- Mary Rogelstad
- June 17, 2022
The energy level is high as this summer’s travel heats up. Rustic Pathways college students got things rolling with trips to Morocco, Puerto Rico and now Peru. Then this past week our first groups of students arrived in Costa Rica – Rustic’s most popular summer destination. On top of that, teens are on the move in nations ranging from Fiji and the Dominican Republic to Thailand and Australia.
Here are some early summer activity highlights:
Students on the Turtle Conservation Project, Surf and Service, and Pura Vida Service programs settled into the country in the capital of San Jose and then traveled to their main program destinations. For students in the turtle program, they 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.
The two Pura Vida Service groups enjoyed the views on the way to their basehouse in La Fortuna. Once there, they created rules as a group and then got busy with service.
Projects have included working on an art room for local students, moving a pile of dirt to clear the area for a vegetable garden in Linda Vista Elementary School, helping build a ‘biojardinera’ at the Arenal Volcano National Park’s ranger station, and painting the community center La Altura.
The students also are learning about plants called dormilonas that have leaves that fold inward and droop when touched or shaken, and they’ve taken a walk to see Lake Arenal at the National Park!
Students in the Surf and Service program crossed the Tempiste, which is the longest bridge in Costa Rica and then made it to their basecamp in Playa Grande where they’re surfing on perfect-sized waves, doing service and taking breaks in the pool.
In this Caribbean nation, students have been busy in both the Public Health in the Caribbean and the Mountain Air and Island Service programs. For the mountain program, the students have been working hard in Jarabacoa, which is nuzzled in the central mountains of Dominican Republic
They ride in an open air truck to and from service every day to take in the scenery. Their goal has been to dig a trench to get water to a local community.
The Public Health students visited a hospital to learn about health care access in the Dominican Republic and the region they are staying – Juan Dolio. For one service project, the group mixed some cement for a floor. They also learned about the importance of sugar cane in the Dominican Republic and then after getting some rest, received First Aid and CPR training.
For the first time in two years, Fijians happily welcomed Rustic students to their nation. First on the agenda has been the Big Fiji Explorer program followed by the first session of Sun, Sand and International Service.
In the Explorer program there has been almost non-stop adventure! They snorkeled near a reef, and waded in a tide pool to look for crabs, baby fish, sea cucumbers and blue starfish.
They went tubing and ziplining and visited the sand dunes in Sigatoka where they worked alongside park rangers to expand the dry forest. The students also visited the Tavuni Hill Fort, which is a tribal hill fort, checked out a large local cave and saw fantastic views of Momi Bay.
In the service program, the group participated in a traditional Fijian welcome ceremony and then began their service project. They’re working on building a bathroom for a family in a nearby community.
In Thailand students in both the Southeast Asian Adventurer and Marine and Rainforest Conservation programs have been on the go. Teens in the Adventurer program tried Muy Thai boxing, climbed up the Sticky Falls, went rafting, biked to a water park, strolled through Bangkok, and learned about Buddhism.
They also visited a sacred temple cave and did service, planting and pruning vegetation. Likewise, they spent time with local elephants, learning about animal conservation.
In the Marine program, the students visited the Muslim fishing village of Ban Mot where their host families taught them about efforts to conserve mangroves, seagrasses, and the organisms that call them home. Later they explored Chiang Mai University’s FORRU (Forest Restoration and Research Unit) and worked to diversify the region’s forest cover to combat the area’s increasing biodiversity loss.
The students also boarded a longtail boat, for some island hopping and went snorkeling above an coral reef. Then they headed to the rainforest at Khao Sok National Park.
In Peru, both the Sacred Valley and Andes to Amazon programs are again up and running this summer. In the Sacred Valley program the students hiked to an Incan archeological site outside of the town of Pachar, where they helped with a water security project. They’ve tried local cuisine and have been checking out the local scenery.
In the Andes to Amazon program students planted 120 saplings on the mountainside by Pumamarca in the Sacred Valley, walked the steep and adventurous hike up to Machu Picchu, and climbed a 1000 ft protected pathway.
They did a community reforestation project with locals in a small village, checked out artisan markets in Cusco and did a workshop at a chocolate factory. Other highlights include a hike to the region’s highest mountain in the region called Ausangate, a rafting trip, and time soaking in some hot springs.
The college and the high school groups visiting Morocco in the Moroccan Wanderer program have been traveling across the country. They journeyed towards the Sahara Desert, stopping at Kasbah Ait Ben-Haddou which they explored through a scavenger hunt. They visited Dades Gorges and Todgha Gorges before camping in the desert. And they spent time in the city of Marrakech, among other places.
United States – Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Alaska
Students are visiting Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Alaska this summer. In Hawaii they gathered in Kona and drove across the volcano to Hilo, the rainy side of the island. The students then spent time on the beach and toured some local waterfalls. Luckily they’ve had amazing weather and swam in both fresh and salt water in one day.
In Puerto Rico, students worked on the finca Amasar to help restore topsoil around breadfruit trees. A group went to a local artist’s gallery and learned a little bit more about the indigenous Taino. They’ve also enjoyed the beach and took salsa lessons.
Our Off the Map: Alaska program gets launched in July. In the meantime, school groups visited Alaska, California and Hawaii. And there are many more trips ahead. For remaining program availability, please visit our upcoming programs page.