2024 Laurelhurst Costa Rica Service Adventure

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2024 Laurelhurst Costa Rica Service Adventure!  We have created two webpages dedicated to this once in a lifetime experience so that travelers are as informed as possible throughout the process. The Pre-Enrollment page 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 intended to prepare travelers for participation on the adventure ahead. Please be sure to review the information thoroughly and get excited for Costa Rica!   Pura vida!
Travel Dates: June 20, 2024 - June 29, 2024
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,390 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Confirmed Airfare: $1,392

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 run safe, engaging, and immersive programs for our travelers and given the unpredictable nature of international travel we must remain flexible in our planning. Changes to a schedule are uncommon but, we reserve the right to adjust programming in the best interest of the group. 

DayLocationDescriptionLodging
June 20USA - AlajuelaToday the group will travel from the USA to San Jose, Costa Rica! Upon arrival, we’ll settle into a lovely hotel on the outskirts of the city for dinner and an orientation meeting to discuss the upcoming trip in detail.Hotel Aeropuerto
June 21Alajuela - Host CommunityAfter breakfast, we'll head to our host community. After arrival we'll tour the town, learn more about our service project/s and then head home with our new families for the evening. Unless otherwise specified, students will be placed two to a home. Breakfasts and dinners will be with families while lunch will be served at the service site. In the afternoons and evenings, activities are flexible and will vary, but may include time with host families, excursions to explore the surrounding area or group reflection sessions.Guadalupe
June 22Host CommunityToday we will begin working on our service project and spending time with host families. Afternoon & evening activities will vary and details regarding service work will become available as departure nears. Guadalupe
June 23Host CommunityToday, we will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families. This evening, we will learn how to dance salsa, bachata, and merengue.Guadalupe
June 24Host CommunityToday we will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families. Evening activities will vary.Guadalupe
June 25Host CommunityToday we will finish working on our service project, and we will also have our farewell party with our families. This is a great opportunity to practice the dancing steps that we learned during the week.Guadalupe
June 26Guadalupe- UvitaAfter breakfast and after saying good bye to our families, we will head west to the small surfside town of Uvita on the central Pacific coast but before getting to Uvita we will hike down to Nauyaca waterfall, one of the most spectacular in a country full of spectacular waterfalls! We will spend a few leisurely hours swimming, relaxing, and enjoying lunch at the waterfall. Tucan Hotel
June 27UvitaWe will spend the morning having private surf lessons from some of Costa Rica's best surfers. Never surfed before? No problem! The waves at Uvita are perfect for beginners and almost everyone is able to stand up. In the afternoon, we can relax on the beach and do some souvenir shopping. Tucan Hotel
June 28Uvita - AlajuelaToday we'll end the trip with a splash during a whitewater rafting trip along the Savegre River! Navigate class I, II and III rapids as you descend from the mountains towards the ocean. After lunch we'll make the drive back to the big city for a cozy farewell dinner ahead of our international departure the following morning.Airplane
June 29Alajuela - USAFly home, hasta luego!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 program accommodations. Walking Tree partners with hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, clean and safe.  We vet and inspect the accommodations to ensure they uphold the ethos of our programs, are great values for our travelers and nice places to rest after enriching days of travel.  

Below are the accommodations we anticipate using on your trip, subject to availability. 
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.

Hotel Aeropuerto

Hotel Aeropuerto is located five minutes away from the Juan Santa María airport. Clean rooms and friendly staff will make you feel at home the moment you drop your bags. The swimming pool  is surrounded by fruit trees and flowers, which attract a number of butterflies and birds, and even some iguanas and squirrels. Students will be grouped by gender. Wifi is available throughout the property.

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.

Tucan Hotel

Tucan Hotel is a locally owned and operated three star hotel close to playa Uvita in the Marino Ballena National Park. Off the beaten path, the hotel comes with modern amenities, a private pool, and great service. It’s the perfect place to relax away from the crowds. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

Group Flight

Type Carrier Name Carrier Code Flight Number Departure Airport & City Departure Date and Time  Arrival Airport & City Arrival Date and Time 
Outbound
AS
1143
June 20, 2024 at 08:00 AM
June 20, 2024 at 10:30 AM
Outbound
AS
1352
June 20, 2024 at 01:00 PM
June 20, 2024 at 08:00 PM
Inbound
AS
1351
June 29, 2024 at 12:50 AM
June 29, 2024 at 06:00 AM
Inbound
AS
2211
June 29, 2024 at 10:07 AM
June 29, 2024 at 12:28 PM

Once your flight 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 support staff in all destinations and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Below you’ll find a list of the team members involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program.

