One thing we like to make clear: VISIONS is not for everyone. It’s not a teen tour. Sure, it’s fun, but also requires hard work and dedication to the communities we work in. It’s a perfect fit for those who want to dig deep and really make a difference. The world awaits!
Our programs are exceptional because of our people. Our key role is to encourage students to be as open as possible to the learning that awaits them in their community service programs. From program directors and summer leaders to local project coordinators, our staff works hard to create an inclusive environment.
VISIONS has set the standard for international community service programs for high school and middle school students for almost 30 years. Collaborative service work and cross-cultural living help our teen volunteers understand a complicated world and learn meaningful ways to contribute productively.
Your experience will not include touring all through a country and doing projects as you go. Instead, you will anchor down in the heart of a local neighborhood with your group members and leaders. You will live the rhythm of daily life, truly getting to know the place and people.
Small on purpose, for purpose, and with a 1 to 4 or 5 leader to student ratio. Group communication is central to the experience; participants spend quality time with community members, mentors, and each other. And small groups create an inclusive environment of genuine acceptance and open-mindedness.
Not your typical teen tour – this is real work (think hammer in hand!) in communities with real needs. You will get your hands dirty, build things, solve problems, brainstorm as a team, work with kids, and have the satisfaction of leaving behind a meaningful structure and making a genuine impact.
We have worked in most locations for 20 years or more. That means we know the community, and they know us, welcoming us each summer with open arms. Solid partnerships mean we are able to learn about the true needs of the community, and have an insider’s glimpse into their culture.
VISIONS staff and leaders are the backbone of a safe and dynamic summer. Executive Director Katherine Dayton has led and laid the groundwork for VISIONS programs since 1996. Throughout the year our administrative team works behind the scenes to ensure that VISIONS delivers high quality summer programs year after year.
Each program is led by a Director and up to five other leaders, maintaining a staff-to-student ratio of 1 to 4 or 5. The hiring process is competitive, requiring that all leaders have reference and background checks, extensive training, and first aid certifications. Leaders include teachers, outdoor educators, Masters and Ph.D. students, returned Peace Corps volunteers, carpenters, and other professionals.
Senior Program Director
Family Outreach Coordinator
British Virgin Islands
Ecuador & Galapagos
Northern Passage Middle School
VISIONS collaborates at the grassroots level, committed to our community partners. We have lived and worked in the Dominican Republic, Montana Indian reservations, and British Virgin Islands for more than two decades. Most other sites have hosted VISIONS teens for more than 15 years. When we develop new programs, we do so with long-term partnerships in mind. These enduring relationships translate into exceptional opportunities for deep cultural learning. You will interact with local people who know and care for us. And you will leave with a deeper understanding of what life is like in other parts of the world.
Our roots go back to the early 1970s when a few New York friends and educators relocated to a Pennsylvania farm to establish an experiential summer camp for teens. Years of summers in this setting taught us that kids loved the camaraderie, the physical labor, and the shared sense of purpose. Teens thrived while working and living together. The idea of VISIONS sprang from this knowledge. Teenagers want to be part of something bigger and are willing to work hard to meet big goals. In 1988, we created a kind of Peace Corps for youth, sensing that this kind of volunteerism would appeal to teens. We were right.