2019 Costa Rica 15 Day Service Adventure

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2019 Costa Rica 15 Day Service Adventure! We have created two webpages dedicated to this exciting program so that travelers are as informed as possible throughout the process. The first page, Pre-Enrollment, is meant to share exciting details, highlights and pertinent info that participants will want to know before enrolling. Once enrolled, the Post-Enrollment page, is meant to prepare travelers for participation on the adventure ahead. Please be sure to review the information on the appropriate page thoroughly and we can't wait to start our enriching adventure!
Travel Dates: June 26, 2019 - July 10, 2019
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $3,590 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Estimated Airfare: $700

What to Expect

Please read through all of the information below. More details will be added as your departure draws closer.

Itinerary

We do everything possible to abide by  itineraries as originally planned, but decades of experience teachers that we must flexible in our planning. Changes to a trip’s schedule are uncommon, but Walking Tree reserves the right to make adjustments to programming in the best interest of the group. 

DateLocationDescriptionLodging
June 26USA - 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. Rosa de America
June 27San Jose - Rama OrganicaAfter breakfast we will head to Rama Organinca, an ecological farm in the heart of the rain forest, about 4 hours south of the capital city. Upon arrival we will tour the farm for an introduction to the bountiful flora and fauna in the area.Jungalows
June 28Rama OrganicaAfter breakfast we will hike down to Nauyaca waterfall, one of the most beautiful in the entire country. We will spend the morning swimming and relaxing by the riverside and enjoy lunch at the waterfall. After , we will visit a nearby coffee plantation and enjoy a delicious empanada made by yourself. Throughout the program, we'll have the opportunity to interact with community members in Spanish, participate in cultural exchanges, and explore Costa Rican culture. We will be returning to the farm, and will have free time before dinner.Jungalows
June 29Rama Organica - San GerardoToday we will head to the host village to meet our host families. Upon arrival, students will tour the community and learn about our service project. Students will have dinner with their own individual host families this evening. Host Family
June 30San GerardoOur days in the village will consist mainly of working on our community service project. Lunch will be either be on-site or at home with families. In the afternoons and evenings, activities are flexible and will vary, but may include time with host families, excursions around the village, or activities with the local community.Host Family
July 1San GerardoToday, we will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families. Evening activities will vary between soccer matches or mejengas, trout fishing, hiking thorugh the forest, visiting the hotsprings, cooking lessons or checking the local waterfall.Host Family
July 2San GerardoToday, we will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families. Evening activities will vary.Host Family
July 3San GerardoToday, we will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families. Evening activities will vary.Host Family
July 4San GerardoToday, we will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families. Evening activities will vary.Host Family
July 5San GerardoToday, we will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families. Evening activities will vary.Host Family
July 6San GerardoToday, we will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families. Evening activities will vary.Host Family
July 7San GerardoToday we will finish our service project and celebrate with our new friends and family with a fiesta de despedida!Host Family
July 8San Gerardo - Manuel AntonioAfter breakfast and goodbyes, we willl 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.Villas Mymosa
July 9Manuel 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 willl make the drive back to San Jose for a farewell dinner before our international departure the following morning.Casa Cielo Grande
July 10San Jose - USAAfter breakfast, we will head to the airport for a morning departure back to the USA. Your own bed!

Fundraising

Need to Raise Money? We Have You Covered.

Walking Tree Travel is proud to team up with Equal Exchange, a worker-owned cooperative that distributes organic coffee, tea, sugar, bananas, avocados, cocoa, chocolate bars, and more.  There is no limit to the amount you can earn, so the sooner you can start, the better!

Learn more here.

WTT coffee

Accommodations

In order to provide a safe and memorable experience, we follow strict guidelines when choosing group accommodations. Walking Tree partners with hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, locally operated, clean and safe.  We inspect each partner hotel to ensure they meet these standards.

Below are the accommodations we anticipate using on your program, subject to availability. 
Rosa de las Américas

A charming ranch-style hotel on the outskirts of San José, Rosa de  las Americas is a great spot to unwind after a long day’s travels. This hotel is complete with a lush gardens, a big pool, updated rooms, and friendly staff.

Homestay

This will be the best part of your trip! Staying with a host family immerses you in the language and culture of the destination, and can lead to deep and lasting relationships with your hosts. Initially intimidating but ultimately unforgettable, there’s no better way to begin to truly understand the place you’re visiting.

Villas Aracari

Villas Aracari is a beautiful property ideally located just twenty minutes from the airport. Close to the city center yet perched high in the mountains, the views of the Central Valley are breathtaking and the new pool is a delightful respite after a hot day. Spotless rooms and friendly staff will make you feel at home the moment you drop your bags.

