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2017 Costa Rica 15 Day Service Adventure

2017 Costa Rica 15 Day Service Adventure

2017 Costa Rica 15 Day Service Adventure

Program Type:Smithsonian Open Enrollment iconOpen Enrollment Learn More

Dates: June 24 - July 8, 2017  |  Tuition: $3,599 Tuition Details

Enroll Now Make a Payment

Dear Families – Welcome to the homepage for the 2017 Costa Rica 15 Day Service Adventure! If this is your first time on this page, please read through the categories under Pre-Enrollment to learn more about this unique travel opportunity, or peruse the other categories as you like. Once you have enrolled, please check out the Post-Enrollment information. Around one month before departure, we will post the remaining information under Program Prep to review on a call with the entire group. We hope you will join us on the adventure of a lifetime in Costa Rica!

Program Highlights

  • Practice your Spanish language skills with locals
  • Explore the gorgeous Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Contribute towards a meaningful service project
View Full Itinerary

Smithsonian Student Adventures was created through a collaboration of the Smithsonian Institution and Walking Tree Travel. Although this video is branded as Walking Tree Travel, it encapsulates the mission and spirit that is present in all SSA programming.

Important Program Details

Click on the sections above to learn more

Program Itinerary

DayLocationDescriptionLodging
1USA - San Jose, Costa RicaToday the group will travel from the USA to Costa Rica. Flights usually arrive in the evening. After arrival, the group will settle into their hotel for the evening and have an orientation meeting where the group will discuss the upcoming trip in detail. Hotel Pacande
2San Jose - La FortunaAfter breakfast we will head to Rancho Margot, an ecological farm and lodge in the heart of the rainforest, about 4 hours north of the capital city. We will tour the farm for an introduction to the flora and fauna in the area, as well as an introduction to the sustainability efforts in the lodge. In the afternoon, we’ll relax by the two natural pools at the Rancho, and eat a delicious dinner made from ingredients sourced directly from the forest. Rancho Margot
3La FortunaAfter breakfast we will enjoy a hike that will take us to Margot’s waterfall. We will spend the morning swimming and relaxing by the riverside. In the afternoon, we’ll enjoy of downtime, and will play a pick-up soccer game with the locals. After dinner, we’ll gather around a bonfire, and hang out with our new “tico” friends Rancho Margot
4La Fortuna - Host VillageAfter breakfast we will hike to Rancho Margot's viewpoint, where we'll get to see Cerro Chato, Arenal Volcano, and Arenal Lake at the same time! After lunch, we will head to the host village to meet our host families. Students will have dinner with their host families this evening.Host Family
5Host CommunityEach day in our host community will include a full day of work at our community service project. Lunch will be either be on-site or at home with families. In the afternoon and evening, activities will vary, but typically include spending time with host families, group excursions around the village, or activities with people from the local community. Throughout the program, we'll have opportunities to interact with community members in Spanish, participate in cultural exchanges, and explore Costa Rican culture.Host Family
6Host CommunityToday, we will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families. Evening activities will vary.Host Family
7Host CommunityToday, we will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families. Evening activities will vary.Host Family
8Host CommunityToday, we will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families. Evening activities will vary.Host Family
9Host CommunityToday, we will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families. Evening activities will vary.Host Family
10Host CommunityToday, we will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families. Evening activities will vary.Host Family
11Host CommunityToday, we will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families. Evening activities will vary.Host Family
12Host CommunityToday we will finish our service project and celebrate with our new friends and family with a fiesta de despedida!Host Family
13Host Community - Manual AntonioAfter breakfast and goodbyes, we will head west to Manuel Antonio on the central Pacific coast. We will settle into our hotel before heading down to the beach where students can take surf lessons on a stretch of coastline that has a reputation for being great for beginners.Hotel California
14Manuel Antonio - San JoseToday we will explore Manuel Antonio national park which bursts with wildlife. Inside we will find idyllic beaches and winding trails that lead through dense jungle. Students can relax, swim and do some souvenir shopping. After lunch we will make the drive back to San Jose for a farewell dinner before our international departure the following morning.Hotel Pacande
15San Jose - USAAfter breakfast, we will head to the airport for a morning departure back to the USA. Your Own Bed

Philosophy Of Travel

Our mission is to inspire the next generation to become global leaders by taking an active interest in the world around them. With a dedication to learning, along with an enduring passion for exploring the world, Smithsonian Student Adventures designs transformative and meaningful travel programs that uncover the authentic culture of each destination and inspire students to take action in their local and global community.

