Under
18

Unearthing New Experiences

Rainforest and Wildlife Conservation Teen Volunteering in Costa Rica

Live with other teens on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast while learning about rainforest conservation.

GVI Hub: a home-from-home
Durations: 2 weeks
Free parent consultation

Program information

Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime in Costa Rica! Work alongside our local partners to champion sea turtle conservation, aid in coastal cleanups and engage in community recycling projects. You’ll also learn about sustainable farming practices and engage in cultural exchange initiatives. With GVI, every experience is an opportunity to create lasting impact and unforgettable memories.

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Overview
Dates & Prices
Itinerary
What's Included
Life On Base
Cultural Immersion
Speak to alumni
Arrivals
Flights
Your Impact
Our Ethics
Program ethics
Qualifications & Training Options
Parent Info
Support & Safety

Program overview

In the heart of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, teens aged 15 to 17 come together for an unforgettable experience. With its lush jungle and stunning beaches, Gandoca sets the stage for an adventure like no other. Our focus is on making a real impact – whether it’s preserving sea turtles, cleaning up coastlines or supporting sustainable farming. Come join our Gandoca crew and contribute to meaningful change!

Teens on this program actively participate in sea turtle nesting projects and contribute to beach cleanups, sustainable farming initiatives and recycling projects.

Throughout this program, teens will receive training, guidance and support from world-class leaders in the field, carefully chosen for their expertise and ability to inspire and mentor young people. This hands-on experience will help participants develop valuable skills such as intercultural competency, teamwork, resilience, self-awareness, and leadership – essential qualities for their future college applications and employability.

In July and August, be ready for long, sunny days. You might encounter some local wildlife like insects and bats, but it’s all part of the adventure. Mosquito repellent will come in handy. Keep in mind, sometimes luxuries like warm water and electricity might be unavailable, but it’s all part of the authentic experience of living in this beautiful place!

GVI has been running ethical and responsible programs for under 18s since 2012. We prioritise health and safety, going the extra mile for our younger participants. We’re proud to meet British Standards 8848. With over a decade’s experience in Costa Rica, we’re dedicated to locally-led projects that prioritise community needs, long-term involvement and local capacity-building.

Upon arrival at their destination, all teen participants are met by a GVI staff member. They offer continuous support throughout their program, ensuring their safety and well-being every step of the way.

Highlights

  • Sea turtle conservation

The opportunity to get involved in different parts of the nesting process and conduct hands-on sea turtle research.

  • Experience the rainforest

Observe Costa Rican wildlife in their natural habitat. Species may include sea turtles, monkeys, amphibians and neo-tropical birds.

  • Epic adventures

Set off on an incredible adventure with fellow thrill-seekers, exploring mind-blowing destinations and creating unforgettable memories.

  • Change the world

Take part in hands-on conservation projects, guided by inspiring mentors and championing the United Nations’ sustainability goals.

  • Discover new cultures

Immerse yourself in different cultures,  indulge in local flavours and connect with a worldwide crew of fellow changemakers and adventurers.

  • A force for good

Be a part of a program that’s all about ethics and sustainability, working on projects that create a lasting positive impact on the world.

  • Unleash your potential

Develop crucial life skills, expand your horizons, and help tackle global challenges within a nurturing and empowering learning environment.

  • A secure journey

We’re dedicated to the highest standards of health and safety, ensuring you a worry-free and protected adventure at every twist and turn.

 

Activities

  • Educational lagoon tour

Learn about the mangrove ecosystem’s importance in combating climate change. Identify biodiversity within the lagoon ecosystem.

  • Beach cleanup

Contribute to coastal restoration efforts and learn about recycling initiatives. Gain insights into the impact of consumerism and environmental practices.

  • Sea turtle conservation patrols

Assist in monitoring turtle nesting and relocating nests to protect them. Discuss evolving indigenous attitudes towards turtle conservation.

  • Visit an organic farm

Tour a local cacao farm, exploring sustainable farming practices. Understand the benefits and challenges of organic agriculture.

