute of Agrarian Development.

Summer Camp Leadership in Costa Rica

If you love working with children, this is the perfect program for you! Begin your trip with an adventurous whitewater rafting trip down the Pacuare River, then spend three days learning leadership skills and planning a creative summer camp experience for local Costa Rican children. After this amazing bonding experience, work together to run the summer camp where you will develop meaningful connections with your campers through fun and engaging activities.

Spanish Language Immersion

Perfect for students of all abilities, this program allows you to learn Spanish from native speakers in a small group or private instruction setting. Practice Spanish with fellow students and live with a welcoming host family that will introduce you to the warm tico culture. Outside of the classroom get your heart pounding as you zip line through the jungle and raft down the whitewater rapids of the Pacuare River.

Questions & Answers

Hi there Cesca, I would recommend checking out our blog channel all about prepping for your program. It won't be specific to Summer Camp Leadership, but might help. (Link below.) I would also check out our student lead Facebook group – Rustic Pathways Travelers 2018. Hopefully that helps, but please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] if you have any additional questions....
Basically, Rustic Pathways has a program called group travel, and you can choose which country you want to go. For the Costa Rica group travel programs, the prices range between $1945 and $2355.

Reviews

96%
based on 95 reviews
  • Impact 9.4
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.2
  • Value 9.4
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 15 of 95
Default avatar
Hailey
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

New friends

I met people from all over the world, and this trip opened my eyes to new places and people. In addition to being in a new country, the people on my trip and program leaders expanded my knowledge of the world around me. It was a great 9 days. I loved the people I met and everyone was so welcoming and nice. The chef and cleaners were lovely local people and were so accommodating about my difficulties speaking Spanish and tried to help me. The food was also great! I wish laundry was free, but it’s okay because if you pack enough you won’t need to do it. BRING MULTIPLE TOWELS!!!! Things do not dry in Costa Rica!! I also saw many new animals and things I never see back home, like wild sloths, tucanes and monkeys. I also loved to try new foods- the pineapple in Costa Rica is incredible- and the staff at rustic pathways is very accommodating and understanding of everyone’s dietary restrictions and choices. One thing I was a bit annoyed with is that they list the trip as 9 days, but it’s only 7 because you leave very early in the day so it’s not even close to a full day in Costa Rica. Besides that, it was very fun! I also wish I had a little more independence- we were watched over like hawks! We’re teenagers! Let us have a little fun sometimes! Besides all of this, I would still consider it to be a great trip, and a once in a lifetime opportunity. Rustic is a great organization and I never felt unsafe or like it was sketchy. The staff was very nice and I loved everyone I met. Everyone was inspiring, and I got to practice my Spanish a lot. If you are in intro to Community service in Costa Rica- be ready to meet the best dog ever! Paco is the local dog there! He is the best. Despite it being a bit overpriced, I had a lot of fun and would recommend it

What would you improve about this program?
More freedom. I understand that there is liability issues, but we’re all independent teenagers who can cross the street by ourselves
Default avatar
Ruthie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Two Weeks

I went on my first rustic trip this summer. It was the best two weeks of my life. I met so many amazing people and was able to explore and see awesome parts of Costa Rica. I also completed Service on my trip. It would be impossible to get better program leaders. They were very approachable, fun, and just overall amazing. Even from the first day everyone was so kind and sweet. On my trip I’ve met some of them the most amazing people and I know that I will remember my rustic trip for the rest of my life. I could tell the service we did really did make a difference and I had so much fun doing it. I would recommend for anyone to go on a rustic trip! It is so much fun and an amazing experience!

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing it was perfect!
Default avatar
Katherine
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Intro To Community Service (Costa Rica 2018)

I could not have had a better time on my service trip with Rustic Pathways. I came home with a different perspective on life and travel. My program balanced community service, immersion, and tourist like activities. We helped build bathrooms for a school in desperate need of them, and we laid the concrete floors for a community center. Throughout this community service, I bonded with the new friends I met and with the Ticos (aka Costa Ricans) I worked with. I had the opportunity to spend the day with school children to learn about their culture, like what they liked to eat, what music they liked, and what sports or activities they participated in. This interaction elevated my spanish knowledge, but others in my group had no prior knowledge of spanish and still learned a lot. One of my favorite parts of the trip was going zip lining, rafting, and to the hot springs. These activities showed me a different side of Costa Rica. The people on my program could not have been better, my program leaders became my friends, teachers, and always made me feel safe and comfortable. If you are someone looking for adventure, service, new relationships, and fun, I would recommend this program to you!

