High School Service Program
with Spanish Immersion
Ages 14 to 18
“I loved being able to help at the school as well as reforest at the farm. The people at the worksites were so dedicated and inspiring, they made me want to do a great job.”
Embracing Projects That Matter
Service projects in the Galapagos address both environmental and social needs. You will work on an organic permaculture farm in the mountains of Santa Cruz. You will plant cacao and green bananas (staples for making delicious e patacones), prepare the farmland for planting crops, build composting toilets, design a mixed-medium mural, and construct tent platforms for small-scale sustainable tourism. In nearby Santa Rosa village we will play games with and teach English lessons to primary school kids. You will assist island teens from Frente Insular in their environmental initiatives and spend a day with a family, connecting with Ecuadorian culture and practicing your Spanish.
“My beliefs, values, and morals changed in ways I will never fully understand, and the sense of camaraderie with the other participants is something I will never let go of.”
Santa Cruz Island
Making Meaningful Connections
Our home in the Santa Cruz Island mountains is Petrel Camp, a sustainable permaculture farm using methods that cohere with the natural ecosystem. The farm grows coffee, bamboo, papayas, mangoes, pineapples and other fruits specific to the highland climate. With solar panels and a solar heating system, Petrel Camp operates off the grid (with a fully equipped modern kitchen, too). The giant tortoises that lumber the grounds undisturbed occasionally seek shade under the solar panels. You’ll learn to minimize waste and consumption and live sustainably in practical, creative ways. You’ll practice Spanish with locals who join on the service projects and accompany us on many activities. You’ll also spend a day with a local family, further connecting to Ecuadorian culture.
“The Galapagos Islands were incredible. I have always wanted to try snorkeling so I was very excited that we did that on the trip, and it was so cool to see sea lions (Los Lobos de Mar) underwater. It is a beauty that is not capable of explaining in words.”
FROM THE STUNNING BEACHES TO THE JUNGLE HIGHLANDS, FROM ONE ISLAND TO THE NEXT, GALAPAGOS EXPLORATION TRAVERSES AN INCREDIBLE ARRAY OF LANDSCAPES. HIKE TO CRATERS, DIVE TO CORAL REEFS, SWIM WITH SEA LIONS. FALL IN LOVE WITH THIS BIOLOGICAL TREASURE.
Setting Out To Go Beyond
When you arrive in the Galapagos, every step and splash you take is an adventure. Explore gorgeous beaches and snorkel among reefs and sea life of all shapes and sizes. Hike the equally compelling highlands where panoramic views of the different islands leave you breathless. Take a day trip to an uninhabited island known as one of the most important fishing sites for marine birds. Visit another of the islands—Floreana—which was first colonized by whalers and later had a penal colony. You will understand why naturalist Charles Darwin called the Galapagos “a little world within itself.”
ACTIVITIES AND EXCURSIONS
- SNORKEL WITH SEA LIONS AT INCREDIBLE CORAL REEFS
- HIKE TO A PANORAMIC VIEW OF THE TWIN CRATERS, LOS GEMELOS
- RELAX ON BEAUTIFUL BEACHES OF TORTUGA BAY
- DAY TRIP TO EXPLORE A PIRATE CAVE, “WALL OF TEARS” AND BLACK SAND BEACH OF FLOREANA ISLAND
- VISIT NORTH SEYMOUR ISLAND TO SEE THOUSANDS OF BIRDS AS WELL AS BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY COLONIES
- TAKE WORKSHOPS INCLUDING BANANA PLANT FIBER WEAVING, CROP PROCESSING, AND SCULPTURE
- VISIT QUITO, UNESCO’S FIRST WORLD HERITAGE SITE
MONICA ALVEAR SUSTAINABLE FARMER
Monica Alvear is an artist, educator, farmer and mother of three daughters. Originally from Guayaquil, Ecuador, Monica followed a passion for the environment and study of biology to the Galapagos Islands forty years ago. While almost nonexistent then, tourism today in the Galapagos is huge. The mass of visitors over the years indisputably has caused environmental degradation. Monica’s continuing goal is to find sustainable ways to minimize and manage tourism’s impact on the integrity of the Galapagos and best preserve this uniquely spectacular archipelago.
Monica has worn many hats in her life—flight attendant, artist and teacher, a stint at The National Museum of Ecuador, proprietor of a hotel. Monica lives off the grid in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island at Petrel Camp, her permaculture farm where she keeps making art and continuing to share with island youth her vision of a sustainable future.
Ecuador Blog Posts
Read what others have said about their experience in this location. You also are welcome to contact the VISIONS office to request student and parent references.
NOT QUITE READY?
Feel free to contact us with any questions! We are happy to help find the best program to meet your goals for the summer.