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Hawai’i

Environmental Service & Hawaiian Culture on the Big Island

July 6 — July 18
$6,390 + airfare

Hawai’i

Environmental Service & Hawaiian Culture on the Big Island

July 6 — July 18
$6,390 + airfare

With its incredible landscapes, biodiversity, and rich cultural heritage, Hawai’i’s Big Island is the perfect paradise. This summer, experience the island’s remarkable ecosystems up close through hands-on learning activities and land-based service work with local organizations. Engage with Hawaiian culture through hula lessons and learning how ancient Hawaiians used the constellations to navigate, lend a hand to various conservation-focused service projects, and get up close and personal with marine life during snorkeling, surfing, and kayaking excursions.

• Explore waterfalls and valleys of the Big Island’s east coast
• Work alongside Hawaiians to restore plant habitats
• Surf, snorkel, and kayak in Hawai’i’s rich coastal waters
• Witness lava flows and steam vents in Volcanoes National Park
“I really liked the snorkeling with manta rays! They were so close to us and because it was in the night all of plankton lit up.”
—Olivia D., St. Anne’s Episcopal School, Denver, CO

Itinerary

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

Departure — Travel Day

Meet your fellow student travelers and one or more of your leaders in Los Angeles, California, and fly together to Kona, Hawai'i. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Waimea — 4 days

From the airport, head northeast to Waimea, the home of Paniolos, cattle ranches, and rolling grasslands. Get to know your group and participate in an in-depth orientation on your time in Hawai’i. Partner with a local nonprofit organization dedicated to understanding and preserving ancient Hawaiian agricultural practices, and educating students about sustainability. Help plant and harvest native crops, clear invasive species, and learn about Hawai’i’s many ecosystems and climate zones. Spend a day on a local farm learning about traditional Hawaiian medicinal plants and food. In the afternoons, head to the beach for a swim or venture out for a trek in the forest.

Hilo — 4 days

Travel to the lush eastern coast, where countless waterfalls and deep rainforests await, providing contrast to the semi-arid environment of South Point. Peer into Kilauea Caldera, the most active and researched volcano in the world, or hike down into Kilauea Iki crater at Volcanoes National Park. Learn how ancient Hawai'ians navigated by the stars, visit the world-famous Hilo Farmers’ Market, and trek to waterfalls and peaceful beaches with your group. Join local organizations to work on service projects restoring critical habitats and native species that have lost ground to industrial farming and invasive plants.

South Point — 3 days

Settle into your Japanese-inspired accommodations nestled among the macadamia nut trees of an active pick-your-own orchard in Naalehu, near South Point. Peer over dramatic cliffs at Ka Lae, the southernmost point in the United States, and visit one of four olivine sand beaches in the world, Papakōlea. Explore thousand-year-old lava caves and tube systems once used by Hawaiians for water collection, or head to Punalu’u Beach to spot honu, or sea turtles, in their natural habitat. End your program with a magical evening snorkel with manta rays, the ocean’s gentle giants, on the Kona coast.

Return — Travel Day

Fly from Kona to Los Angeles with your group and a leader, then continue on to your final destination. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Itinerary

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

Departure — Travel Day

Meet your fellow student travelers and one or more of your leaders in Los Angeles, California, and fly together to Kona, Hawai'i. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Waimea — 4 days

From the airport, head northeast to Waimea, the home of Paniolos, cattle ranches, and rolling grasslands. Get to know your group and participate in an in-depth orientation on your time in Hawai’i. Partner with a local nonprofit organization dedicated to understanding and preserving ancient Hawaiian agricultural practices, and educating students about sustainability. Help plant and harvest native crops, clear invasive species, and learn about Hawai’i’s many ecosystems and climate zones. Spend a day on a local farm learning about traditional Hawaiian medicinal plants and food. In the afternoons, head to the beach for a swim or venture out for a trek in the forest.

Hilo — 4 days

Travel to the lush eastern coast, where countless waterfalls and deep rainforests await, providing contrast to the semi-arid environment of South Point. Peer into Kilauea Caldera, the most active and researched volcano in the world, or hike down into Kilauea Iki crater at Volcanoes National Park. Learn how ancient Hawai'ians navigated by the stars, visit the world-famous Hilo Farmers’ Market, and trek to waterfalls and peaceful beaches with your group. Join local organizations to work on service projects restoring critical habitats and native species that have lost ground to industrial farming and invasive plants.