Amelia “Ame” Garita Castillo
Amelia “Ame” Garita Castillo
Country Operations Manager - Costa Rica


University Nacional, Costa Rica. Business Management/Sustainable Tourism

Amelia was born in San Gerardo de Rivas, Costa Rica, close to the highest mountain Cerro Chirripo. While a young girl Ame had the opportunity to climb Cerro Chirripo with her father over 50 times before she turned 18, and fell in love with the outdoors and wilderness. After having these amazing experiences she went on to study tourism and business management in the National University of Costa Rica where she graduated with a bachelors degree. Since then she has worked for the Costa Rican tourism board, before moving on to guiding. She has worked guiding students in outdoor adventure working for Outward Bound Costa Rica, Outward Bound Mexico, and Outward Bound Hong Kong. She also guides wilderness therapy with Pure Life by Aspiro in Costa Rica. She has had the pleasure of traveling in Europe and South America which further confirmed her love for traveling, the outdoors, and guiding. She has traveled to over 14 countries and loves to share her experiences with others and also help them discover their own passion, and worldly views. She speaks fluent Spanish and English, and most enjoys her time by guiding and helping others. She now works for Walking Tree full time as a part of the Country Operations Team in Costa Rica.

Carola Coto Mora
Carola Coto Mora
Program Leader


Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje – Certified Naturalist Guide

Born and raised in Costa Rica, Carola is passionate about nature, education, family and sports. She is a dynamic, adventurous and friendly person who has worked with student groups for the majority of her professional career. Carola lives in one of the most lush and biodiverse places in Costa Rica, and you can always catch her with her telescope for viewing wildlife.  She loves travel and has been to almost every corner of Costa Rica showing tourists the natural beauty of her country.

Gabriel Duncan
Gabriel Duncan
Co-Founder of Walking Tree Travel and Business Lead - Denver, CO


Colby College – B.A. International Relations and Government

While at Colby, Gabriel spent a semester in Spain at the University of Salamanca studying contemporary Spanish politics and Spanish language. He also lettered for four-years on Colby’s lacrosse team and earned All-American honors. After graduating, Gabriel hit the road. He fished commercially in Alaska, taught in Chile and China, led programs for students in Spain and Costa Rica, and traveled to over 50 countries and all 50 states in the USA. Regardless of where Gabriel is located, he is constantly haunted by his naive faith and unconditional love for Denver sports teams.

Patricia Porras Gonzalez
Patricia Porras Gonzalez
Program Leader


Patricia was born in San José, Costa Rica and raised in Sarapiquí. She hold a Bachelor’s degree in Education for primary and secondary levels. Over 11 years she has worked in adventure tourism and for a non-profit organization dedicated to forest conservation. During her time in tourism, she was part of organizing the Adventure Racing World Championship in Costa Rica, hosting delegations from over 50 countries. This opportunity led her to Ecuador as a special guest for their Adventure Racing World Championship. Patricia has traveled to other countries like Peru, Guatemala, and the United States. As an elementary school teacher, she taught in a rural area bordering Nicaragua, engaging with students at various grade levels. Her passions include conservation, forests, outdoor sports and travel.

Group Roster

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

  • 1 George Fox
  • 2 Eric Maxen
  • 3 Grant Porter
  • 4 Ravenna Fox
  • 5 Mirabel Oliver
  • 6 Finley Gerber
  • 7 Evelyn Enriquez
  • 8 Brennen Williams
  • 9 Stuart Mckenzie
  • 10 Lucille Boyd
  • 11 Claire Dammarell
  • 12 Violet Maxen
  • 13 Maya Harwood
  • 14 Charlotte Dougherty
  • 15 Elliott Bacon
  • 16 Dominic Schuknecht
  • 17 Degan Strong
  • 18 Zora Jane Gann
  • 19 Eleanor Hodge
  • 20 Piers Roemer
  • 21 Thomas York
  • 22 Andra Henriques
  • 23 Degan Strong
  • 24 Violet Maex
  • 25 Cleo Valentina Riffel
  • 26 Piers Roemer
26 Travelers

Blog and Communication

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

Beyond this proactive approach to communication during the trip, most destinations are wired enough to allow participants semi-regular access to WiFi so you can also expect to communicate with your traveler directly. 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 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.

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.
  4. 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 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.

Top