Smithsonian Student Adventures stands for a more open, curious, and compassionate approach to travel. We partner with select schools around the world to provide memorable small-group experiences, and invest in cultivating and maintaining longterm relationships with our partner communities. If you are interested in our organization and philosophy of travel, click here to learn more about us.

Accommodations

San José: www.hotelpacande.com

Pura Suerte: www.purasuerte.com/look.htm

Manuel Antonio: www.hotel-california.com

 

Standards of Behavior

SSA provides fun, safe, and meaningful programs for our travelers. In order to achieve this goal, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct. Any of the following are grounds for early dismissal or in-country consequences at our discretion.

ABSOLUTE DISMISSAL

  1. Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
  2. Associating with participants while they are in possession of or are consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
  3. Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety. This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.

GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL OR IN-COUNTRY CONSEQUENCE

  1. Getting a piercing or tattoo
  2. Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials
  3. Threatening with or using weapons such as firearms, knives, explosives, etc.
  4. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle
  5. Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew
  6. Breaking group rules

These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of a travel program. Please take the time to review these rules as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them before choosing to travel with SSA.

Tuition & Fundraising

Tuition Includes:
all accommodations, basic travel insurance, 3 meals per day, drinking water, ground transportation, group activity and entry fees, full time leadership team and taxes and tips.

Tuition Excludes:
 International airfare, baggage fees, airline minor fees, personal shopping, passport or visa fees, and activities not listed on the itinerary.

We believe that cost should not prevent enthusiastic students from having the opportunity to join an SSA program. We are pleased to offer opportunities for fundraising and payment plans to help make this goal a reality. Please visit our Tuition and Funding page to find out more about tuition, fundraising, payment options, referral discounts, and more.

Passport & Visa Check

US CITIZENS
Passport must be valid for six months after the final day of your travel program, including one open visa page.
No Visa Requirements for US Citizens traveling to Costa Rica.

NON US CITIZENS OR THOSE TRAVELING FROM A COUNTRY OTHER THAN THE USA
Non US citizens should check with their country’s embassy abroad to verify vaccination and visa requirements.
US citizens traveling from a country other than the United States should check the State Department website (www.travel.state.gov) for more information regarding additional visa or vaccine requirements.

Please contact us for further information regarding vaccination and visa requirements.

Health and Safety

Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. SSA will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.

Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.

We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.

VACCINATIONS
Vaccination information and requirements can change frequently. Because of this, and for more information, we suggest that you consult your local travel clinic and/or family physician for specific details.

Travel Insurance

Our experience has taught us that international travel can sometimes be unpredictable. As such, SSA will purchase basic secondary travel and medical insurance for all SSA travelers via Travel Insured International. This service provides the following coverage at no additional cost to our participants:

PLAN COVERAGES

$500 Return Airfare for Trip Interruption
$750 ($150 per day) Trip Delay of six hours or more
$500 (Three or more hours) Missed Connection
$1500 ($250 per article) Baggage/Personal Effects
$300 Baggage Delay – 24 hours
$25,000 Accident & Sickness Medical Expense
$100,000 Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation
Emergency Assistance Non-insurance Worldwide Emergency Assistance Services Included

Once you have been accepted onto your program, SSA will be in touch regarding this insurance and other additional options (see below).

ADDITIONAL OPTIONAL COVERAGES

The following additional optional coverage upgrades are available upon request for an additional premium charge to the traveler. For further information on the premiums associated with these optional coverage enhancements, please email your inquiry to our travel insurance program administrator, Hayashi Insurance Solutions: travelinsurance@jshinsurance.com

– Trip Cancellation Coverage – Reimburses the traveler up to the trip cost insured up to a maximum of $10,000 per person if the trip must be cancelled for unforeseeable life events including but not limited to; medical/health reasons, bereavement, etc.

– Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) – Reimburses the traveler for 75% of the non-refundable trip cost. Cancellation must be made 48 hours or more prior to scheduled departure. Must be purchased at the same time as initial plan purchase and prior to final trip payment. *This benefit is not available to residents of New York State.

The Plan is administered by Hayashi Insurance Solutions (CA DOI 0F61680) a licensed Insurance Agency authorized to transact this insurance under the express authority of Travel Insured International, Inc. and its representatives, and on behalf of Walking Tree Travel, Inc. The Plan contains insurance benefits underwritten by the United States Fire Insurance Company. Fairmont Specialty and Crum & Forster are registered trademarks of United States Fire Insurance Company. The Crum & Forster group of companies is rated A (Excellent) by AM Best Company 2015. The Plan also contains non insurance Travel Assistance Services that are provided by an independent organization, OnCall International, and not by United States Fire Insurance Company or Travel Insured International. Review the Plan Document for complete terms, including benefits, conditions, limitations and exclusions that apply. Coverages may vary and not all coverage is available in all jurisdictions.

Global Leadership Curriculum

Walking Tree Travel has developed a curriculum that helps SSA travelers mature as global leaders before, during, and after their travel program. These simple, engaging tools are meant to spark discussion, frame their experience, and prepare them to travel ethically and effectively both on our programs and in the future. For more information about student learning objectives and the format of the Walking Tree Travel Global Leadership Curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.

Learn More

Language Resources

DUOLINGO

Want to learn a new language and be better prepared for your travel program? Duolingo is the easiest, most entertaining way to start learning and using a new language right away! The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to communicate with locals in your host country and help your fellow travelers navigate a foreign environment.

Tap the Duolingo owl to get started, or download the app to your mobile phone.

duolingo owl logo

Group Flight Information

In an effort to make the flight booking process as smooth as possible, we have partnered with STA Travel. This partnership provides our participants with discounted fares through STA’s contracts with the top airlines to help our travelers get the best possible rates.

STA Travel will help our families and travelers book their round trip travel between their home city and our host countries. We are excited to offer this premium service to our participants so that we can focus on what we do best – providing meaningful adventures around the world, and STA can focus on helping our 

Open Enrollment participants are responsible for booking and paying for their own international flights. You have two options for making your flight arrangements, which are outlined below. With either option, we strongly recommend you book with STA, which you can do by calling their dedicated line at 877-777-8717. 

1. (Preferred) Book a seat on the chaperoned international group flight.

Each Open Enrollment program has a suggested, chaperoned, group flight that will depart from a designated departure city in the United States and arrive to the destination country. Participants on these flights will have the support of our on-scene Airport Liaison as well as an accompanying Program Leader, on-flight. The Airport Liaison will help gather, coordinate and direct the arrival and departure of our participants in the airport and the Program Leader will accompany the group to and from the host country while on the flight. The vast majority of our travelers choose this option. 

Here’s how to proceed:

Call our dedicated representative at STA Travel at 877-777-8717 to learn about your booking options.

  • Tell the agent you are a Smithsonian Student Adventures participant, the full name of the program you are traveling on and your program travel dates. They will walk you through the details of your flight options.
  • Once you know your flight options, you can book directly with STA or on your own to travel to the host country.
    • IMPORTANT NOTE: Should you elect not to travel on the suggested, chaperoned, group flight please email your complete flight reservation to info@SmithsonianSA.com
  • Enjoy the support and ease that comes with this new partnership!

Program participants should meet the airpot liaison at the below airline check-in counter three hours before the international flight. If you are traveling on a connecting Delta flight from your home destination, you will meet your flight chaperone at the boarding gate for your international flight. If you have trouble locating the group, please contact Smithsonian Student Adventures.

                                                  -CHAPERONED GROUP FLIGHT INFORMATION-

DEPARTURE FROM USA
Airline: Delta
Flight: 325
Date: June 24, 2017
Departs: Atlanta, Georgia (ATL) at 5:45pm
Arrives: San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) at 7:40pm

RETURN TO USA
Airline: Delta
Flight: 902
Date: July 8, 2017
Departs: San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) at 7:20am
Arrives: Atlanta, Georgia (ATL) at 1:18pm

2. Book your own flight to the host country.

For this option we require travelers to arrive at the same time, or earlier (no more than 3 hours), than the suggested group flight’s planned arrival. We ask participants not to arrive later than the suggested group flight’s time of arrival. If travelers arrive on their own prior to the rest of the group we will arrange to have the second Program Leader or the Country Director meet them as they land in the host country. 

