The Gift of Giving – Costa Rica Community Service

We can’t believe that we’re already halfway into our trip, and we are loving our time here in Costa Rica!

It’s been incredible so far and the whole team seems to be falling further and further in love with this little piece of land that translates to “Rich Coast” in English. Our time in Tamarindo took us to the edge of the coast, where the sand meets pristine, blue waters and the surfboards met our feet. Surfing was an amazing experience with Logan, Sophia D. and Camille leading the way! Danielle found her sea legs within minutes, while Zack and Max figured out how to ride those waves of power all the way back to the shore with the help of our spectacular coach and guide, Anthony. He told us to hop on the board, when to start paddling, send us sailing with a heavy push and then yell, “OK, STAND UP!”

After we finished up and washed the ocean out of our hair, we went next door to an outdoor patio with an amazing view of the water. It was great to relax with a beautiful view and hang out with each other after such an amazing activity. When we got back to the hotel, it was time to hand off the Funky Flamingo torch to yet another person…

(Before I continue, I should make you aware that our second Funky Flamingo was Danielle, for outstanding hard work on our community service project at the school, and general awesomeness when it comes to positive energy at all times).

We have crowned….

BROOKE!!! She constantly displays warmth and care, and she always makes an extra effort to show kindness towards the whole group and anyone we’ve spent time with.

Before reaching Flamingo, we had a blast at the mud baths, starting with a 10-minute sauna experience to flush toxins out of our pores, and followed it up by covering our body from head to toe with mud. Sunbathing followed to let it dry, and then we finished by washing it off in the lake – so much exfoliation and our skin felt terrific! Sophia K. jazzed up the faces of Sam, Alex and Katie – wowing everyone with her artistic skill. The award for the greatest percentage of their body caked in mud goes to Max – he piled on about an inch of mud and gave himself a facial in the process.

Ziplining in the rainforest was amazing! Wow. It was not just a zipline —it was a zipline course. 45 minutes of zipline after zipline, flying over and through canyons, and rappelling down walls. Sam and Danielle bravely hung upside down, arms flying through the sky as they zipped from platform to platform!

Community service this week ended on an extremely high note. Our team worked super hard to paint a big portion of a local house that was in need of some TLC. Dark and light blues, greens and whites were carefully splattered onto the walls of both the inside and outside for a family that really appreciated it. Baby Isaac, one of the children who lives in the house, seemed to like Danielle the most. He was nothing but smiles around her (and vice versa)! We were extremely impressed at our team’s ability to work so diligently and persistently, to finish the entire job in such a complete and careful manner. The house looked great by the time we left and the experience really seemed to bring out the best in everyone. Props to Simone for painting much of the high stuff that no one could reach, Katie and Sophia D. for their amazing attitudes painting the inside of a room, Claudia for being flexible and working in those tight spaces, and the ladies working outside who kept their spirits up by writing the lyrics to a new song while working! Logan was so inspired that he decided to give the shoes he was wearing to one of the teenage boys who lived there. His act of kindness inspired the rest of our group to figure out new ways we could help others!

It’s been an incredible ride so far! We can’t imagine what another week and a half will bring onto our paths. Tomorrow is Arenal — the famous park with a volcano and hot springs.

The Westcoast Blogge

We can’t believe that we’re already halfway into our trip, and we are loving our time here in Costa Rica!

It’s been incredible so far and the whole team seems to be falling further and further in love with this little piece of land that translates to “Rich Coast” in English. Our time in Tamarindo took us to the edge of the coast, where the sand meets pristine, blue waters and the surfboards met our feet. Surfing was an amazing experience with Logan, Sophia D. and Camille leading the way! Danielle found her sea legs within minutes, while Zack and Max figured out how to ride those waves of power all the way back to the shore with the help of our spectacular coach and guide, Anthony. He told us to hop on the board, when to start paddling, send us sailing with a heavy push and then yell, “OK, STAND UP!”

After we finished up and washed the ocean out of our hair, we went next door to an outdoor patio with an amazing view of the water. It was great to relax with a beautiful view and hang out with each other after such an amazing activity. When we got back to the hotel, it was time to hand off the Funky Flamingo torch to yet another person…

(Before I continue, I should make you aware that our second Funky Flamingo was Danielle, for outstanding hard work on our community service project at the school, and general awesomeness when it comes to positive energy at all times).

We have crowned….

BROOKE!!! She constantly displays warmth and care, and she always makes an extra effort to show kindness towards the whole group and anyone we’ve spent time with.

Before reaching Flamingo, we had a blast at the mud baths, starting with a 10-minute sauna experience to flush toxins out of our pores, and followed it up by covering our body from head to toe with mud. Sunbathing followed to let it dry, and then we finished by washing it off in the lake – so much exfoliation and our skin felt terrific! Sophia K. jazzed up the faces of Sam, Alex and Katie – wowing everyone with her artistic skill. The award for the greatest percentage of their body caked in mud goes to Max – he piled on about an inch of mud and gave himself a facial in the process.

Ziplining in the rainforest was amazing! Wow. It was not just a zipline —it was a zipline course. 45 minutes of zipline after zipline, flying over and through canyons, and rappelling down walls. Sam and Danielle bravely hung upside down, arms flying through the sky as they zipped from platform to platform!