  • Mangrove reforestation

Plant mangrove seeds and discuss their environmental benefits. Research and present findings on mangrove ecosystems.

  • Recycling project

Participate in local recycling initiatives and discuss environmental issues. Compare local attitudes towards recycling with those in your home country.

  • Community organic gardens

Help create organic gardens to promote food accessibility and education. Assist in educating students about sustainable farming practices.

  • Spanish classes

Learn basic Spanish phrases and discuss language privilege. Reflect on language barriers and their impact on communities.

  • Cultural awareness workshops

Learn about Afro-Caribbean and indigenous cultures in Gandoca. Reflect on personal cultural experiences and perceptions.

  • Cooking class

Prepare traditional Costa Rican dishes with locally sourced ingredients. Discuss the importance of sustainable food practices.

  • Visit the Sepecue community

Travel by boat to Talamanca Bribri Indigenous Territory, home to Costa Rica’s second-largest indigenous population. 

  • Sustainable agricultural tour

Experience farm-to-table dining and learn about organic agriculture. Understand the connection between sustainable farming and environmental conservation.

  • Waterfall hike

Discover a secluded waterfall and enjoy nature-inspired activities. Appreciate the beauty of Costa Rica’s wilderness.

  • Hike through wildlife refuge

Embark on a full-day hike from Gandoca to Mazanillo, through lush jungles and pristine beaches. Spot monkeys, sloths and diverse wildlife along the way.

  • Beach time

Relax and explore the tranquil beaches of Manzanillo. Reflect on the importance of indigenous communities to the region’s environment and culture.

  • Gandoca rainforest hike

Explore Gandoca’s secondary forest on a 3-hour hike, where you could see poison dart frogs, monkeys, birds and snakes.  

  • Visit the National Museum

Learn about Costa Rica’s history and cultural heritage. Reflect on your trip experiences and perceptions of the country.

At the end of the program you’ll receive a professional reference from your program manager. You’ll also have the option of earning a certificate endorsed by the University of Richmond if you choose to complete our Leading Teams for Impact online course.

Program details

Dates and prices

Select a start date:

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Payment plans. Flexible payment plans allow you to pay in instalments.

What happens next?

Once you apply, a personal Enrollment Manager will be assigned to walk you through the rest of the process.

Itinerary

The following itinerary is an example of the activities and project work that participants might get involved in on this program. More specific details of the program are finalised several months before each start date.

Day 1

Hola, amigo! After settling into your homestay, you’ll get a health & safety briefing, be trained on how to work with turtles, and learn some key Spanish phrases.

Day 2

Take a tour of Gandoca! After exploring the jungles and beaches, meet the community and learn more about the region’s Afro-Caribbean culture.

Day 3

Take a boat tour of the lagoon and mangroves, learning more about the animals that live there and why this wetland ecosystem is so important.

Day 4

A big day! First up, you'll learn some more Spanish while cooking traditional Costa Rican tamales. Then off to the beach: to clean up plastic pollution and look for nesting turtles!

Day 5

Tour a local organic cacao farm. Then another Spanish lesson, before we head back to the beach to monitor turtle nests and protect hatchlings.

Day 6

Start the day at the lagoon, collecting and planting mangrove seeds for a reforestation project. Then help out at the community recycling program and learn the principle of “reduce, reuse, recycle”.

Day 7

Work alongside community members in their organic garden, where greens are harvested for free school lunches. After practising your Spanish, head to the beach for turtle surveillance!

Day 8

Travel by boat to Talamanca Bribri Indigenous Territory, a forested area in the foothills of the Talamanca mountain range which is home to the second-largest Indigenous population in Costa Rica.

Day 9

Spend the day with a Bribri elder and his family; touring the community, playing cultural games, and sharing traditional stories around the fire.

Day 10

Travel to Finca la Subversiva, an organic farm, where you will have a complete farm-to-table dining experience. After lunch, we’ll hike to a secluded waterfall to swim and play games.