With either option, we strongly encourage you to book your flights through STA, but it is not required. 

STA operates a full 24/7 emergency line and can support you with issues from date changes, cancellations, or general crisis management support wherever you are in the world. To contact them, please call 800-836-4115.

A NOTE ON FLIGHTS
Air travel is unpredictable. Although we can ensure that our groups arrive to the airport with ample time and follow all airline instructions, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to weather, mechanical problems, labor strikes, etc. Please note that in such an event SSA is not financially responsible for unexpected costs incurred by travelers. Our programs officially begin and end in our host countries.  Notwithstanding, our travelers’ well-being and safety is always our number one priority in all facets of our operations and programming, so please know that in case flight delays or cancellations occur we will do everything we can to get travelers home in a timely manner and will keep family members updated on developments as we are able.
Important note: Please make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the final day in country.
BAGGAGE POLICY
SSA is not responsible for fees associated with checked baggage
or for lost or stolen luggage. We strongly encourage all travelers to pack a carry-on bag if possible, or to at least put all valuables and a change of clothes or two in a carry-on along with all important medications and basic toiletries such as a toothbrush, deodorant, glasses, contacts etc.
UN-ACCOMPANIED MINORS
Please confirm with your air travel provider as some airlines may require that travelers under a certain age have completed an unaccompanied minor parental consent form. Please consult the airline website to confirm whether this is required on your flight.

Leader Profile

SSA will send a minimum of one experienced Program Leader on every program. In addition to this Program Leader, we also have a support staff in our host countries that are available to the group for additional help when necessary. Please read below to see who will be part of the support team on your program.

  • Chamby Zepeda
    Chamby Zepeda Program Leader

    Wheaton College – B.A. Spanish
    Middlebury College – M.A. Spanish Language, Lit & Culture

    Chamby was born in San Salvador, El Salvador, and immigrated to the United States in 1982 at the age of four. He was raised in Maine, and then ventured to Massachusetts graduating from Wheaton College with a degree in Spanish and a minor in Latin American Studies. During college, his teaching career began with a one-month experience of teaching English to Korean children at Sogang Language School, an English ski camp in Seoul. After college he worked as a research assistant in the Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, and then returned to his hometown in Oakland, Maine to teach Spanish for three years. Upon beginning a two-year teaching stay at the Hotchkiss School, he enrolled at Middlebury College, where he received his Master’s in Spanish language, literature and culture. After graduating, he worked as a Spanish teacher, dorm parent, and coach at the Taft School in Watertown, CT. Over the years, he has also accrued extensive experience in volunteering abroad in places like El Salvador, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Australia, China, Tibet, Peru, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and South Africa. Last year, he was a co-leader for a group in Costa Rica. His passions are Spanish, traveling the world, his dog Sebago, and playing guitar whenever he has time. Chamby is currently teaching Spanish at the Wilmington Friends School in Wilmington, Delaware, and is looking forward to another great summer in Costa Rica!

    • Elsie McIver
      Elsie McIver Program Leader

      Lewis & Clark College B.A. International Affairs and minors in Economics and Latin American Studies.

      While studying abroad her junior year in the Dominican Republic and Chile, Elsie was able to extensively explore Latin America while also completing an ESL course, tutoring local youth in English and honing her Spanish skills. Upon graduation, she spent three summers teaching English and leading daily excursions for European high school students studying in Oregon. Her desire to explore has since taken her around the world on various service and work projects including six months working on organic farms throughout Europe, leading a Habitat for Humanity trip to El Salvador, leading a senior troop to the Girl Scout world center in Mexico and two years as a Peace Corps volunteer with an indigenous community in Bocas del Toro, Panama. She has found that when one goes out into the world with an open mind and the intention of being of service, it creates the most wonderfully rich, meaningful, and eye-opening experiences. She currently works as an assistant in a Montessori classroom and will begin a teaching apprenticeship this Fall at the Arbor school in Portland, leading to a Masters degree in Teaching.

