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Active Immersion in Language & Culture

Costa Rica

Service, Outdoor Adventure, & Biodiversity

June 29 — July 21
$6,990 + airfare

Costa Rica

Service, Outdoor Adventure, & Biodiversity

June 29 — July 21
$6,990 + airfare

Travel abroad to a welcoming host community in Costa Rica and complete volunteer projects on this summer service program for middle school students. Work on projects such as painting a classroom, building a rainwater harvesting system, preparing a soccer field, or pouring a cement foundation for a communal water tank. Surf and snorkel along Pacific beaches, spot wildlife while ziplining in Monteverde, and stay at an ecolodge near the base of Arenal Volcano. *Middle School Costa Rica is a phone-free program.

• Complete collaborative service projects in a host community
• Join a game of pick-up soccer with Costa Rican friends
• Surf, snorkel, and kayak along gorgeous tropical beaches
• Glide above the rainforest canopy on a zipline adventure
“A very thoughtfully planned, unique program with just the right amount of adventure, service, and learning that fosters a great sense of community and nurtures new friendships.”
—Jenny & Robert L., Santa Monica, CA

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 middle school student travelers and a Putney flight escort in either Newark or Los Angeles and fly together to Liberia, Costa Rica. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Settling In — 2 days

Begin your adventure at our home base on the Pacific Coast, a villa located a short walk from the beautiful beach of Playa Hermosa. Together as a large group, get to know your leaders and fellow group members and have an in-depth orientation to become acquainted with Costa Rican culture. Then, split into three smaller groups for a more intimate, small group experience. Over the course of the program, each group will travel to our service project host community, stay on a farm in the cloud forest of Monteverde, and experience the villa, our base on the coast.

Playa Hermosa — 5 days

Visit the incredible sites of the Guanacaste region on adventurous day trips and participate in staff-led enrichment activities at our villa in Playa Hermosa. Surf with professional guides at beautiful Playa Grande, play games with your peers on sandy Playa Hermosa at low tide, and hike past boiling mud pots and sulfur springs at Rincón de la Vieja National Park. Practice your Spanish, snorkel in a nearby bay, visit the local farmer’s market, take a chocolate-making class, draw and paint, or take salsa lessons.

Monteverde Cloud Forest — 5 days

Stay in a cabin atop a hill overlooking Santa Elena, Monteverde, where your group will experience life on a working farm. Learn how a multi-generational family farm produces coffee and cares for livestock. Explore trails that wind through the property, taking you through one of the most biodiverse forests in Costa Rica. Visit the Monteverde Institute and engage in an ongoing reforestation project. Help the farm’s proprietor gather milk, eggs, and vegetables for a typical breakfast cooked al fresco.

Arenal Volcano — 3 days

Join together as a large group for three days at a sustainable ecolodge tucked into the forested valley at the base of Arenal Volcano. Participate in a hands-on workshop at the lodge and acquire a basic understanding of composting, cheesemaking, beekeeping, or gardening. Kayak on Lake Arenal, learn about chocolate and coffee production, or soak in thermal hot springs. The group then divides again into smaller subgroups and heads to their third location.

Host Community — 5 days

Spend five days in a small community tucked into the hills overlooking Lake Arenal. Get to know local residents as you work alongside them on small-scale construction projects. Spend time teaching English to the local children or try your hand at milking cows at the town dairy farm. Play soccer with new friends in the afternoons or relax together as a group. To learn more about our Service programs click here.

Return — Travel Day

Fly from Liberia, Costa Rica, to Newark or Los Angeles with a Putney flight escort, 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 middle school student travelers and a Putney flight escort in either Newark or Los Angeles and fly together to Liberia, Costa Rica. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Settling In — 2 days

Begin your adventure at our home base on the Pacific Coast, a villa located a short walk from the beautiful beach of Playa Hermosa. Together as a large group, get to know your leaders and fellow group members and have an in-depth orientation to become acquainted with Costa Rican culture. Then, split into three smaller groups for a more intimate, small group experience. Over the course of the program, each group will travel to our service project host community, stay on a farm in the cloud forest of Monteverde, and experience the villa, our base on the coast.

Playa Hermosa — 5 days

Visit the incredible sites of the Guanacaste region on adventurous day trips and participate in staff-led enrichment activities at our villa in Playa Hermosa. Surf with professional guides at beautiful Playa Grande, play games with your peers on sandy Playa Hermosa at low tide, and hike past boiling mud pots and sulfur springs at Rincón de la Vieja National Park. Practice your Spanish, snorkel in a nearby bay, visit the local farmer’s market, take a chocolate-making class, draw and paint, or take salsa lessons.

Monteverde Cloud Forest — 5 days

Stay in a cabin atop a hill overlooking Santa Elena, Monteverde, where your group will experience life on a working farm. Learn how a multi-generational family farm produces coffee and cares for livestock. Explore trails that wind through the property, taking you through one of the most biodiverse forests in Costa Rica. Visit the Monteverde Institute and engage in an ongoing reforestation project. Help the farm’s proprietor gather milk, eggs, and vegetables for a typical breakfast cooked al fresco.

