A Summer of Service and Adventure in Costa Rica
All Articles

A Summer of Service and Adventure in Costa Rica

The impact students are making in Costa Rica is becoming more evident as the summer weeks fly by. For many service projects the next group starts where the last group left off. That way the hundreds of Rustic Pathways students traveling this summer can help communities tackle larger initiatives.

And the good news is that there are quite a number of groups that are still scheduled to come. By the end of summer 2022, Rustic Pathways students will have made quite a mark.

When they aren’t providing service, the students are having fun surfing, ziplining, hiking, white water rafting and much more. On some days, they’re also splashing in the rain as pop-up summer storms give students a break from the heat.

Here are just some of the adventures that have unfolded so far:

Surf and Service

For more than three weeks now, Rustic Pathways students in the Surf and Service program have been working to build a school. School projects are important in Costa Rica since educational institutions do not get much government funding.

For the new school, students have started with the foundation. Students in an earlier session spent time digging. Then students in the next session mixed cement, placed chicken wire and then laid down the cement to begin building up the foundation.

Students in the mid-June Surf and Service group dig to start the foundation process. (first photo). Then students in a session at the end of June place chicken wire and start laying cement. (next photo)

That wasn’t the only project on the agenda. Students in the first session collected and prepared spinach to be sold in the community, moved and reorganized garden beds, and pruned trees to be moved throughout the community.

When they weren’t working students went on a boat ride and of course surfed.

Pura Vida Service

For the Pura Vida Service programs students have been working on projects at the La Altura Community Center and Linda Vista Elementary School. Students helped to paint the base coat and painted signs to be hung up on the walls inside and outside at the community center.

They’ve also made progress on several projects as students in different sessions got busy with tasks, including creating a sidewalk at the center and prepping it for a new floor. They also worked on an art room for local students, cleared an area for a vegetable garden at the elementary school and did some painting.

Here are few service photos, including some that show the progression of work from one group to another:

When they weren’t doing service, the students hiked in Arenal Volcano National Park and went ziplining. They went on a chocolate tour in La Fortuna and learned about the cacao bean. They also went on a sugar cane tour in Finca Don Juan and more.

Turtle Conservation Project

The students in the Turtle Conservation Project have been busy gathering eggs, building a hatchery, releasing baby turtles and cleaning trash that prevents mother turtles from laying eggs. One of the first groups saw their first turtle just minutes after beginning their first night walk. Right out of the gates they helped place 110 eggs in the nursery.

Overall that group placed about 500 eggs in the hatchery during their session. If each group replicates this, the Rustic Pathways crews will have placed about 4,500 eggs in the nursery over the summer – a huge step in protecting endangered and threatened turtle species.

The groups are staying in Refugio of Camaronal where they’ve been working with Lora turtles, also known as Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles, which are critically endangered. They learn how to measure them if seen on a night walk and how to collect the eggs.

When they aren’t working, they try surfing, go on a dolphin tour, take a local art class and spend time at the pool. They also learn a bit about plant life and other animals in the region, including howler monkeys and iguanas.

Heart of the Jungle

Students in two different sessions of the Heart of the Jungle worked at a community youth center in Uvita, building the foundation for a storage room. The room will be used to store donations, medical goods, and emergency supplies. The first group did their work while splashing in the rain!

The teens also have enjoyed surfing and exploring. Likewise the groups got to experience Diamenté Waterfall from all angles, repelling down and then having lunch under the waterfall.

They also go rafting and enjoy a chocolate tour, along with having some meaningful group discussions.

Soccer and Service

This program got underway in the beginning of July. The team jumped right into a game together on a beautiful field, sandwiched between two mountains and hidden in the clouds.

Plus they have started service in Turrialba repairing the community’s soccer field! They started with moving all the goals, working together to do so, painting them, and they are mixing and making cement to put them in place.

They will continue to do lots of service and play a ton of soccer these next few weeks.

Other Costa Rica programs that will be in the country in July are
Summer Camp Leadership and Spanish Language Immersion. There are many more adventures ahead!

About the Author

Mary Rogelstad

Content Writer