About Us


Costa Rica Explorations provides students of all ages with a cross-cultural experience in which they can gain a more compassionate perspective of the diverse cultures of the world.

Using an experiential hands-on approach, through community service projects, homestays, & adventure travel, participants are able to develop greater self- confidence, leadership techniques, independence, and team-building skills. We strive to open students’ eyes to their own capabilities of being able to make a positive difference in the world.

Working side-by-side local community partners we strive to help organizations define and realize their needs in order to educate and increase awareness, to improve infrastructure, to provide needed access to resources, to support environmental sustainability and community development.

Our Student Groups

Costa Rica Explorations offers safe, private, and customized student travel programs for middle school and high school students. Our trips are geared towards students and teachers who are interested in an authentic cultural-immersion experience, international service opportunities and adventure travel.

Although Spanish is not a prerequisite for participation in our programs, participating students and teachers have an incredible opportunity to practice their Spanish-speaking skills on a daily basis.

Interested teachers, group leaders or parents contact us to help them organize a customized student travel program in Costa Rica. We personalize your trip to fit your group’s unique travel needs, duration, and budget.

All of our student program offerings are private, contracted programs, which means your group will travel independent of other student groups. We currently do not offer open-enrollment programs for individual students.

Our host teachers are Spanish teachers, Service-Learning Coordinators, Science Teachers or community-service based group leaders. We work with public schools and private schools. Our client base is diverse. Most of our student groups are co-ed.

Specialty groups such as Girl Scout or Boy Scout Troops, Youth Church Organizations, and Rotary Clubs are also attracted to our programs due to the focus on International Service Projects. We also are gaining interest in graduating 5th grade dual-language immersion students and their families.

Our Philosophy

We attain our goals by incorporating three equally-important components into each program. Each of these components plays a key role in the student’s personal development and cross-cultural experience while traveling abroad with Costa Rica Explorations.

#1 – International Community Service Projects

The students are able to experience firsthand their ability to help communities in need internationally. Costa Rica Explorations teaches students that when planning a service project each project should be tailored to the unique needs of the community. All groups must be equally invested in the project. Students are encouraged to fundraise beforehand. This money is used to purchase the supplies for their project. The goal of the service projects is to help the community, but also to teach students skills that they will be able to apply within their hometowns. Our hope is that they look at the needs of their own communities and with their newly learned skills, develop projects to help their neighbors at home.

#2 – Language & Cultural Immersion Homestays

The homestay phase integrates each student into the natural, everyday way of life of the local community. The students eat three meals a day with their families, engage in daily routines, learn how to communicate in the Spanish language, and teach their families English words and phrases. It is a true intercultural exchange. Through their homestays, students not only learn Spanish, but they also learn a different way of life. They gain a mutual understanding and respect for diverse cultures. Their families, in return, have the same experience.

#3 – Individual and Group Development

While the students are participating in adventure day trips, educational field trips, homestays, and/or community service projects, they are challenged to evaluate their individual growth as well as their ability to work within a team. Students are aided through this process by setting attainable personal and group goals. These goals are realized through workshops, team-building activities, and leadership-development exercises. Students process their experiences and grow through regular group discussions. They are encouraged to analyze their personal development by means of reflection and journal entries.

Founders

Molly Alden-Rabenau

Community building and education have been lifelong passions for Molly. She grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and throughout high school worked as a peer tutor and summer camp counselor. She went on to study at Miami University and received her Bachelors of Science in Psychology with a minor in Spanish and Latin American Studies. After college, she moved east to work with youth in a therapeutic wilderness setting during the summers and in the role of crisis counselor for inner-city youth in the Boston Public Schools during the school year. Discovering her passion for working with children and adolescents from many different backgrounds, she went back to school and received her Masters Degree in Education at Boston College.

After finishing her degree, Molly headed south to Turrialba, Costa Rica to teach in an elementary school where she could fulfill her desire to become bilingual in Spanish and immerse herself in the Latino culture. Turrialba would become her second home – a place where her passions for community building, nature, and youth education could all come together. During that time, she and her husband, John, began to guide groups of high school students on service-based, Spanish-immersion programs. Inspired by this work, they decided to start their own company, Costa Rica Explorations, which would integrate her knowledge of education, love for Costa Rican people and culture and a passion to help improve the community they lived in. Since then, Costa Rica Explorations has worked for 10+ years with youth and families to create rich cultural-immersion, service-based student travel opportunities. Molly and her family currently live in work in Turrialba, Costa Rica.

John Rabenau

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, John’s adventurous spirit and entrepreneurial skills have taken him to live and to explore diverse settings from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to the Florida Keys to the arid mountains of Park City, Utah. After he obtained his degree in business at Miami University, John went on to become certified in various technical outdoor skills, such as sailing, rafting, canyoneering, and wilderness survival.

Through his work with the international youth adventure organization, Outward Bound, and other Costa Rican travel agencies, he has learned from the best organizations on how to develop and successfully operate adventure travel companies.

Driven to combine his knowledge of business, experience in outdoor education, and newly found love of Costa Rican culture, John teamed up with his wife, Molly, and put his unique skill set to work by starting the companies, Costa Rica Explorations and Costa Rica Escapes. Learn more about our sister organization, Costa Rica Escapes, which specializes in customized Costa Rica itinerary and vacation design throughout Costa Rica for family vacations, honeymoons and adventure travel.