Villas Mymosa

Hotel Villas Mymosa is a modern 10 room condo hotel located in the peaceful setting of beautiful Manuel Antonio.  These spacious rooms are fully equipped to provide you with all the amenities of your own home.  Each Villas Mymosa villa has a private terrace or balcony or both.  You have the option of peace and quiet at your villa or interacting with other guests around our beautiful large centrally located pool.

Group Flight

Once your flight schedule has been confirmed, the itinerary will appear here.

Walking Tree will secure a seat on the group flight for each participant unless otherwise instructed.

Travelers are responsible for checked baggage fees. Please visit the airline’s baggage webpage to learn if you should expect to pay anything.

We will provide a group manifest – complete with reservation codes and ticket numbers – to the Group Organizer/s before departure, and travelers will need to check in at the airport in order to receive their boarding pass and have documents verified. We recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure, but contact your Group Organizer for specific details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure.

FLIGHT INTERRUPTION, DELAY OR CANCELLATION 
Air travel can be unpredictable.  Regardless of proper planning, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to staffing shortages, weather, mechanical problems, etc.  Please note that in such an event, Walking Tree Travel (WTT) is not financially responsible for unanticipated costs incurred by travelers en route.  Our programs officially begin and end in the destination country, and because our staff doesn’t fly with the group, Group Organizers (the traveling faculty member/s) become the front-line advocate for the group in the event of a delay. In most cases of cancellations or delays, the airline will be the one who re-books travel or possibly arranges a hotel and food the night.  Our primary role will be to  keep families updated and provide support to the Group Organizer to reach a  quick and effective resolution.

Host Community and Project Details

Walking Tree’s approach to service is a collaborative one.  Staff and community leaders deliberate on project options before jointly deciding how best to use the resources available. Groups will typically complete ~6 hrs of service a day, broken up by a mid-day meal on site.

Generally, the project work entails renovating or replacing existing community infrastructure such as a health clinic, church, or school. Program leaders will work to develop additional opportunities such as interactive time with local school children; picture everyone playing a raucous game of ‘Simón dice’!

Specific details about your work will be available in the lead up to departure.

 

 

Packing List

What follows is a sample packing list that is provided as a guideline. Feel free to augment as you feel necessary.  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.

“Less is more” is a packing tip we encourage for all our travelers. The list below should cover everything you would need, but know yourself and what you are comfortable traveling with.  We suggest bringing only as much as you would be able to carry on your own.

Finally, we recommend consulting a weather forecast for your destination. 

CLOTHES (quantities depend on your trip length) :

  • Underwear
  • Socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)
  • T-shirts (some quick dry)
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Lightweight sweater for nights in the  community
  • Rain jacket or poncho
  • Travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
  • 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)
  • Durable athletic/hiking shoes with good grip
  • Sandals (Chaco/Teva/Keen/Merrel sandals are great to have for water activities)
  • Work gloves – required for service work
  • Bandana for work site (optional)
  • A hat that can protect your neck
  • Swimming suit/s

TOILETRIES

  • In addition to the basics…
  • Sunscreen (You will use a lot. Natural products/lotions are preferred over aerosol, especially for the beach)
  • Mosquito repellent (non-deet/lotions are preferred to reduce environmental impact)
  • Basic first aid supplies
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Medication in properly marked original container. It’s important that medication travel in its original container

MISCELLANEOUS

  • Sunglasses
  • Journal and pen
  • Book/s
  • Camera
  • Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on number of desired snacks, souvenirs, extra items etc.)
  • Durable water bottle
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Flashlight/headlamp
  • Batteries
  • Deck of cards or other portable games
  • Host family gift

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!

Support Team

At a minimum, one experienced Program Leader will travel on every trip. In addition to this full time leadership presence, Walking Tree has additional staff in all destinations and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Below you’ll find the the team members involved in the preparation, planning and execution of your program.

Sara Lavell
Sara Lavell
Program Leader


Universidad de Costa Rica – B.Sc. Geography

Proudly born a ”tica” with a British father and a Panamanian mother, Sara was raised in the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Sara started traveling the world at a young age and has visited 4 continents. Passionate about conservation, sustainable development and education Sara spent her college years volunteering in different communities during mid-term vacations and later found herself sharing some of her interests with US students and volunteers traveling all over Central America. Nowadays, Sara is finishing her master’s degree in Planning with an emphasis on Socioeconomic Project Management.

