Immersion Service Community

Tech-Free: Disconnect So You Can Really Connect

Teen Service Trips


VISIONS programs have been changing the lives of teenagers for 35 years. Our programs are built with the powerful pillars of collaborative service, cross-cultural friendships, adventurous exploration, and community-building. This is not a teen tour. It’s an opportunity to grow into a fuller version of yourself.

The most physically and mentally rewarding summer I’ve experienced.

—Alexandra Tatarski


Let a VISIONS program rewrite the script of your everyday life.

Away from your usual habits and schedules, you discover new things about yourself and new ways of being in the world.

Choose your worksite four days a week and another day will be on homebase crew, a fun “day in the life” including making breakfast, running errands and buying food for the next meals, laundry and cleaning up our living space. Breakfasts and dinners are usually eaten at home, and lunches at the project or excursion sites. Around 2 pm, we break for cultural and recreation activities, and weekends are set aside for full-day excursions.

Evenings are filled with hosting dinner guests, campfires, games, and opportunities to relax and enjoy new friendships. Three or four evenings a week, we have “Circle” meetings that last about an hour.

Keep reading for details about all of these program elements!

My program was absolutely amazing. I was surrounded by the most incredible people 24/7, and that really makes a trip like this.

—Sierra O'Brien


When it comes to determining community needs, we believe our local partners know best.

That’s why our service projects are chosen by local nonprofits and community leaders. Programs include construction (carpentry, masonry or adobe, depending on the location), environmental initiatives, social service with children or elders, and animal welfare. See a Comparison Chart of the types of projects for each program location.

No previous experience is required—just a willingness to give it your all. You’ll choose from a few different worksites each day, rotating around and experiencing each of them. If desired, you’ll have the option of spending most days at a favorite project that you’re invested in.

The shared accomplishments are a lasting reward for everyone—community members and high school volunteers alike!

“I have never had so much fun with such amazing individuals, completing projects that will benefit so many people.”

—Patrick Fleming

I loved seeing how much one small group of people can accomplish.

—Lizzie Friedman

I learned a lot by disconnecting from the outside world for four weeks.

—Jory Lindekugel


Almost everything we do is driven by the desire to connect with local friends and the culture.

Decades of working with our communities means that you’ll be welcomed like an old friend. Relationships are not transactional and we aren’t passing through as tourists for voluntourism. Instead, the service and immersion are interwoven—one cannot exist without the other on a VISIONS program.

So, settle in and create a home away from home! This is your chance to foster a sense of community in a culture very different from your own. You’ll also remove an obstacle to connection— tech devices. Unplugging allows us to be more plugged in locally and to not separate ourselves by having expensive devices.

If you take Spanish, then our Spanish sites provide real-world opportunities to improve language skills—a terrific bonus to everything else you’ll accomplish!

I love how VISIONS allows us to be really immersed in the community. I feel like I’ve been living there my whole life.

—Grace Lee


Connection to the world around us bolsters our connections to each other and ourselves.

VISIONS teens spend time in beautiful and fascinating settings. Most days after work, we unwind with activities such as workshops with artisans, swimming, hiking, games with neighbor kids, and so much more.

Weekends are for full-day excursions, a “day stay” with a local family (on some programs), events and travel to some of the “must see” destinations as well as hidden gems shared with us by local friends.

Along the way, we have fun and stay open, allowing each experience to enrich our understanding of the world. See the comparison chart for the types of exploration on each program.

“The adventure and excursions were definitely a favorite part of the program— I have never had the opportunity to do anything like this before!”

—Sanelma Heinonen

It taught me that taking risks can lead to beautiful experiences and growth.

—Sylvan Lebrun

The sense of camaraderie is something I will never forget.

—James Robbins


We prioritize inclusive group dynamics for a fulfilling experience.

That’s why we have some standards that differ from most teen programs. For example, most participants come solo, and no more than two friends can attend the same program together. We also don’t introduce participants before the program, so we all arrive on equal footing and ready to build a great team!

Teamwork is essential, both to ensure the work is completed and to provide the sense of belonging that comes when everyone pulls together. Our groups are large enough to include diverse personalities, backgrounds and interests, but small enough to form trusting bonds.

We easily flow between small, rotating “breakout” groups for worksites and some activities, and the large, full group that spends time together each day.

I had a wonderful experience that I know I will never forget and made friends that I will hope to keep forever.

—Justin Smith


Three or four nights a week, we “circle up” to share and grow.

This deliberate slow-down is an opportunity to reflect on the volunteer and cultural experience. We set this time aside to build our community, intentionally and step by step. Issues that arise naturally in a group of people who live and work together are acknowledged and in the process, Circle meetings unite us and bind the program elements together for lasting impact.

These gatherings also encourage self-reflection and awareness of one’s impact on others. If we are able to feel, think and behave thoughtfully within our group, we are more likely to positively influence the communities in which we live. Learning to listen and be comfortable giving genuine feedback helps us communicate and make constructive life decisions.

I think that Circle is something that really sets VISIONS apart. It provided us with emotional outlets and got us to reflect on the work we were doing. I had the experience of a lifetime.

—Adrien Rolet

Circle helped show me the person I want to be.

—Paden Dvoor

They worked beside us as peers and gained the respect they needed as leaders.

—Jessie Weiser


VISIONS leaders keep our programs safe, fun and dynamic.

These conscientious and compassionate mentors truly enjoy working with teenagers. Mostly in their mid-20s to mid-30s, our leaders are former Peace Corps volunteers, teachers, graduate students, wilderness instructors and more. They understand that young people have tremendous energy, empathy and enthusiasm, and are skilled at using these qualities for effective action.

Leaders are certified in First Aid and CPR, and some hold advanced certifications. And here’s the kicker: With an almost unheard-of ratio of one leader to every four or five participants, VISIONS ensures that everyone gets the most out of these relationships and the entire experience.

Our leaders provided us with wonderful guidance and acted as role models, teachers, and friends.”

—Katie Grossman

What kids and parents say about us is more telling than what we say about ourselves.

VISIONS in The New York Times