3 Impactful Summer Volunteer Programs In Costa Rica For Teens

Costa Rica service programs have continued to be our most popular destination for almost 25 years
Teaching English on an ARCC Summer Volunteer Program in Costa Rica

ARCC has been operating summer volunteer programs in Costa Rica since 1993 and our Costa Rica service programs have continued to be our most popular destination for almost 25 years and it’s for good reason: we return to the same communities year after year to volunteer on community-driven service projects. Through the decades we’ve built deep relationships through meaningful service and immersion in these communities. Over the last more than two decades, ARCC students have built schoolhouses, greenhouses, suspension bridges, and roads. They’ve become part of the community as they painted murals and helped a generation fine-tune their English skills. ARCC students continue to make a difference through sustainable, community-driven service projects each summer and we are consistently amazed by what they accomplish.

Costa Rica is a country filled with lush tropical landscapes, rich culture, incredible biodiversity, and wonderful people. “Pura Vida”, or the “Pure Life”, is more than just a way of life in Costa Rica, it’s deeply ingrained in the culture. Loosely translated as living life to its fullest, is Costa Rica’s national motto and is woven into nearly every aspect of ARCC’s community service programs for teens in Costa Rica.

ARCC’s volunteer programs in Costa Rica are one-of-a-kind. Rather than being restricted to a “base camp” our service trips travel throughout the country. We take advantage of this mobility and immerse ourselves in the culture as a traveling family. We explore different national parks, communities, and locations and our service projects and adventure activities take us from one coast of Costa Rica to the other as we discover all this amazing country has to offer.

There is too much to see in Costa Rica to be confined to one location. Costa Rica is home to 29 National Parks,19 wildlife refuges, and 8 biological reserves. A full 25% of the country is land set aside to be protected from development. Costa Rica offers a stunning array of ecosystems including white sand beaches on the Caribbean, towering volcanoes, lush rainforests, jungle-wrapped river canyons, and 12,000-foot peaks.

ARCC’s Costa Rica volunteer programs for teens in 7th through 12th grade offer students the opportunity to give back to this amazing country. Students volunteer with sea turtle conservation groups, help rescued animals in a wildlife sanctuary, build important infrastructure in a remote ranching community, teach English in a rural school, and help protect endangered sea turtle hatchlings as they fight their way from the nest to the ocean.

ARCC’s Three Summer Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica for Middle School and High School Students

Costa Rica Classic (7th Grade and Up)

30 Community Service Hours

ARCC’s 14-day Costa Rica: Classic volunteer program is for students who are looking for a two-week trip that combines thrilling adventure and rich, community-driven service. Our spotlight volunteer project on this program centers on adding infrastructure to a remote cloud forest ranching community. Our wonderful relationship for the past 20 years with this community has resulted in ARCC students building homes, schools, greenhouses and even a suspension bridge alongside members of the community. This program also has a series of adventure components (whitewater rafting, ziplining, and surfing) as well as an English teaching module where we work with local primary school students to improve their English skills.

Costa Rica Wildlife Conservation (9th Grade and Up)

50 Community Service Hours

ARCC’s 14-day Costa Rica Wildlife Conservation summer service program spends much of the volunteer service time working in support of animals. We volunteer with sea turtles on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast and spend time working with a local wildlife refuge that rescues animals from animal traffickers and aids in the rehabilitation of injured animals. Of course, no trip to Costa Rica would be complete without a little adventure so we also spend time rafting on the Pacuare River and ziplining in the jungle canopy to get our dose of adrenaline.

Costa Rica Ultimate (8th Grade and Up)

50 Community Service Hours

ARCC’s 21-day Costa Rica Ultimate summer service program offers students the full Costa Rica volunteer experience. A longer combination of the Costa Rica Classic and the Costa Rica Wildlife Conservation programs, the ultimate volunteer adventure brings together the best elements of each of the two volunteer programs in Costa Rica mentioned above. This volunteer trip includes volunteering with our friends in the cloud forest, sea turtle conservation on the Caribbean, teaching English to “Tico” school children, and adventure activities like rafting, surfing and ziplining. If you’ve got time and want to do it all, this is your trip!

With more than two decades of group travel experience in Costa Rica, our summer volunteer programs in Costa Rica represent the most impactful service projects and exhilarating adventure elements we’ve discovered. If you’d like to learn more about any of the three programs outlined above, you can call us and speak to a regional director or attend a webinar an learn more about all of our meaningful summer volunteer programs for teens.


ARCC Programs has offered summer travel programs for teens for over 35 years. With travel programs for teens on six continents, there is something for everyone. Find a summer program on our website or request a catalog today.