South Point — 3 days

Settle into your Japanese-inspired accommodations nestled among the macadamia nut trees of an active pick-your-own orchard in Naalehu, near South Point. Peer over dramatic cliffs at Ka Lae, the southernmost point in the United States, and visit one of four olivine sand beaches in the world, Papakōlea. Explore thousand-year-old lava caves and tube systems once used by Hawaiians for water collection, or head to Punalu’u Beach to spot honu, or sea turtles, in their natural habitat. End your program with a magical evening snorkel with manta rays, the ocean’s gentle giants, on the Kona coast.

Return — Travel Day

Fly from Kona to Los Angeles with your group and a leader, then continue on to your final destination. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Featured

Leaders

Meet some of our featured leaders. Please note that these may not be your leaders for the program. 

2023_msxhi_keeley-mennie
Keeley Mennie
View Bio
2023_msxhi_msxiceb_terry-williams
Terry Williams
View Bio
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Featured

Leaders

Meet some of our featured leaders. Please note that these may not be your leaders for the program. 

2023_msxhi_keeley-mennie
Keeley Mennie
View Bio
2023_msxhi_msxiceb_terry-williams
Terry Williams
View Bio
Loading...
About the Destination

Hawai'i is the birthplace of surfing, hula, and the ukulele, among countless other contributions to global culture. The most remote island chain on Earth, these islands were first settled by Polynesian explorers 1,500 years ago; since then, many waves of immigration have followed. The islands were annexed by the U.S. in 1898, against the will of Native Hawaiians, who proudly maintain their cultural traditions and language to this day. From coral reefs and fresh lava flows, to snowcapped volcanic peaks, the landscape offers incredible variety and endless opportunities for exploration.

Language

English is the official language of Hawai'i, though most of our service partners and contacts are Native Hawaiian and proudly speak Hawaiian. You will have an opportunity to learn phrases and practice the Hawaiian language throughout the program.

Climate

Hawai'i is home to the majority of the climatic zones found on Earth, from tropical rainforests to alpine tundra. Expect temperatures ranging from approximately 85°F/30°C to 65°F/18°C. At high elevations, the temperature can dip to as low as 50°F/10°C. Prepare for some windy days on the south side of the island, and some wet days on the east coast.

Cuisine

Hawaiian food contains a fusion of native crops and cooking techniques brought by the earliest Polynesian settlers, as well as Portuguese, American, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean immigrants. Expect to try local staples like taro and passionfruit alongside modern dishes like poke and spam musubi.

About the Destination

Hawai'i is the birthplace of surfing, hula, and the ukulele, among countless other contributions to global culture. The most remote island chain on Earth, these islands were first settled by Polynesian explorers 1,500 years ago; since then, many waves of immigration have followed. The islands were annexed by the U.S. in 1898, against the will of Native Hawaiians, who proudly maintain their cultural traditions and language to this day. From coral reefs and fresh lava flows, to snowcapped volcanic peaks, the landscape offers incredible variety and endless opportunities for exploration.

Language

English is the official language of Hawai'i, though most of our service partners and contacts are Native Hawaiian and proudly speak Hawaiian. You will have an opportunity to learn phrases and practice the Hawaiian language throughout the program.

Climate

Hawai'i is home to the majority of the climatic zones found on Earth, from tropical rainforests to alpine tundra. Expect temperatures ranging from approximately 85°F/30°C to 65°F/18°C. At high elevations, the temperature can dip to as low as 50°F/10°C. Prepare for some windy days on the south side of the island, and some wet days on the east coast.

Cuisine

Hawaiian food contains a fusion of native crops and cooking techniques brought by the earliest Polynesian settlers, as well as Portuguese, American, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean immigrants. Expect to try local staples like taro and passionfruit alongside modern dishes like poke and spam musubi.

What to Expect

Review specific program expectations here. For more general information:

Service

During your time in Hawai'i, you can expect to work for approximately 5-10 hours on restoration-related projects. To learn more about our Service programs click here.

