Participate in a variety of service projects and learn about different ways to support the local community while enjoying the relaxed and easy-going South Pacific lifestyle. Fijians have long believed strangers should be welcomed as long-lost friends and given the highest degree of consideration and hospitality. Experience the inviting culture of Fiji while giving back to our hosts through a combination of service initiatives at the Eco-Lodge. Each group’s projects will be different, as we work with different villages and communities.
Students love the connections they make with the local Fijian communities!
Established in 2004, the Rustic Pathways Eco-Lodge continues to positively integrate itself into the local environment and community. The main lodge was constructed using locally grown timber. The ground level contains a kitchen, office, large dining area, and game room with billiards. The house also features a large deck leading to an infinity-edge swimming pool. The grounds have extensive gardens, sports fields, and meditation decks tucked among fruit trees and swaying palms. The base is a favorite location for students traveling in Fiji. Rooms are divided between dormitory-style bedrooms and several authentic bures, or cabins, spread throughout the property. Bathrooms are modern, with flushing toilets and solarpowered hot-water showers. Our base is located between two Fijian villages and surrounded by a number of local farms that are generally owned by families of Indian descent, which make up close to 40 percent of Fiji’s population. The mixture of Fijian and Indian neighbors creates an interesting and vibrant atmosphere from which to explore and learn about Fiji and its unique mix of cultures.
Service Projects at the Eco-Lodge
After School Education Programs
Create and deliver after-school Kids Clubs that promote cross-cultural exchange with local students. Help the youth of Fiji develop leadership, teamwork, and communication skills through activities that focus on language, arts and crafts, and physical education. Learn about the education system in Fiji and build programs around topics and themes outlined by our partner schools. Please note that these sessions will not be facilitated after school so as not to disrupt regular school hours.
Environmental Service and Sustainability
The daily life of most Fijians is still closely tied to the natural world, but increasing urban development, pollution, and other environmental challenges are a growing concern. Learn more about these issues as you help protect Fiji’s magnificent natural environment through beach cleanups and reforestation projects with park rangers who are working to reduce pollution and prevent erosion along the coast. Explore Fiji’s amazing island eco-system as you support local environmental conservation efforts.
Village Infrastructure Project
Rural villages in Fiji often have limited access to the basic infrastructure that is essential for healthy, productive, and sustainable communities. Join our ongoing work to build toilets and footpaths in a Fijian village to improve health and sanitation. You will be amazed at the warm welcome you receive as you work with villagers to mix cement, lay pipes, and make a positive impact. Lead health awareness activities for village children and get a real taste of what life is like in a traditional Fijian village.
Make much-needed improvements to school and kindergarten facilities and paint colorful murals alongside village students. We work with a group of rural schools around our Eco-Lodge Base that operate on very limited budgets yet continuously strive to improve their facilities to provide a better education for their students. Join forces with local children, parents, and teachers, and share in lots of laughs and fun as you work on building projects to improve school facilities and make new friends in Fiji.
For Fijians living near the poverty line, the high cost of food in the country can be a major concern. You may spend a morning or afternoon in the home of a village family preparing healthy meals and then head out to deliver them in partnership with social service agencies. Or, you may work on our chicken coop project, which works with local families to develop both a source of food and income so they can better meet basic needs. Learn best practices of sustainability through this popular initiative.
Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:
Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing long shorts (think Bermuda and basketball shorts), t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.
A school backpack or similar sized bag is ideal.
- Photocopy of passport
- Journal and pens
- Outlet power converter
- Ear buds
- Change of clothes
- Reusable water bottle
- Additional community service forms if needed
- Any relevant Scuba Diving certifications
- Small backpack or overnight bag (if not already using as carry-on)
- Consent to Travel form
- Rustic Pathways emergency contacts
A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.
- Socks (6-8)
- Underwear (10-12)
- Pants/capris (2-3)
- Long service shorts (3)
- Long skirt (2-3)
- Tank tops (3-5)
- T-shirts (5-8)
- Long sleeved shirt (1-2)
- Swimsuit (1-2) two-pieces are fine but must be modest
- Quick dry towel
- Beach towel/sarong
- Light rain jacket
- Strappy sandals (like Tevas or Chacos)
(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)
- Body wash
- Face wash
- Oxybenzone-free sunscreen (reef-safe)
- Bug spray
- Feminine hygiene products
- Contact solution
- Foam ear plugs
- Personal med kit
- Wet Wipes
- Razor/shaving cream
- Work gloves (You’ll be glad you rbought them, we promise!)
- Sleeping bag (35 degrees and up)
- Visas for students traveling on U.S. passports will be issued upon arrival. Make sure you check that you are in Fiji on “Holiday” when you fill out the customs and immigration form on the plane.
- Leggings DO NOT count as long shorts. Long shorts must be loose fitting, like basketball shorts, or cargo shorts.
- You will be receiving a sulu, a traditional Fijian sarong, when you arrive!