Rustic Pathways is a leader in providing international community service programs for high school students. Our programs introduce students to a variety of service experiences that benefit the communities we visit, while showing students the impact they can have on the world. We teach those who travel with us about their role in the global community, the power they have to affect change, and the benefits of diversity and cultural awareness. Additionally, these experiences help students build critical teamwork skills while challenging them to take leadership roles in creating change.
We work with community partners to develop projects that address important social, health, and environmental needs, enabling our students to take a hands-on role in creating change. Our project partners include community leaders in rural villages, local organizations and government agencies. These projects are a part of the larger impact of our global operations.
Each Rustic Pathways service program engages participants in hands-on projects designed to utilize the skills they have to contribute. Each program includes orientation and discussion on the rationale underlying each project as well as the larger cultural, social, and political environment. During the program Rustic Pathways leaders facilitate discussion and reflection to support learning. These programs demand engaged participants committed to making a positive contribution to the communities in which they work. After the program, participants can stay involved through the Rustic Pathways Foundation, which further supports projects in communities around the world. Our programs build confidence, leadership, and critical thinking skills that help to ensure that youth in the next generation are prepared to be active citizens.
Rustic Pathways awards community service hours to participants based on the time they spend volunteering during their program. Participants are issued a Community Service Certificate to verify their work following their program. These certificates are typically mailed to students at the end of August or beginning of September following each summer. Click here for more information on how service hours are awarded.
Rustic Pathways service projects focus on five dimensions that are essential to the well-being of the communities where we work:
Safe and engaging learning environments, along with access to education, are essential for student learning. Rustic Pathways education projects currently focus on two areas:
We partner with schools in communities around the world to upgrade facilities and create an enabling environment for student learning. Projects include building new schools and new classrooms, developing libraries, improving playgrounds, and brightening learning environments with fresh paint and murals.
We improve student learning through cultural exchange, literacy programs, English language tutoring, computer lessons, arts and sports programs.
Basic infrastructure is essential to healthy, productive and sustainable communities. Rustic Pathways infrastructure projects currently focus on four areas:
We work to improve sanitation through installing and improving water systems in remote villages, building toilets, and developing waste collection systems among other community sanitation improvement projects.
Access to electricity has myriad benefits, from extending hours for study or work, to easing the time of household chores and enhancing access to communication. We have installed solar panels and low cost lighting systems in several communities.
We work with communities to build or renovate spaces for community members to meet, plan, play, and celebrate together. We build community halls, sports facilities, and other central community spaces.
Access to safe, healthy, and secure housing is a challenge for many around the world. In the USA, we work on post-disaster rebuilding efforts in New Orleans, Louisiana and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In places like Thailand and Fiji, we build homes and make important upgrades such as replacing leaking roofs that give families in need a leg up as they work to improve their quality of life.
The environment plays an important role in the livelihoods of many communities and must be sustainably managed for current and future generations. Rustic Pathways environmental service projects currently focus on two areas:
We partner with local and national organizations to provide students with hands-on roles in conservation and animal welfare work, including veterinary work. By joining together with these organizations we support their efforts and, in so doing, impart a broader context and deeper knowledge of these issues to students.
Partnering with national parks and environmental organizations in many countries, our students support conservation, erosion control, and environmental stewardship.
Health underpins all aspects of daily life. Good health is critical to people’s ability to contribute to the wellbeing of their family and community. Rustic Pathways health projects currently focus on two areas:
We teach basic first aid and lead health workshops in local schools to support community health awareness and education. We also certify students in Wilderness First Responder and Wilderness First Aid courses and provide them with an opportunity to put their skills to use alongside rural community health workers to enhance basic screening efforts in underserved communities.
We work with local schools and communities to create community gardens and serve meals to the elderly in an effort to improve nutrition in vulnerable communities.
Developing economic opportunities is essential to enable people to pull themselves out of poverty and meet basic needs. Rustic Pathways economic development projects currently focus on one area:
We work with community members on projects that generate income through initiating and improving small, family business infrastructure. We also provide support for ongoing business management and development to enable the success and sustainability of these initiatives.
New Gap Year programs have been announced!Find Out More