19 Days

High School Service Program
Sustainability Projects
with Spanish Immersion

JUNE 16 to JULY 4, 2020 |  19 DAYS

JULY 9 to JULY 27, 2020 |  19 DAYS

JUNE 16 to JULY 4, 2020

JULY 9 to JULY 27, 2020

Program Overview

Venture 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador to where three ocean currents meet, seismic and volcanic activity shapes the land and the diversity of species inspired the theory of evolution. The Galapagos Islands are a global treasure under threat. Live and work on a permaculture farm in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island to help establish sustainable tourism alternatives. Snorkel with sea lions and observe blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas and giant tortoises. Practice your Spanish while expanding your view of the natural world on our Galapagos teen service trips.


“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.”


Lauren Colella


Embracing Projects That Matter

Service projects in the Galapagos help with environmental and social needs. Work on an environmentally sustainable, organic permaculture farm in the mountains of Santa Cruz. Plant cacao and green bananas (which are used in Ecuadorian cuisine—try some patacones to get ready!) Farm projects include cleaning the crop areas and planting new crops, building composting bathrooms, creating a mixed-medium welcome mural, building wood platforms for dwellings and making an extractor for essence of guava. Work at a school in the village of Santa Rosa, playing games with the kids and teaching English. Join local teens with Frente Insular to clean plastic and remove microplastics from the ocean.


“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.”


James Robbins


Santa Cruz Island

Making Meaningful Connections

In the mountains of Santa Cruz Island of the Galapagos archipelago, home will be Petrel Camp, an environmentally sustainable, organic permaculture farm. You will live completely off the grid with solar panels and a solar water heater. Learn about composting, alternatives to plastic, minimizing waste and consumption and how to live sustainably in creative ways. The farm grows coffee, bamboo, papaya, bananas, oranges, mangoes, pineapples as well as fruits that you’ve probably never heard of. Hundred-year-old giant tortoises wander through the farm, eating leaves, undisturbed and sometimes seek shade under solar panels (as pictured).


“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.”


Lizzie Edwards


From the stunning beaches to the jungle highlands, from one island to the next, Galapagos exploration traverses an incredible array of landscapes. Hike up to collapsed craters, dive down to coral reefs, swim with sea lions and fall in love with this biological treasure.

Setting Out To Go Beyond

When you reach the Galapagos, every step (and splash) you take will feel like an adventure. Explore gorgeous beaches unique to each island. Swim and snorkel amongst reefs and sea life of all shapes and sizes. Observe the abundant wildlife, including sea lions, giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies. Spend a day with a local family to connect with Ecuadorian culture and practice Spanish. As you hike the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, take in the uniqueness of the different islands and stroll along the shores, you’ll quickly understand why naturalist Charles Darwin called the Galapagos “a little world within itself.”


  • Snorkel amongst the coral reefs and sea lions
  • Hike to the top of Santa Cruz for a panoramic view and see the collapsed “craters” Los Gemelos
  • Relax on the beautiful beaches of Tortuga Bay
  • Visit Quito, UNESCO’s first World Heritage Site
  • Learn about the historic Galapagos National Park
  • Day trip to explore the pirate cave, “wall of tears” and black sand beach of Floreana Island
  • Cruise over to North Seymour island to see blue-footed booby colonies
  • Take cultural workshops including banana plant fiber weaving, crop processing, recycling, and sculpture
  • Play games and sports with local kids
  • Enjoy yoga, meditation and campfires at homebase


Monica Alvear

Sustainable Farmer

Monica Alvear is an artist, educator, farmer and mother of three girls. Originally from Guayaquil, Ecuador, Monica followed her passion for the environment and the study of biology to the Galapagos Islands 40 years ago. Back then tourism was almost nonexistent. Now that the immense popularity of tourism on the islands has caused environmental degradation, she works to develop sustainable alternatives for visitors to learn about this fascinating archipelago.

Monica has worn many hats in her life: flight attendant, working at the archeological museum of Ecuador, running a hotel, artist and teacher. She now lives in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, completely off of the grid and growing crops, creating art, and sharing her vision of the future with young people.

Ecuador Blog Posts

Where We Live

Where We Live

While service work is at the root of each teen service program, it’s in equal measure with cultural immersion that transcends the experience of an average tourist. In all of our homes away from home, we live very much as local people do, and we are part of the fabric of daily life.
2019 Summer Program Highlights

2019 Summer Program Highlights

As this summer 2019 begins to wrap up, VISIONS summer service trips continue to build, bond and explore. The following highlights provide overviews of the service projects, cultural experiences and adventures that are unique to each program.


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.


Feel free to contact us with any questions! We are happy to help find the best program to meet your goals for the summer.

Celebrating 30 Years