We’re proud to announce our new 2019 programs. With more options for Young Explorers, updated service projects, and fresh travel destinations—this year is packed with adventure!
Young Explorers Programs
Young Explorers programs are for students ages 12 to 13 with a passion for travel. These programs allow the young adventurer to step outside of their comfort zone, make new friends, and learn about the world around them.
Young Explorers: Land Down Under | Australia
Australia is the perfect destination for young explorers. Fly direct from Los Angeles to Brisbane and discover magnificent beaches, countryside, and rainforest through service and adventure. Visit Australia Zoo, experience farm life, learn to surf, sandboard, and snorkel—this is an action-packed program! Along the way, help at a wildlife rehabilitation center and an elementary school to meet Aussie students.
Young Explorers: Panda Conservation | China
Work at a renowned panda conservation center based in Chengdu and work alongside researchers to help care for the pandas. Your days will be filled with monitoring their behavior, preparing food, feeding the pandas, and cleaning their living spaces. When not working with the pandas, you’ll trek across the Four Girls Mountain, explore Chengdu, and spend a day hiking on the Great Wall of China.
New for 2019
Youth Empowerment Project | Costa Rica
Partner with Fundación el Futuro es de Todos, an organization dedicated to providing access to sustainable income to youth with mental disabilities through vocational skills development. Work alongside this organization to support build a vocational skills training farm donated by the National Institute of Agrarian Development. After participating in service, explore the lush ecological diversity of Costa Rica with a hike through Juan Castro Blanco National Park and a heart-racing zipline adventure through the rainforest canopy.
China Rising | China
Travel along the ancient Silk Road and visit bustling metropolitan cities Xi’an and Beijing and smaller rural villages in the Gansu Province to learn about how rapid development and globalization have changed daily life in China over the past four decades. Spend several evenings meeting with different groups of local students. Walk along the 1,300-mile Great Wall of China to truly feel China’s vast and fascinating history.
Service Off the Grid | Dominican Republic
Travel to the heart of the Dominican Republic on this program that will allow you to live in harmony with nature, and experience life as locals live it in this diverse Caribbean island. Spend three days working on service projects, contributing to infrastructure and environmental initiatives. Head back south to the beaches near Juan Dolio and explore the colonial zone of Santo Domingo, where you’ll learn about the rich history of the country.
Innovation in Action | Dominican Republic
Make a positive impact on the world by joining this program designed for future leaders. Participate in workshops that incorporate design thinking, an empathetic process used to find tangible solutions to problems on a local and global level. Interact with business owners to learn about their everyday challenges. Return home with a personal appreciation of Dominican society, the knowledge to drive toward action, and newly developed design-thinking skills to create change.
Reindeer Herders and Gobi Sands of Mongolia | Mongolia
Pack your winter clothing for an exciting journey north to a remote reindeer community near the border with Russia. Living deep in some of the few forests in Mongolia, the Tsaatan people struggle to maintain their lifestyle in a rapidly developing world. Shed your coat and head south to the sand dunes of the Gobi Desert where you’ll ride camels to experience this vast landscape. Explore the history of this region that dates to the Mongol empire.
Judaism in Morocco | Morocco
Examine Jewish identity in Morocco, once home to the largest Jewish diaspora in the Muslim world dating back more than 2,000 years. In that time, the rich artisanship, cuisine, and architecture of the Jewish community in Morocco have blended with Moroccan culture. Explore the Museum of Moroccan Judaism in Casablanca. Explore holy Muslim sites in Morocco, including Hassan II Mosque, and engage in discussion with local Jewish and Muslim faith leaders on the relationship between the two religions.
Southern Thailand is home to idyllic beaches, pristine waters, rainforests and limestone karsts that have made it a world-famous destination. While popularity has brought international renown, this influx of tourism is starting to negatively impact the marine environment in popular places. Learn about the challenging dynamic between the industries that sustain local populations with the conservation of these fragile habitats, home to wondrous creatures that call these waters home.
Southeast Asia by Backpack | Thailand
Become an experienced backpacker by planning your meals and taking charge of your travel arrangements as a group during this off-the-beaten-path journey through Thailand and Myanmar. Start with an epic cross-country train journey across Thailand traveling along the Northern border between Thailand and Myanmar and exploring remote highland communities. Venture to destinations rarely visited by tourists in the Mon and Karen states in Myanmar.
Rebuilding the American Dream | United States
Assist in the ongoing hurricane relief efforts in Houston and New Orleans. Neighborhoods in both New Orleans and Houston experienced unprecedented damage following Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey. Help residents and local organizations working to rebuild homes and neighborhood infrastructure. Soak up New Orleans’ famous atmosphere as you enjoy music in the birthplace of jazz. Live bands, fresh jambalaya, and friendly locals will show you the true meaning of Southern hospitality. Learn what it means when locals say “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” Explore NASA’s Johnson Space Center and savor true Texas barbecue in Houston.
Aloha Service | United States
Work alongside local organizations in their mission to safeguard Hawaii’s biodiversity and provide access to education for local students. After completing service, get a taste of what makes Hawaii an Island paradise. Relax on the white sand beaches of Hawaii, learn to surf, hike through lush forests, and take in millions of stars atop Mauna Kea. Learn about the unique and rich history of Kanaka Maoli, Hawaii’s native people. Before heading home, glimpse the powerful forces that created this volcanic Island in Volcanoes National Park.
American Adrenaline | United States
Spend two weeks traveling through some of America’s most famed natural treasures in Utah and Arizona. Feel the rush as you hike in renowned national parks, raft through deep canyons, and bike around golden sandstone arches in Utah. Peer out over the edge of the Grand Canyon, sleep under the stars, and discover the rich Native American history in Arizona. Though designed for adrenaline junkies, this program also provides a full dose of stunning beauty and fascinating history.
Hanoi to Ha Long | Vietnam
Explore the quaint and history packed streets of Old Hanoi, sampling the freshest and most delicate flavors of Vietnamese cuisine on every corner. Trek through Ngoc Son-Ngo Luong Nature Reserve and live in a Muong Village where you’ll contribute to an ongoing service initiative. Cruise through Trang An grottoes in Ninh Binh and learn about the rich history of Vietnam’s ancient capital city. Overnight aboard a private junk boat in Ha Long Bay, stopping to explore caves, karsts, and islands as you go.
Updated for 2019
Mystery Trip | ???
This isn’t our typical program. There is no itinerary—each day you’ll awake to clues and it will be up to your group to decipher them and unravel that day’s adventure. You’ll explore iconic sites, discover the remote villages of some of our most beloved staff members, and blaze a trail for future students by exploring destinations Rustic hasn’t visited.
Want to learn more about our new programs? Click below to see all travel opportunities.
Originally from a small town in Massachusetts, Emily realized her dreams of living in the mountains when she moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the fall of 2014. Prior to that, Emily lived and worked in NYC after graduating from Colgate University with a dual degree in Spanish and Environmental Studies. This is Emily’s first experience working with Rustic Pathways but has done a number of service and travel programs in the past including trips to the Dominican Republic, Spain, and Romania. Emily is passionate about playing in the mountains, yoga, cooking, and art.