Day 11

Hike from Gandoca to Mazanillo through one of Costa Rica’s most biodiverse jungles and along the Caribbean coast’s pristine beaches. Expect to see monkeys, sloths and a variety of reptiles and birds.

Day 12

Our last night in Gandoca! After looking for as many wild and wonderful jungle animals as we can on a morning hike, it’s time to greet your hosts. Can you thank them for their hospitality in Spanish?

Day 13

We’re off to Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve, which has one of the highest concentrations of raptors in the world. You might also encounter raccoons, sloths, iguanas and basilisks.

Day 14

Adios, amigos! After a morning at Costa Rica's national history museum in San Jose, reflect on the friends you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learned before your flight home.

What’s included?

What's included
General
Food
Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)
Airport pick up (unless stated)
All project equipment
24-hour in-country support from local staff
24-hour emergency desk
Activities
Sustainable project work
Data collection and research
DofE Residential activity provider
Pre-program training
Pre-departure webinar
Pre-departure training (online)
University of Richmond endorsed leadership course
Welcome training
GVI welcome presentation
Health & safety
Local culture & environment
UN SDGs
Impact & ethics
Child protection
Career services
PDF reference
Certificates
Program certificate
University certificate – specialisation (University of Richmond)
PVSA certificate
What's excluded
Not included
Flights
International and domestic airport taxes
Medical and travel insurance
Visa costs
Police or background check
Personal items and toiletries
Additional drinks and gratuities

Life On Base

Unplug and get in touch with nature in Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve. Situated in the heart of the jungle, our base is the ideal location for those with a passion for wildlife conservation and adventure. During field work, you’ll hike the forest looking for signs of jungle cat species, migratory birds, jungle birds and a wide variety of mammals, reptiles and amphibians. You might even encounter more elusive animals like sloths and tamanduas. Morning patrols feature spectacular sunrises over the indigenous forest, and night walks reveal a star-filled sky. We also assist with turtle hatching sites on local beaches.

Accommodation

Our research station is located in the heart of the reserve, with t...

Transportation

All airport transports and transport into town will be organised by GVI. To arrange transport for weekend trips or to spend your free time, speak to your program manager. For pr...

Communication

We recommend participants buy a local Claro network SIM card upon arrival in Costa Rica which allows access to a 3G connection.

...

Meals

Meals will be prepared by a local cook.

...

Climate

Costa Rica is a tropical country, with a climate ranging from warm and rainy to hot and humid. Being a rainforest, the weather is highly variable and it can rain at any time of ...

Fitness

The program is physically demanding and a high level of fitness is required. Most days are spent out in th...

Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches global awareness, adaptability and critical thinking – skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and will also be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many different activities that you can get involved in during your free time, or before and after your program.

On our community programs, the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore topics like local cuisine and religion, or how sustainable development challenges are affecting local contexts.

Cahuita Town

The Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve (KIR) is home to the Bribri tribe, one of several indigenous groups that live in Costa Rica. Participants have the opportunity to work closely wit...

Speak to alumni

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Get a first-hand perspective

Meet us

Arrivals

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.

As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals.

We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile.

This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to be an active global citizen after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve is a key area for many interlinked conservation efforts as it is home to several species including:

  • Jungle cats like pumas and ocelots. 
  • Peregrine falcons and plumbeous kites Kekoldi is the third most concentrated area for migratory raptors in the world.
  • Thousands of tropical bird, reptile and amphibian species.
  • Species like sloths, tamanduas and kinkajou.

 

Rainforest biodiversity surveys

We assist the Kekoldi Reserve science team with biological assessment surveys of the three major habitat and forest types in the reserve. We note a wide range of species on our surveys, including the rain frog, red-eyed treefrog, three species of toucan, spider monkey, mantled howler monkey, white-lipped peccary, eyelash palm pit viper and Baird’s tapir (although these are very elusive, so no promises!) Staff and participants walk marked paths in the forest, noting sightings, tracks and vocalisations. Only species identified with 100% certainty can be recorded. The data is shared with KIR, who uses a standardised methodology to monitor the condition of each trail over time. This helps them to understand the health of the local environment and whether their current conservation efforts are working.

