Costa Rica | Community Service

Village Immersion, Cloud Forests, & Tropical Beaches

Live and volunteer in a rural Costa Rican village and work side-by-side with local people on meaningful community service projects. Wake each morning to the sounds of howler monkeys and exotic birds and spend your day helping build a community center or classroom, teaching English, or running a summer camp for local kids.

  • June 24, 2018  –  July 8, 2018
  • June 26, 2018  –  July 19, 2018
  • July 1, 2018  –  July 31, 2018
  • July 9, 2018  –  July 23, 2018
  • July 16, 2018  –  July 30, 2018
At A Glance:
  • Adventure
    Outdoor exploration, hiking, biking, swimming, and other active pursuits
  • Beach
    Stay on the ocean with time to swim, surf, boat, or snorkel
  • Service
    Focus on community-based projects in collaboration with a partner village
Completing grades 9 – 12
US Gateway City:
Community Service
  • 15 days (June 24 – July 8)
  • 24 days (June 26 – July 19)
  • 31 days (July 1 – July 31)
  • 15 days (July 9 – July 23)
  • 15 days (July 16 – July 30)
Typical Group:
15 – 17 students, 2 leaders
  • $3,990 + airfare (June 24 - July 8)
  • $4,990 + airfare (June 26 - July 19)
  • $5,990 + airfare (July 1 - July 31)
  • $3,990 + airfare (July 9 - July 23)
  • $3,990 + airfare (July 16 - July 30)


  • Lay bricks for a community center or classroom alongside Tico friends
  • Practice your Spanish as you help local women prepare daily meals
  • Play an afternoon game of fútbol with children from the village
  • Trek through the cloud forest in search of monkeys and sloths

Leader Profile: JARED OUBRE

Education: Williams College, B.A., English, Harvard Divinity School, M.T.S. (Master’s in Theological Studies)

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Jared wanted to see more of the world, so he headed to the East Coast for college. While… read more

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Jared wanted to see more of the world, so he headed to the East Coast for college. While at Williams College, he developed an interest in traveling. He first studied abroad his sophomore year, venturing to Panama for a semester with the School of International Training in a program titled “Conservation and Development.” The next summer his thirst to better understand educational disparities around the world led him to Peru and soon after to Nicaragua, where social justice issues opened his eyes to the great privileges he was afforded by holding a U.S. passport. After four years of liberal arts exploration, Jared entered the Peace Corps and served as an environmental educator in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. The Dominican people welcomed him with great hospitality and shared with him the education of “Grit,” learning to be happy with few material possessions. After his unique experience living abroad Jared attended Harvard Divinity School where he focused on the study of world religions and Latino social justice issues. He now serves as the director of the after school program, Project Dream, in the highest altitude school district in the country in Leadville, Colorado. He has the opportunity to speak Spanish on a daily basis during his work with a bright and underserved population of Latino high school students. In his free time Jared loves to run with his dog “Corazón,” sing in a community choir, and cook Mexican meals with his wife Emily.He hsa led Community Service Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.  


Departure • Travel Day • Meet your fellow students and one or more of your leaders in Miami, and fly together to San José or Liberia, Costa Rica. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

San José or Pacific Coast • 2 days • Spend your first two nights in either San José, the capital city of Costa Rica, or in a small beachside community on the Pacific coast. Learn about Costa Rica’s history, language, and culture, and get to know your group. Participate in an in-depth orientation, and prepare for your stay in your host village.

Students swim in hidden waterfalls in the rainforest on our community service program on Costa Rica

Host Village • Varies • Travel inland to your host village, a small community tucked away in the lush and fertile cloud forest region of Costa Rica. Immerse yourself in everyday life as you work with warm and welcoming Costa Rican people to undertake several community-initiated volunteer projects. Lend a hand laying the foundation for a community center, teach English to local children and adults, or shadow a farmer to learn how to milk a cow or harvest bananas and pineapple. After a day’s work, spend late afternoons and evenings relaxing with Tico friends, hiking to a hidden swimming hole, learning new songs on the guitar, playing games of fútbol in the town plaza, or attending local fiestas. Putney groups live and partner with different host villages and do not meet during the program.

