Summer Volunteer Programs For Teens In Southeast Asia With ARCC

ARCC offers four summer volunteer programs for teens in Southeast Asia, each of which delves into the spirit of this region

Southeast Asia evokes converse images of palm-fringed rice paddies and the cacophony of tuk-tuks flying through the streets; the smells of food carts overloaded with sumptuous treats and hammocks strung on empty beaches; pious monks in orange, walking into ornate temples, clutching their iPhones. This is Southeast Asia. The history of the region, both romantic and horrific, contributes to the exotic nature of travel in this part of the world, and the enticing dichotomy between Eastern tradition and Western modernization.

ARCC offers four summer volunteer programs for teens in Southeast Asia, each of which delves into the spirit of this region, including its rugged history, practiced traditions, and progressive outlook.

ARCC’s Teen Summer Programs in Thailand for High School Students

ARCC has been operating summer volunteer programs for teens in Southeast Asia for over 30 years, starting with Thailand in 1996. It was then that we first met our wonderful Thai partners who have been providing an unforgettable introduction to Thailand for every visiting ARCC student.

Thailand is home to breathtaking beauty and the world’s most gracious people; a kingdom rich in history and tradition. It is no coincidence Thailand is known as the “Land of Smiles”. On an ARCC volunteer program in Thailand, we get off the tourist track and explore Thailand in a way that few get the chance to.

Our two community service programs for teens in Thailand are some of our most popular and enduring trips.

Thailand: Elephant Experience | 50 Community Service Hours

ARCC’s 28-day Thailand: Elephant Experience is for students who are passionate about and fascinated by elephants. Students on this volunteer program get a glimpse into what a career working with giant mammals is like. We spend time working alongside veterinarians, conservationists, farmers, and wildlife biologists as they treat and care for elephants that have been abandoned or mistreated in a former life. Mitigating the crisis of another endangered mammal, teens work to conserve dugong, a marine relative of the elephant, similar to a manatee. Teens also spend time at a Buddhist temple learning about meditation and mindfulness, explore enchanting Chiang Mai Province in northern Thailand, and cap off their experience with a PADI SCUBA Open Water course on a stunning tropical island.

Thailand: Hill Tribe Impact | 30 Community Service Hours

ARCC’s Thailand: Hill Tribe Impact program is packed with 14 non-stop days of community service and adventure! This immersive program splits time between the highlands surrounding Thailand’s historic Chiang Mai Province and the thriving metropolis of Bangkok. Though students still get to spend time with Thailand’s beloved elephants, this isn’t just a shortened version of our Thailand: Elephant Experience program listed above. Our spotlight community service project on this program takes place in a rural hill tribe village school, where we volunteer to teach English to kids in the local community. We still somehow find time to speak with Buddhist monks as we learn about mindfulness from those who know it best.

ARCC’S Teen Summer Programs in Vietnam and Cambodia for High School Students

Taken by the warmth and wonder of Vietnam and Cambodia, ARCC Programs started summer community service trips and Gap Semesters in Vietnam and Cambodia immediately after scouting the area in 2013. These two countries, while very different, are forever tied by their history as part of Indochine. They both suffered the pangs of Colonialism from the French and the Chinese, and both were devastated by the effects of the Vietnamese/American war.

While Vietnam left the war as victors, ready to rebuild their nation, the instability plunged Cambodia into a vicious genocide and eventual civil war, before they could finally rebuild in the 1990s. Now, in peace, both countries move forward, and as student volunteers, we feel honored to be a part of their peace.

Our programs in Vietnam and Cambodia are truly immersive and leave students with a sense of purpose and accomplishment as they work on projects for the people of these gracious countries.

Vietnam/Cambodia: Project Clean Water | 30 Community Service Hours

ARCC’s Vietnam/Cambodia: Project Clean Water Program is an 18-day summer community service program which offers students the ability to explore and compare these two very different nations. Vietnam is a country in constant motion, whether it be the myriad scooters that are seemingly everywhere or the ubiquitous street hawkers trying to distance you from your pocket change. The people, the food, the culture, and history are all fascinating. You get the sense that things are on the move as Vietnam works hard to emerge into the 21st century.

Alternatively, Cambodia is a little sleepier and not quite as driven as Vietnam. Two histories dominate the Cambodian narrative: the 12th century Angkor Wat era and the Pol Pot decade of the 1980s. We study each and visit the remnants of these two very powerful times in Cambodia’s history. In Cambodia, we also do what many consider to be the best ARCC community service project anywhere: building water treatment filters for villages lacking access to clean water.

ARCC’S Teen Summer Programs in Southeast Asia for High School Students

With the addition of the Vietnam and Cambodia Program in 2013, it became apparent that our students longed to extend their Thai travels to Vietnam and Cambodia, or vice versa. Now, students don’t have to decide on one program or the other, as our Southeast Asia: Grassroots Initiatives program offers community service for teens over 32 days in all three countries.

Southeast Asia: Grassroots Initiatives | 60 Community Service Hours

ARCC’S 32-day Southeast Asia Community Service Program combines all of the programs above to create the complete Southeast Asia Experience. We work with elephants and the hill tribe communities in Thailand, build water filters in Cambodia, and explore the sights and sounds of old Hanoi. Additionally, students spend a few extra days working in Hanoi at a village for victims of Agent Orange, an herbicide used in the Vietnam war, which has had lasting effects on veterans and their offspring.

This is ARCC’s longest program and one of our most popular. We think you can see why!


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.