Default avatar
Cassidy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Intro to Community Service in Costa Rica

Last summer of 2017, I traveled to Costa Rica with Rustic for the first time ever. To say I was a bit nervous was an understatement, as I’ve never traveled alone. The minute I met my group at the airport I knew I was in the right place. The staff and travelers were so welcoming and everyone bonded so well together! My favorite thing about this program was the countless laughs I shared with my new life long friends, our endless rounds of card games during free time, and the incredible vibe the leaders gave off. I never once questioned my safety or security and the staff were always so willing to help anyone who was having trouble adjusting to the country. I loved zip lining, white water rafting, and swimming at the hot springs, but my service work was by far the most rewarding and eye opening. If you’re looking for a fun, yet rewarding program I highly recommend the Intro to Community Service in Costa Rica!

Default avatar
Caitlim
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Summer Camp Leadership

I not only got to enjoy a week of practicing Spanish, making memories with local children, creating great bonds with my group members, and practicing leaderships skills during the time running the summer camp, but I also got to see and adventure around the country. This program was the absolute perfect mix of service and adventure and it was so easily the best 2 weeks of my summer. It was an amazing first time travel experience because I constantly felt safe, while also getting to live like a local. I so so highly recommend this program, especially as a first rustic trip or if you’re looking for some seriously fun (and tiring haha) community service.

What would you improve about this program?
The itinerary for this program is absolutely amazing. The food was great and I felt safe and like I had someone I could go to if I had a problem at any time. I wouldn’t change a thing about it!
Default avatar
Lillianna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Intro to Community Service

I went on this trip by myself and it really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I used Spanish and got to experience life in a different country, from the beautiful sights to the locals. My life is forever changed because I now know what it’s like to step out of my comfort zone, and now I crave it. It is exciting now and it never has been before. I’d recommend this program to anyone who wants to learn and make a difference, supporting others who may not be as fortunate as you are.

What would you improve about this program?
I honestly think that this program doesn’t need to improve, it truly changed my life
Default avatar
Jasmine
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Nicoya Turtle Expedition

BEST. TRIP. EVER!!!! Leaving home behind and traveling with Rustic Pathways had been the best experience of my life: better than any vacation to a foreign country, better than sleepaway camp. The experience changed me for the better and I will never forget the magical night sky at the wildlife refuge. Underneath the shooting stars and the Milky Way, I would lay on the sand and collect the mama turtle’s eggs as she lay them. At that moment I finally realized that it only takes one person to change the world for the better. You matter. From dancing at the refuge, to picking up plastic, to surfing and coffee and dolphins, this was truly the trip of a lifetime. Let go of any doubt and sign up because IT IS SO WORTH IT!

What would you improve about this program?
It’s perfect already.
Default avatar
Sonya
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life changing

I went on the Intro to Community Service trip in Costa Rica and it has made such an impact on my life. What made this experience truly unique was the people I met. Whether they were fellow student, staff, or local, they all made me feel so welcome. I was able to connect with so many people and learn so much from them. If you want to make a difference in not only your life, but the life of others then definitely travel with Rustic Pathways.

What would you improve about this program?
This program could be improved by offering a longer trip!
Default avatar
Hannah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Surf and Service

In 2017 I traveled with Rustic Pathways to Costa Rica where I surfed and learned what the true meaning of community service is. After a few card games and friendship bracelets, we became a family to take on the waves and building sidewalks together.

Being a new surfer I was nervous as I looked out into massive waves. Soon this fear went away as the leaders taught us how to surf and we started off at the small waves. The group was the perfect mix of half of us being first-time surfers and the other half being experienced. On the last day, everyone could paddle far out and surf the amazing waves.

We also learned how community service is not about "helping or saving" people that have less than us, rather it is about supporting communities. We build sidewalks and ramps in a school because there was a new law that required them. Rustic Pathways asked the community how we could support them the most and building ramps was the answer. In past years there this program has build houses and ect.

Whale watching and white water rafting were amazing days! We saw so many whales and all got to hang out on the beach together. On the 2nd to last day where we went white water rafting, we all made nicknames and had a great time going over rapids, jumping off rocks and swimming in huge waterfalls!

