Over the years we developed specific programs to accommodate middle school students on travel abroad cross-cultural experiences. While many student travel programs are reserved and designed for high school or college-aged students, we have developed various itineraries that cater to teachers with students ages 12-14 years old.
Our middle school program itineraries expose younger students to genuine Costa Rican lifestyle with Spanish-language immersion and community service (with the additional support that this age group requires). Here are examples of how we customize our student programs to fit the needs of middle school students:
- Shorten the trip length
- Increase the length of the orientation phase to provide a more in-depth introduction to the program and its elements, thus easing the students into the experience and providing the necessary preparation to ensure a successful outcome
- Homestays are closer together and homestay communities cater to younger students
- More down time is added to the daily itinerary so students can recuperate energy
- Later morning start times are implemented to allow for more hours of sleep each night
Middle School Program Focuses
All of our Costa Rica middle school student travel programs include the following 3-phase program design:
Middle-school aged students are exposed to a different culture when they are paired up and placed with approved Tico families within a homestay community. Our middle school homestay communities are middle-class neighborhoods and are in small, rural towns located nearby essential resources such as health clinics, hospitals, supermarkets, and banks. Oftentimes, the homestays we use for middle school groups have more experience and are more accustomed to our homestay process. They have experience hosting younger students, and their homes are in close proximity of one another, so the host teacher and our guides are minutes away if needed.
All Students, host educators and our guides live within the community. The homestay families and community service projects are typically within walking distance. Find more information regarding the Homestay Selection Process and Homestay Communities.
Empowering middle school students to make a positive difference in the world through community-based service projects is an essential element of our programs. This is even more important with middle school students, who appreciate extra direction and tend to thrive under additional supervision in this environment. Our desired student-to-adult ratio during service projects is 2:1.
While middle schools students adhere to the same rules as high school students such as not using electrical tools and always wearing closed-toed shoes, the work tends to be done in shorter spurts while doing less-strenuous activities. Middle school groups are typically partnered with community service partners such as elementary schools, local kindergartens, and/or community parks.
Most projects consist of 8-16 total hours of work and are completed in half-day sessions in order to keep this age group’s interest and motivation. Projects often consist of light construction such as light carpentry work, painting murals, cleaning, planting trees or flowers, teaching English to elementary students and/or kindergarteners, etc. We also offers the option to coordinate a “sports day” or community BINGO.
3. Reflection & Travel
Our travel experiences for middle school students expose student travelers to a new language and culture through a structured and highly-monitored program. There is a high student-to-adult ratio in all aspects of the itinerary. Through light adventures and educational excursions about the rainforest, jungle and beaches of Costa Rica, students will be able to travel through and learn about Costa Rica’s incredible biodiversity, history, and geography.
Extra Care with Middle School Students
Middle School student groups traveling with us are encouraged to take an extra day and/or night in the orientation phase. This allows the middle school students to soak in the new culture, environment and differences for a slightly longer period of time in a familiar hotel environment before heading to the homestay community.
For many middle school student travelers, this is their first time out of the country (without their parents) for an extended period of time. This might not be an issue for some middle school students who have experienced overnight camps or international travel in the past, but for many middle schoolers, it puts students out of their comfort zone right away.
Additional time in the orientation phase allows for the our guides to build trust and confidence within the group. Feeling emotionally safe within a group is essential for a positive travel experience. Extra time during orientation also allows for more collaboration between the guides and host educators to run group meetings, team-building exercises and role-playing ensuring all questions have been answered and appropriate topics covered as the group prepares for the homestay and service phases.
Our program planners work closely with middle school host teachers before their group arrives to Costa Rica by providing suggested pre-program topics and mini-lessons to cover with their students in preparation for their trip to Costa Rica. This allows middle school students to begin familiarizing themselves with the program and its inclusions far before actually landing in San José, Costa Rica.
Our Costa Rica Middle School Student Itineraries
Based on the group’s goals & budget, our student travel itinerary options range in duration from 8 to 12 days. All of our middle school travel programs include Homestays, Culture and Service, however, many schools are motivated to travel to additional destinations to experience the variety of different environments Costa Rica has to offer.
Our itineraries should be thought of as “templates” to further craft to your particular needs and interests. While we can implement an itinerary exactly how it’s laid out, we also welcome you to contact us about customizing a trip to tailor it to your desires and goals that you want to be accomplished during the middle school students’ travel to Costa Rica.
Please feel free to browse our most sought-after itineraries listed below. If your group would like to make adjustments to the itineraries, we are open to customizing our programs to fit the needs of the group.
- 8-day Homestay, Culture, Service & Spanish Immersion Student Itinerary
- 10-day Homestay, Culture, Service & Beach Student Itinerary
- 12-day Homestay, Culture, Service, Beach & Volcano Student Itinerary
If your middle school group would like to opt out of the homestay phase of our program, we are open to arranging hotel accommodations for the duration of the program. Please inquire about this option, as the price will differ from those listed on our itineraries.
What Our Middle School Students Say:
“I would definitely recommend this program because this trip left such a positive program on me as a person.” — Lauren
“This trip opened my eyes to other cultures which expanded my awareness and will help me to relate to other people.” — Katie
“By far my favorite trip I’ve ever been on.” — Grace