Community service this week ended on an extremely high note. Our team worked super hard to paint a big portion of a local house that was in need of some TLC. Dark and light blues, greens and whites were carefully splattered onto the walls of both the inside and outside for a family that really appreciated it. Baby Isaac, one of the children who lives in the house, seemed to like Danielle the most. He was nothing but smiles around her (and vice versa)! We were extremely impressed at our team’s ability to work so diligently and persistently, to finish the entire job in such a complete and careful manner. The house looked great by the time we left and the experience really seemed to bring out the best in everyone. Props to Simone for painting much of the high stuff that no one could reach, Katie and Sophia D. for their amazing attitudes painting the inside of a room, Claudia for being flexible and working in those tight spaces, and the ladies working outside who kept their spirits up by writing the lyrics to a new song while working! Logan was so inspired that he decided to give the shoes he was wearing to one of the teenage boys who lived there. His act of kindness inspired the rest of our group to figure out new ways we could help others!

gift of giving

It’s been an incredible ride so far! We can’t imagine what another week and a half will bring onto our paths. Tomorrow is Arenal — the famous park with a volcano and hot springs.

The Westcoast Blogger

An Amazon Adventure

Four days and so many adventures ago, we arrived by plane, bus, and boat to our lodge on the Tambopata River in the Amazon jungle! Our service projects planting yuca at an organic community farm and helping beautify a local kindergarten brought us in touch with the Ese-Eja indigenous community, which has lived in the rainforest for thousands of years. Our activities with the experienced guides at the lodge gave us a chance to see some of the fascinating creatures of the Amazon, including caymans, tarantulas,  bats, and macaws in flight, which Zack was able to capture with his impressive photography skills!

Some highlights of our time in the jungle:

“I really enjoyed the night hike. I felt like an explorer looking for stuff! We saw a scorpion and a venomous snake!” ~ Gaby

Sloan liked seeing the monkeys, which were often playing in the trees surrounding the hotel.

Niki, Morgan, Justin, and Aiden loved playing with the kids at the school, where we helped build a playpen.

Spencer’s favorite part was “making a difference, especially at the school where we got to see who we were helping.”

Yesterday most of the boys and our guides started up a game of soccer, or futbol, as the Peruvians say. We’re enjoying soaking up the World Cup fever of Latin America!

Today we arrived in Puerto Maldonado, a city in the rainforest where we will be working at the Amazon Wildlife Center to care for animals. We were so excited to celebrate our Trip Director Teddy’s birthday with cake and dancing today, and we’re really excited to bring our 4th of July spirit to Peru tomorrow!

The Westcoast Blogger

Peru Language Group Shot

Crusin Our Through Costa Rica – Community Service Costa Rica

¡Hola from Costa Rica! The trip has only just begun and we have already had some amazing experiences! From day one, the trip members have bonded quite quickly and there are a lot of new friendships forming. After everyone arrived, we headed to our beautiful and authentic Costa Rican hotel. Quite soon after getting to […]

Costa Rican Adventures, Wildlife and Service – Costa Rica Community Service

Hola from Costa Rica! We have had an exciting week and have so much to update you on so hang tight. We just spent an amazing few days in Flamingo and Rincon de la Vieja exploring wildlife, going on adventures, and of course serving the community. We left Arenal and the stunning volcano and made […]

Keepin’ cool in Coolangatta! – Australia plus Hawaii

Hello from Down Unda! It is hard to believe we are already on day 9 of our trip here in Australia. Since our last scribe, we have spent 4 wonderful days in The Gold Coast, spending a lot of our time in Surfers Paradise. The name really does live up to its expectation; it truly […]

Adventures in the Amazon – Peru Language Immersion

¡Hola, padres! We are presently passing time in Puerto Maldonado.  We arrived yesterday after our amazing stay in the Amazon where we were introduced to two wonderful guides – Lenny and Daniel.  They greeted us and helped us board our boat which we took to our lodge.  On our boat trip, we ate a “packed […]

Buenos Dias from Quito – Community Service Ecuador

Buenos Dias from Quito! We’re proud to say that the trip is off to an amazing start! With all this excitement, this is bound to be a trip of a lifetime. Our first day started off with a trip to the northwest of Quito, into the cloud forest. Sydney M. took the lead in her group showing […]

Good Bye New Zealand, Hello Fiji! – New Zealand & Fiji

Kia Ora! We arrived to Franz Josef on the Westcoast of New Zealand at the Rainforest Retreat – a beautiful lodge located near the world famous glacier! Our journey down was spectacular as we had the Ocean on one side and the rising Southern Alps on the other. With the weather being somewhat uincooperative for […]

Free as a Bird-Costa Rica Community Service

Hello Friends and Family Yesterday, we embarked on a journey from the northern reaches of Costa Rica to mountainous Rincón de la Vieja National Park. Our hotel, Hacienda Guachipelin, is located at the foot of one of Costa Rica’s largest volcanoes, Volcán Rincón. As soon as we arrived, all of the trip members were suited […]