Rainforest & Beach Excursions • Varies • Take weekend excursions to explore Costa Rica’s stunning landscapes and astounding biodiversity. Hike to remote waterfalls, interview local wildlife experts, zip-line through the rainforest canopy, and scout for howler monkeys and sloths. Take a surfing lesson on Costa Rica’s world-renowned waves or ride horseback along the coastline. In the evening, go salsa dancing, take a night hike under the stars, or play guitar around a beach bonfire.

Whitewater Rafting • 2 days • Return to San José or travel to Arenal Volcano for the final days of your community service program. Spend a day whitewater rafting with professional guides through the Rio Corobici or Rio Pacuare, surrounded by breathtaking, lush rainforest.

Return • Travel Day • Fly from San José or Liberia, Costa Rica to Miami with your group and a leader, then continue on to your final destination. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule.  However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.

I can’t begin to explain everything I have gained from this program, but two of the most important things were gaining a new family of absolutely incredible people and realizing that you can make a difference if you set your mind to it.

— Catherine K., The Dalton School, Brooklyn, NY

A Day in the Life: HOST VILLAGE

Due to the traveling nature of this program, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day in your host village.

7 AM • Prepare breakfast with women from the community
8 AM • Work in small groups to lay the foundation for a community center
12 PM • Eat a homemade lunch and relax
2 PM • Photograph and interview locals for your independent project
4 PM • Play a game of pick-up fútbol with Costa Rican friends
6 PM • Dinner
8 PM • 
Group Meeting to discuss the day, followed by salsa dancing lessons

A construction project on our community service program in Costa Rica

What to Expect

Community Service • The focus of this program is learning about another culture by forming meaningful relationships with local people and undertaking a shared service experience together. You should come to the summer with an open-mind, eager to participate in new experiences and interested in exploring another culture and way of life. During your time in Costa Rica, you can expect to work on several different volunteer projects — light construction projects where you may learn to mix cement and lay blocks or paint a community building, environmental projects such as planting seedlings or shadowing local farmers, and educational projects such as teaching English to local children and adults. Everyone participates in all of the group’s projects on a rotating basis, and lends a hand in meal preparation and cleanup. Students can expect to complete 30 – 50 hours of community service work during the 15-day Costa Rica program, 60 – 80 hours during the 24-day program, and 80 – 100 hours during the 31-day program. To learn more about our Community Service programs, click here.

Language Practice • Proficiency in Spanish is not required, however students who study Spanish in school will have opportunities to practice while communicating with local people. Students who do not speak Spanish will have the opportunity to learn some basic language skills.

Independent Project • In addition to group projects, pursue an independent project and explore an aspect of local culture of particular interest to you—learn to cook gallo pinto, interview local girls and women about gender roles in the community, or organize a community-wide soccer tournament.

Physical Activity • This is a physically active program. The volunteer work and afternoon activities can be strenuous, and you can expect to spend most of each day outside;  playing with local children, surfing, horseback riding, and swimming. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about trying all activities.

Accommodations • Living accommodations in the host village are very simple. We live together as a group in a community building or school. We sleep on camping pads and share simple bathrooms and showers. During excursions, we stay in simple but comfortable eco-lodges, bungalows, or family-run inns and sleep in beds. Leaders reside together with the students throughout the program.

Meals • In the host village we eat delicious, home-cooked meals prepared by local cooks. Each day several students from the group form cooking and cleaning crews and help the cooks prepare meals, Tico style. During excursions, we eat most meals in restaurants and occasionally visit local markets to shop for picnic lunches.

His greatest sense of accomplishment was the interaction and friendships he built with the village children and the other teens on the program. He made deep connections with the Costa Ricans over the course of just 3 weeks.

Mindy and Barry Malkin, Chicago, IL

Ask Us

Call Ryanne at 802.387.5000 or email

The Community Service Costa Rica program is directed by Ryanne Fujita-Conrads. If you have questions, are interested in receiving more detailed information, or would like to talk further about any of our summer student travel programs, please get in touch!

Ryanne Fujita-Conrads

Reed College, B.A., Sociology

While at Reed College, Ryanne’s love for international travel, education, and exploration began with a summer volunteering in a small Ecuadorian community in the Andes. Before joining the Putney team, Ryanne studied in Barcelona, Spain; worked for an education nonprofit in Mexico; traveled in Patagonia; and lived for a year in rural Thailand. Ryanne has led Putney’s Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Barcelona programs. She is part of the Outreach team and organizes programs in Central and South America. Ryanne enjoys riding her bike, running, hiking, baking, discovering new places, and eating delicious food.