Sea Turtle Research

We assist Turtle Rescue Cahuita (TRC) with sea turtle research and protection by patrolling the beach, and assisting in hatchery opportunities using internationally recognised protocols during turtle nesting and hatching season (from March to August each year). 

To participate in the turtle project, you’ll need a good pair of rubber boots, thick socks, and dark-coloured, long-sleeved, lightweight clothing. 

From March to August a team walks the beach each night looking for nesting sea turtles. Depending on the time of year, you might not see a single turtle, or you might see multiple turtles in one night. When a turtle is encountered, different kinds of research activities might be carried out, depending on what stage of the nesting process she is in emerging from the sea, selecting a nest site, digging a body pit, digging her egg chamber to lay her eggs, covering her egg chamber, disguising her nest, or returning to sea. This might include checking for distinctive markings to see if she’s been to the beach before and making a note for future researchers if she returns, tagging her flippers, measuring her carapace, counting her eggs, marking her nest, or checking for abnormalities in the mother turtle or eggs. You might also determine whether any eggs have hatched, been eroded by the sea, been attacked by predators (like raccoons, white-nosed coatis or ghost crabs), or been poached by humans. This information is used to investigate whether any areas of the beach are more susceptible to nest loss. 

Hatched nests are excavated to determine hatchling success and survival rates, the reason for losses in egg development, and the actual status of the nests, including whether or not they were partially or fully poached.

Wild Cat Population And Predation Research

Kekoldi is home to several endangered or vulnerable wild jungle cat species – including ocelot, margay, puma and jaguarundi.

Our research assists reserve authorities and conservation teams to determine the population sizes of each cat species, map out the territoriality of individual cats within each of those species, and identify the availability of prey species in the area and the subsequent effect on feeding behaviour. Direct observations of these elusive animals can be difficult, but the use of remote observation techniques like camera trapping has proven very successful in surveying and monitoring wild cats across large areas of forest.

Bird Research

Kekoldi has the third largest concentration of migratory raptors in the world, with 4.6 million raptors counted from a single point. It is also the biggest known migration spot for peregrine falcons and plumbeous kites.

We assist Kekoldi Hawkwatch, who study and monitor raptors and raptor predation in the reserve. The study of the health of predators in an ecosystem provides invaluable data about the health of the entire system, environmental changes and pressure, and can help guide overall conservation strategies. The Hawkwatch watch-site is located in the heart of the reserve, and provides a 360º view of surrounding forest which is part of the Talamanca-Caribbean Biological Corridor that connects La Amistad National Park to the Caribbean coast. This zone is extremely biodiverse, including at least 59 mammals, 43 amphibians and over 400 bird species.

Project objectives

 

GVI Kekoldi’s Long-term Objectives:

1. Increase scientific knowledge of Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve.

2. Increase awareness of the ecological value of the Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve.

3. Build local capacity to support long-term conservation of biodiversity and sustainable community development in Costa Rica.

4. Minimise our environmental impact on Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve and raise awareness of environmental issues amongst participants and visitors.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.

 

We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.

Our 10 ethical commitments

01

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.

02

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.

03

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.

04

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.

05

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.

06

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that every participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.

07

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.

08

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.

09

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.

10

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.

Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.

However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.

Program ethics

No orphanage programs

We don’t support or allow participants to work in institutional residential care facilities, also known as orphanages. We partner with ReThink Orphanages and Freedom United.

Learn more
Child and vulnerable adult protection policy

Our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy requires all our staff and participants to complete a criminal background check and to learn why you shouldn’t reveal a child’s identifying factors in photographs. We support the ChildSafe Movement.

Learn more
No medical volunteering

We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.

Learn more
No disability support programs

We don’t offer any programs where our participants work directly with people with disabilities. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country.