Independent Project

Pursue an independent project and explore an aspect of local culture of particular interest to you—become an expert on sea turtles, teach the group Hawaiian phrases, or interview one of our service partners, for example.

Physical Activity

This is a moderately active summer travel program, and almost all of your time will be spent outside. 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.

Altitude

Depending on weather conditions, this program may visit one high-altitude destination—Mauna Kea, which reaches an elevation of 9,000 feet.

Accommodations

In South Point, we reside in a large Japanese-style house located near the base of Volcanoes National Park. In Hilo, we stay at a comfortable seaside hotel with two to three students per room. In Kona, we stay at a family-owned hostel where students will stay in either four, six, or eight-bed dorms according to gender. Students have access to common and outdoor spaces at all of our accommodations for community meetings, working on projects, socializing, etc. Leaders reside with students throughout the program.

Meals

We make and pack our own lunches on most days during the program, and often enjoy breakfast and dinner in small Hawaiian establishments.

What to Expect

Review specific program expectations here. For more general information:

Service

During your time in Hawai'i, you can expect to work for approximately 5-10 hours on restoration-related projects. To learn more about our Service programs click here.

Independent Project

Pursue an independent project and explore an aspect of local culture of particular interest to you—become an expert on sea turtles, teach the group Hawaiian phrases, or interview one of our service partners, for example.

Physical Activity

This is a moderately active summer travel program, and almost all of your time will be spent outside. 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.

Altitude

Depending on weather conditions, this program may visit one high-altitude destination—Mauna Kea, which reaches an elevation of 9,000 feet.

Accommodations

In South Point, we reside in a large Japanese-style house located near the base of Volcanoes National Park. In Hilo, we stay at a comfortable seaside hotel with two to three students per room. In Kona, we stay at a family-owned hostel where students will stay in either four, six, or eight-bed dorms according to gender. Students have access to common and outdoor spaces at all of our accommodations for community meetings, working on projects, socializing, etc. Leaders reside with students throughout the program.

Meals

We make and pack our own lunches on most days during the program, and often enjoy breakfast and dinner in small Hawaiian establishments.

A Day in the Life: Hilo

Due to the traveling nature of this summer program abroad, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day in Hilo.
8:00am
Enjoy breakfast with your group
9:00am
Start your service work on a local farm
12:00pm
Break for a picnic lunch
1:00pm
Head down the road to a beautiful beach or trek to a waterfall
4:00pm
Participate in a hula or ukulele lesson with local Hawaiians
6:00pm
Have a group dinner in town
8:00pm
Group meeting to discuss the day’s work and learning

A Day in the Life:
Hilo

Due to the traveling nature of this summer program abroad, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day in Hilo.
8:00am
Enjoy breakfast with your group
9:00am
Start your service work on a local farm
12:00pm
Break for a picnic lunch
1:00pm
Head down the road to a beautiful beach or trek to a waterfall
4:00pm
Participate in a hula or ukulele lesson with local Hawaiians
6:00pm
Have a group dinner in town
8:00pm
Group meeting to discuss the day’s work and learning
“We would recommend the Putney program to anyone looking for a positive leadership/service experience for their child.”
—Jennifer L., Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ
portia-watson

This Program is Directed by

Portia Watson

If you have questions or would like to talk further about this program, please get in touch!

portia-watson

This Program is Directed by

Portia Watson

If you have questions or would like to talk further about this program, please get in touch!

Enroll in two programs & save $1,000!

$800 tuition discount + no application fee

Hawai’i
Environmental Service & Hawaiian Culture on the Big Island

2024 Dates
July 6 — July 18

Duration
13 days

Tuition
$6,390 + airfare

Eligibility
Currently* in grades 7–8
*Your grade as of the day you apply

Typical Group
14–16 students, 3 leaders

Group Flight
Departs from Los Angeles

Service Hours
10–15 

Additional Info

Questions? Visit our FAQ or call us at (802) 387-5000

 

2024 Dates
July 6 — July 18

Duration
13 days

Tuition
$6,390 + airfare

Service Hours
10–15 

Eligibility
Currently* in grades 7–8
*Your grade as of the day you apply

Typical Group
14–16 students, 3 leaders

Group Flight
Departs from Los Angeles

 

Questions? Visit our FAQ or call us at (802) 387-5000

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