Lacey Merkel
Lacey Merkel
Admissions Director - Denver, CO


University of Arizona – B.S. in Spanish and Portuguese, Minor in Business

Lacey is originally from Flagstaff, Arizona but has been spending her summers in Denver since she was a kid. Originally a business major, she decided to spend her sophomore year studying in Viña Del Mar, Chile. This is where she truly found her passion for travel and learning about other cultures. When she returned to Arizona, she changed her focus to learning Spanish and Portuguese and decided to pursue her TEFL certificate. After graduation, Lacey moved to Fortaleza, Brazil and taught English to high school students, pilots and doctors. She then moved to Denver and continued teaching English. In her free time she enjoys live music, snowboarding, traveling and of course eating amazing “hole-in-the-wall” food.

Sofía Quirós
Sofía Quirós
Program Leader


Universidad de Costa Rica – B.A. in Art History 

New York University – M.A. in Art Education  

Growing up in Costa Rica, Sofía developed an early passion for nature and the outdoors. She originally wanted to be a biologist but ended up going into the arts instead, specializing in Art Education in New York City where she lived and worked for over eight years. Having mostly worked in non-formal education settings like museums and community spaces, her work focuses on generating transformative learning experiences beyond subjects or settings.

She is passionate about critical pedagogy, community development, multicultural perspectives, and conservation efforts. She has traveled extensively (over 25 countries in 3 continents) believing that there’s nothing like traveling to expand your mindset and allow for growth and connection to new spaces, people, cultures and oneself. She currently lives in San José, Costa Rica, and among her favorite things to do are hiking, whale watching (when possible), eating delicious food, dancing and enjoying quality time with friends and family.

Emiliano Rodriguez-Warner
Emiliano Rodriguez-Warner
Program Leader


Fort Lewis College- B.A. in Adventure Education

Emiliano first really got the bug for traveling when he first moved down to Nicaragua when he was 10 to get to know his father’s side of the family. Since then he has gone to college in Northern California and Southwestern Colorado to end up with degree in Adventure Education. While getting his degree Emiliano built a very strong philosophy based on learning and building skills through stepping out of our comfort zones and he still lives by that today.  The best part of his leading his first walking tree trip was when we swam with a sea turtle in Belize in 2018. During the offseason Emiliano teaches 2nd grade to Spanish speaking students in Denver, Colorado  and he loves to toss frisbees on his down time. 

Group Roster

Below is a list of the travelers enrolled on the program.

  • 1 Ellen Han
  • 2 Emilie Chau
  • 3 Jackson Darre
  • 4 Kaelen Moehs
  • 5 Louis Salfi
5 Travelers

Blog and Communication

During travel we work hard to keep families updated as frequently as possible with blog posts and photos, giving you peace of mind that your traveler is safe and thriving on their program.  Students regularly contribute to these posts, providing families bak home a great way to vicariously track the progress of the trip. You will be notified when the first update is posted, after which we recommend checking in regularly via the black “Program Blog” button at the top of this webpage.

Assuming your school allows the use of cell phones, most destinations are wired enough to allow participants access WiFi at different moments in the program, allowing them to communicate directly with home. Ask your Walking Tree representative about the degree of connectivity on your program.

 

GLC Curriculum

Walking Tree has developed a curriculum of activities meant to help travelers get the most out of their trip before departure, during travel and after they return home. These simple and engaging activities are meant to spark discussion, frame experiences, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on this trip and on future adventures.

For more information about student learning objectives and the format of the curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.

Learn More About the GLC

To view and complete the Pre-Program Activities, visit our online portal at the button below.

Pre-Program Activity Portal

Standards of Behavior

In order to run a safe and successful program, it is vital that travelers are prepared to be on their best behavior and bring enthusiasm and interest to each and every day. A communal atmosphere of trust and mutual respect is the foundational.  As such, all individuals participating on a Walking Tree program are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of personal conduct.

IMMEDIATE DISMISSAL

  1. Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  2. Associating with participants while they are in possession of 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 physical or emotional harm, or brandishing a weapon.
  4. Possessing, consuming, or distributing tobacco or nicotine, including vape pens.
  5. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle.
  6. Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew.
  7. Breaking group rules.

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

Health and Safety

We strongly recommend visiting the CDC Costa Rica website to get the most updated information on health and vaccination considerations in your destination country. In addition, we encourage you to consult with your personal family physician so you can be as informed as possible when making important decisions about vaccinations and other necessary health-related preparations before travel.

Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. Walking Tree 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.

Insurance

While we work hard to ensure the safest experience possible for our travelers on program, experience teaches that travel is never without risk. For this reason, we recommend that all travelers consider a travel insurance policy with  two additional provisions: Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) and Bed Rest. Detailed explanations of both provisions can be found on the link below.

To provide travelers and families with a quality option, Walking Tree has partnered with Travel Insured International, one of the most respected providers in the industry.  Begin by getting a quote here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: in order to secure coverage with CFAR included, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of your deposit/first payment. You must also insure 100% of your trip cost, so program tuition + flight.

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