Learn more
Aligned to local objectives

Each one of our initiatives is aligned to objectives set by a local organisation or professional. Our staff and participants work to support these local actors in achieving their specific goals.

Local employees remain employed

Our participants don’t replace the staff employed by local organisations. Rather, they support currently employed staff with achieving their objectives. Our goal is always to increase local capacity to address local problems.

Local employees remain focused

Participants require training and support to ensure that they carry out tasks correctly. Our staff provide this training and support so that local staff can focus on what is truly important to their organisation at the time.

No entertainment-based activities

We don’t support the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. This includes riding animals, having them perform tricks, feeding or bathing them or getting close to them to take photos

No orphaned animal sanctuaries

We don’t encourage, support or allow the rearing of “orphaned” wild baby animals kept at a “sanctuary”. The conservation value of these types of programs is negligent and would only ethically be used in extremely rare cases

Guidelines for touching or movement restriction

When wild animals are restricted for conservation purposes we follow the guidelines of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Animal welfare guidelines

We ensure that the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are followed. These include the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from distress, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear, pain, injury or disease.

Local community empowerment

We ensure that conservation efforts are also always locally led, that community needs are front-and centre of any conservation effort and that our participants, projects and partners work to increase local community engagement in local conservation efforts.

Learn more
No veterinary programs

We don’t offer any veterinary programs or animal rescue and rehabilitation programs. We don’t allow participants to do any work they would not be able to do in their home country.

Learn more

Training

A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.

For all GVI participants

Orientation: Travelling Responsibly and Ethically

Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.

Orientation: UN Sustainable Development Goals

Introduction to the history and evolution of sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and how these related to your project work.

Orientation: Further Opportunities for Impact

Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.

For all participants at Kekoldi

Community: Women’s Empowerment

Learn about gender equality, skills development and examples of income generating activities.

Community: human empowerment

Learn about our empowerment principles.

Conservation: survey techniques and logistics

An introduction to different survey techniques and best practice guidelines for surveys; introduction to different types of data and how to record information via a datasheet.

Conservation: biodiversity & target species identification

Learn about biodiversity and how biodiversity is measured, and classifying different species and how to identify species that indicate the health of the habitat.

Marine conservation: pollution and plastics

Learn about issues with plastic and measures that can be taken to help reduce plastic consumption.

Wild Cat Monitoring Training

Learn about various wild cats biology and behaviour, how to identify a specific specimen, how to identify tracks, and how to set up a camera on a trail.

Turtle Monitoring Training

Learn about turtle biology, how to measure a turtle, perform a health check, how to distinguish between old and new turtle tracks on the beach and how to excavate a nest.

Canal Bird Identification Training

Learn how to identify the 30 target species important to MINAE and Tortuguero park, and how to input data from these surveys.

Biodiversity Survey Training

Learn how to identify jungle species that indicate the health of the habitat, how to record and enter data, and the protocol of forest surveys.

Certificates & qualifications

GVI Online Leading Teams for Impact course (optional)

Leadership is a critical skill set for anyone looking to make an impact or drive sustainable development. Develop your own leadership style and learn how to set achievable objectives, give effective feedback and manage conflict successfully. After successfully completing the course, which you have the option of doing prior to your in-country program, you’ll receive a certificate from the University of Richmond.

This online course, valued at £295, is included in all volunteering programs. Full course details can be found here.

Duke of Edinburgh Award

Young British nationals looking to earn their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and improve their employability can use GVI’s teen programs to complete several of the required components like volunteering, physical fitness, skills-development, completing an expedition, and learning how to thrive in a residential context. The Duke of Edinburgh Award can be used to enhance your personal statement on your UCAS application.

Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

GVI is a proud member of the Gap Year Association.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.

Safety

View support and safety protocols

Support

View risk mitigation

Health and safety case studies

How GVI upholds health and safety

It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays ju...

GVI's commitment to safety and security

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How GVI remains prepared for natural disasters

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes ...

How GVI manages participants expectations

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations a...