      • Zulia Daly
        Zulia Daly Airport Liaison

        University of Georgia – MMEd – Music Education
        Zuly Diaz, a first generation Cuban-American, has been an avid traveler and musician since an early age. After completing undergraduate work at Berry College, Zuly began working as a corporate travel agent and children’s theatre coach. This experience sparked the desire to work with students full time leading her to earn her master’s at UGA. Since 2009, Zuly has worked with low-income students to make music and create dramas. In addition to her work in the public school, she has volunteered as a teacher leader traveling with students from all over the world in student leadership experiences. Zuly has traveled herself to over two dozen countries. These travels have allowed her to experience once-in-a-lifetime opportunities including singing at Carnegie Hall.

        Group Roster

        Please have all travelers check below to ensure their name appears and is spelled correctly. For edits, email lacey@SmithsonianSA.com.

        1. Xavier Riley
        2. Kiara Buker
        3. Mia McKay
        4. Remy Stewart
        5. Yiwei Wang
        6. Spencer McKinley
        7. Jae LaBrec
        8. Bergen Batey
        9. Lily Chavkin
        10. Elliot Garwood
        11. Leah Fetting
        12. Nina Sklar
        13. Mengtong Zhang

        Community & Project Details

        This is where your host community information will appear, along with your community project, if applicable to your program.

        Communication & Blog

        The easiest way for students to keep in touch with family and friends at home while traveling will be using Wifi (available at most hotels and some restaurants) via Viber, Whatsapp, Skype, and Wechat for free.

        SSA tries to keep families and friends updated as frequently as possible with text and photo blogs. If parents would like updates regarding the group beyond these blog posts and email updates, they should direct all general inquiries to info@SmithsonianSA.com. We are always checking this email inbox and will respond promptly to inquiries. You can also reach us by dialing 303-242-8541 from the U.S.

        Here is the link to your blog: -Coming Soon-

        Packing List

        What follows is a sample packing list, which will be updated for each program. We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a roller, duffel bag, or backpack, as well as a smaller backpack that you can bring on hikes, weekend excursions and shorter activities.

        Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT and STUDENT ID.

        Costa Rica Packing List

        CLOTHES:

        6 pairs of underwear
        6 pairs of socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)
        4 t-shirts (some quick dry)
        2 long sleeve shirts
        1 sweater
        1 rain jacket
        2-3 pairs of travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
        2 pairs of comfortable/hiking/everyday pants (NOT all jeans)
        1 nice shirt/top to be worn to more formal dinners (girls might want a skirt or something a little nicer for such occasions, boys may want to opt for a polo shirt or button up shirt with jeans)
        1 pair of durable athletic/hiking shoes
        1 pair of sandals (Chaco/Teva/Merril sandals are great to have for water activities)
        1 pair of work gloves – required for service work
        1 hat

        TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:

        Sunscreen (you will use a lot)
        Mosquito repellent
        Band Aids and Neosporin
        Hand Sanitizer
        Medication in properly marked original container. It’s important that medication travel in its original container, as customs officials have the right to confiscate it otherwise.

        MISCELLANEOUS:

        Sunglasses
        Journal and pen
        Book
        Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
        Power Converter
        Alarm Clock and watch
        Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
        Durable water bottle
        1 quick-dry towel
        Flashlight/headlamp
        Batteries
        Deck of cards or other portable games
        Host family gift
        Spanish/English Dictionary

        HOMESTAY GIFTS

        Travelers often contact us regarding what an appropriate gift might be for their student’s host family. Host families are often curious about where our students come from and their families in the U.S. As such, we recommend a simple gift that describes, represents or depicts your home. Well-received gifts in the past have included calendars or picture/coffee table books from your city or state, a framed picture of your family, paraphernalia from a local sports team, toys, soccer balls, school supplies, or something produced or grown in your hometown, like chocolate, local candy, t-shirts, etc. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to worry about this…  Anything, no matter its value, will be well received!

         

        Tuition Details

        Tuition Includes:
        all accommodations, basic travel insurance, 3 meals per day, drinking water, ground transportation, group activity and entry fees, full time leadership team and taxes and tips.

        Tuition Excludes:
         International airfare, baggage fees, airline minor fees, personal shopping, passport or visa fees, and activities not listed on the itinerary.

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