Arenal Volcano — 3 days

Join together as a large group for three days at a sustainable ecolodge tucked into the forested valley at the base of Arenal Volcano. Participate in a hands-on workshop at the lodge and acquire a basic understanding of composting, cheesemaking, beekeeping, or gardening. Kayak on Lake Arenal, learn about chocolate and coffee production, or soak in thermal hot springs. The group then divides again into smaller subgroups and heads to their third location.

Host Community — 5 days

Spend five days in a small community tucked into the hills overlooking Lake Arenal. Get to know local residents as you work alongside them on small-scale construction projects. Spend time teaching English to the local children or try your hand at milking cows at the town dairy farm. Play soccer with new friends in the afternoons or relax together as a group. To learn more about our Service programs click here.

Return — Travel Day

Fly from Liberia, Costa Rica, to Newark or Los Angeles with a Putney flight escort, 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. 

ariana-agrios
Ariana Agrios
View Bio
cayo
Cayo Rosa
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. 

ariana-agrios
Ariana Agrios
View Bio
cayo
Cayo Rosa
View Bio
Loading...
About the Destination

In 1949, declaring itself a peaceful nation, Costa Rica disbanded its army and has since enjoyed seven decades of democracy and peace. Known for its astounding biodiversity, warm and inviting culture, and miles of tropical beaches, Costa Rica is a pioneer in innovative approaches to ecotourism. Although a small country, the nation boasts incredible geographic diversity—from tropical rainforest to pristine beaches to active volcanoes.

Language

Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica.

Climate

Costa Rica is a tropical country with two seasons: wet and dry. We visit during the wet season. It rains often in brief, heavy showers rather than all-day storms. In the host community, daytime temperatures range from 75–95°F, while nighttime temperatures drop between 60–70°F.

Cuisine

Costa Rican cuisine is hearty fare with rice, beans, and a delicious array of tropical fruits, such as papaya, mango, and pineapple, at almost every meal. A typical lunch consists of gallo pinto (rice and beans), fish or chicken, vegetables, cheese, tortillas, and fruit.

About the Destination

In 1949, declaring itself a peaceful nation, Costa Rica disbanded its army and has since enjoyed seven decades of democracy and peace. Known for its astounding biodiversity, warm and inviting culture, and miles of tropical beaches, Costa Rica is a pioneer in innovative approaches to ecotourism. Although a small country, the nation boasts incredible geographic diversity—from tropical rainforest to pristine beaches to active volcanoes.

Language

Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica.

Climate

Costa Rica is a tropical country with two seasons: wet and dry. We visit during the wet season. It rains often in brief, heavy showers rather than all-day storms. In the host community, daytime temperatures range from 75–95°F, while nighttime temperatures drop between 60–70°F.

Cuisine

Costa Rican cuisine is hearty fare with rice, beans, and a delicious array of tropical fruits, such as papaya, mango, and pineapple, at almost every meal. A typical lunch consists of gallo pinto (rice and beans), fish or chicken, vegetables, cheese, tortillas, and fruit.

What to Expect

Review specific program expectations here. For more general information:

Phone Use

This is a phone-free program. After arriving safely in Costa Rica, students will have the opportunity to check in with parents if they wish, and then leaders will help students lock their phones. Phones will remain locked for the duration of the program. Camera function will still be accessible, but all other functions will not. As are all Putney experiences, this is a highly structured program and the on-site director will be available by phone during daily office hours if parents need to communicate with staff or their student. The Putney Student Travel office can be reached 24/7. We believe that abstaining from social media and screen time helps cultivate healthy group dynamics and positively impacts the program as a whole. Our leaders and students keep a program blog where they post updates and photos of the group’s travels each week.

Service

During your time in Costa Rica, you can expect to participate in several different service experiences—light construction projects where you may learn to mix cement 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. This program is designed to provide the opportunity to learn about another culture by forming meaningful relationships with local people and undertaking a shared community 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. All students participate in each of the group’s projects on a rotating basis, and everyone lends a hand in meal preparation and cleanup. 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—learn to cook gallo pinto, interview local girls and women about gender roles in the community, or organize a community-wide soccer tournament.

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 the local language will have the opportunity to learn some basic language skills.

Physical Activity

This is a physically active summer program. Aside from community service projects, you can expect to participate in activities such as soccer, swimming, surfing, rafting, horseback riding, and hiking. 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

The Villa is a small, family-run hotel located just 100 meters from quiet Playa Hermosa. Rooms are doubles with air conditioning. There is a restaurant, a pool, a salón comunal (meeting room), and a basketball court on the Villa grounds. While in our host community, we live in a community center. Living conditions are basic but comfortable. We sleep in sleeping bags on sleeping pads on the floor. In Monteverde, we stay in comfortable cabins clustered together on a hillside with beds and hot water showers. Leaders reside with the group throughout the program.