The food is awesome, I loved trying new fruits! The coconut water is the best thing ever!! The base house is also awesome as it was very clean and we could walk to community service and say Pura Vida to EVERYONE who we crossed paths with. This program is perfect for anyone who is a first-time traveler! (or experienced)

What would you improve about this program?
I wish I knew that in Costa Rica it was culturally acceptable to wear running shorts while doing community service. I would have brought more running shorts! Other than that it was the best first trip!!!
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Ellie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

life changing

this rustic pathways trip changed my life. Before i came
to costa rica, i was someone who was fairly entitled. after completing this trip, i learned so much about how fortunate i am, and how grateful i need to be for this. in addition to this the staff were always supportive, even in emergencies. the service felt incredibly impactful, especially when you were able to see results. we were lucky enough to have the community show us their gratitude, and every single bit of hard work is worth it. you feel the impact of all of your service.

What would you improve about this program?
the only thing i would be aware of, is packing a little more then the list. you do lots of service in the mud (super fun!!) but you obviously get muddy :).
Default avatar
grace
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

heart of the jungle

I went on the Heart of the Jungle trip in early June. I can honestly say it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The activities we did were so fun and exciting. I learned so much through working with some of the locals and the people we met were the nicest people and the country was so beautiful. I met some of the most incredible people through Rustic. I would highly recommend this trip and Rustic Pathways to anyone.

Default avatar
Sophia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Intro to community service: COSTA RICA

This program genuinely changed my life. The counselors were amazing and helpful. I made many great friends from around the country that I still talk to and visit. The activities that we did were top of the line and very fun. As for the service, I feel like it was unorganized and not helpful towards the community. We did do work that the real workers didn’t have to do but I feel like we barely did anything. The whole experience was amazing. I will remember it forever and I can’t wait to do another one. I know I will be doing rustic for every year possible. 10/10

What would you improve about this program?
Better organization skills for service
Brook Lyn
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Different than expected

I was so excited to go on my trip for into to community service. That was until I got to the airport. I realized that maybe I made a mistake. Half of the time I felt very left out at base camp because of my social status. There lacked minorities and people of lower economic standing. The kids were privelaged, made awful jokes, and didn’t care if the things they said were hurtful. A lot of kids came in groups or partners too. It was hard to meet people when they all came together. The service however was wonderful. I enjoyed supporting the community I was at. The activities were unbelievable. Zip lining was amazing, and I’m afraid of heights. White water rafting was personally my favorite thing. The staff were so great. They were kind and they listened and they genuinely cared about each and every one of us.

What would you improve about this program?
N/A
Default avatar
Ben
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Lots of New Experiences

We did a lot of fun activities all around Costa Rica. We learned about how the Costa Ricans lived, the food they ate and their slang. We also spent an amazing 6 days with the Costa Rican kids which were definitely not long enough. We really connected with the kids even though we hardly spoke their language. I am still in touch with some of them today. The food was also amazing. Every single meal was so good and they were very accommodating about food restrictions.

What would you improve about this program?
We should have more time with the kids.
Default avatar
Kennedy
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Intro to Community Service in Costa Rica

This was an amazing program. Because it was the intro program, we never did the same community service twice. It was so interesting to experience all the different aspects of service as well as the culture. The people and program leaders were wonderful and the accommodations were better than you would expect. The service was also well balanced with fun activities that I loved such ad going to the hot springs, zip lining, and white water rafting. I would definitely recommend this program!

Location

Location:
Costa Rica
Currency:
Costa Rican Colón
Weather:
Jan-Mar
83 F / 67 F
Apr-Jun
85 F / 69 F
Jul-Sep
85 F / 69 F
Oct-Dec
83 F / 67 F
Airports:
Juan Santamaría International Airport
( SJO )
Limón International Airport
( LIO )
Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport
( LIR )

Costa Rica has been growing as a hot bed for travel since the early 1990s. A quarter of the country is dedicated as a protected area or national park. As Costa Rica has become renowned for its outdoor beauty, the ecotourism has grown and encouraged a different type of travel. If you are looking to spend more time outdoors while you travel, Costa Rica is the perfect place for you.

About Rustic Pathways

Travel and volunteer abroad with Rustic Pathways. Choose from culturally-immersive adventure and volunteer programs in 17 countries. Make lifelong friends from around the world, work on sustainable community service projects, and discover new...