Meals

While at the Villa, we eat meals at the adjoining restaurant and enjoy picnics by the pool and on the beach. During our stay in our host community, meals are prepared by local cooks. Students take turns helping to prepare our meals and form cooking and cleaning crews. Breakfast and lunch in Monteverde will be provided by a restaurant on the premises. Dinner will be enjoyed as a group in one of the many typical restaurants in town

What to Expect

Review specific program expectations here. For more general information:

Phone Use

This is a phone-free program. After arriving safely in Costa Rica, students will have the opportunity to check in with parents if they wish, and then leaders will help students lock their phones. Phones will remain locked for the duration of the program. Camera function will still be accessible, but all other functions will not. As are all Putney experiences, this is a highly structured program and the on-site director will be available by phone during daily office hours if parents need to communicate with staff or their student. The Putney Student Travel office can be reached 24/7. We believe that abstaining from social media and screen time helps cultivate healthy group dynamics and positively impacts the program as a whole. Our leaders and students keep a program blog where they post updates and photos of the group’s travels each week.

Service

During your time in Costa Rica, you can expect to participate in several different service experiences—light construction projects where you may learn to mix cement 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. This program is designed to provide the opportunity to learn about another culture by forming meaningful relationships with local people and undertaking a shared community 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. All students participate in each of the group’s projects on a rotating basis, and everyone lends a hand in meal preparation and cleanup. 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—learn to cook gallo pinto, interview local girls and women about gender roles in the community, or organize a community-wide soccer tournament.

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 the local language will have the opportunity to learn some basic language skills.

Physical Activity

This is a physically active summer program. Aside from community service projects, you can expect to participate in activities such as soccer, swimming, surfing, rafting, horseback riding, and hiking. 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

The Villa is a small, family-run hotel located just 100 meters from quiet Playa Hermosa. Rooms are doubles with air conditioning. There is a restaurant, a pool, a salón comunal (meeting room), and a basketball court on the Villa grounds. While in our host community, we live in a community center. Living conditions are basic but comfortable. We sleep in sleeping bags on sleeping pads on the floor. In Monteverde, we stay in comfortable cabins clustered together on a hillside with beds and hot water showers. Leaders reside with the group throughout the program.

Meals

While at the Villa, we eat meals at the adjoining restaurant and enjoy picnics by the pool and on the beach. During our stay in our host community, meals are prepared by local cooks. Students take turns helping to prepare our meals and form cooking and cleaning crews. Breakfast and lunch in Monteverde will be provided by a restaurant on the premises. Dinner will be enjoyed as a group in one of the many typical restaurants in town

A Day in the Life: Playa Hermosa

Due to the traveling nature of this summer program abroad, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day at our villa in Playa Hermosa.
8:00am
Enjoy breakfast at the Villa restaurant together as a group
9:00am
Take a day trip to Playa Grande for a surf lesson with professional guides
12:00pm
Break for lunch at a beachside restaurant
2:00pm
Learn about leatherback sea turtles and nesting sites from a conservationist
4:00pm
Take a short hike to swim beneath a waterfall
6:00pm
Share dinner at the Villa with your group
8:00pm
Have a game night incorporating Costa Rican culture
9:00pm
Group meeting to discuss the day and upcoming schedule

A Day in the Life:
Playa Hermosa

Due to the traveling nature of this summer program abroad, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day at our villa in Playa Hermosa.
8:00am
Enjoy breakfast at the Villa restaurant together as a group
9:00am
Take a day trip to Playa Grande for a surf lesson with professional guides
12:00pm
Break for lunch at a beachside restaurant
2:00pm
Learn about leatherback sea turtles and nesting sites from a conservationist
4:00pm
Take a short hike to swim beneath a waterfall
6:00pm
Share dinner at the Villa with your group
8:00pm
Have a game night incorporating Costa Rican culture
9:00pm
Group meeting to discuss the day and upcoming schedule
“I had fun and learned about a culture, language, and lifestyle I wasn’t familiar with before!”
—— Camille N., San Domenico School, San Francisco, CA
andrew-manzella

This Program is Directed by

Andrew Manzella

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

andrew-manzella

This Program is Directed by

Andrew Manzella

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

Costa Rica
Service, Outdoor Adventure, & Biodiversity

2024 Dates
June 29 — July 21

Duration
23 days

Tuition
$6,990 + airfare

Eligibility
Currently* in grades 6–8
*Your grade as of the day you apply

Typical Group
35–50 students, 7–9 leaders

Group Flight
Departs from Newark or Los Angeles (2 options)

Service Hours
35–40 

Additional Info

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

 

2024 Dates
June 29 — July 21

Duration
23 days

Tuition
$6,990 + airfare

Service Hours
35–40 

Eligibility
Currently* in grades 6–8
*Your grade as of the day you apply

Typical Group
35–50 students, 7–9 leaders

Group Flight
Departs from Newark or Los Angeles (2 options)

 

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

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