So you want to make a difference this summer? A real, sore-muscled, mud-under-the-nails, dripping-sweat difference? Then pack your sunscreen and join us in sunny Puerto Rico. In this Caribbean paradise you’ll work as a team to repair aging rainforest trails, reforest a coastal wildlife refuge, and engage in a language and culture exchange with local peers and children. Your hard work and good deeds will be rewarded with plenty of adventure, too. You’ll hike, swim, surf and snorkel, and find out why Puerto Rico is known as “La Isla del Encanto ” – “The Island of Enchantment.”
Hacienda Verde, the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Preserve & Surfing
We’ll be introduced to our first overseas service project among the cool, rain-forested peaks above the town of Utuado at Hacienda Verde, a private ecological preserve integrating conservation, education, and sustainable development. In this rich ecosystem, we’ll repair and maintain hiking trails and lend a needed hand on a variety of other projects. We’ll take time off to explore and hike the rainforest’s fern-covered trails to misty mountaintops and hidden waterfalls. From the Hacienda, we’ll make our way to the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge in the southwest corner of the island. There, we’ll join U.S. Fish & Wildlife Rangers and help to improve valuable bird habitats by reforesting areas damaged by fire and clear-cut. It’s not all work and no play, however, and we’ll spend a day learning the fundamentals of surfing at one of the sports most fabled beaches in Rincón.
Vieques Island & Old San Juan
Our next stop will be Vieques Island, off of Puerto Rico’s east coast, where we’ll volunteer with a community organization that puts us in direct contact with local teens. Through our community service, we’ll help teach English and even learn a bit of Spanish, too. Kayaking a magical, nighttime paddle in one of the world’s most spectacular bioluminescent bays round out our exciting stay on Vieques. From the island, we’ll close out our amazing adventure with a day of exploration on cobblestoned streets and a festive final dinner in the heart of Old San Juan.
Please see our General FAQ page for many more frequently asked questions and answers!
How physically challenging is CS?
Given a rating of Challenge Level 3 (out of a maximum of 10), we consider CS to be a beginner service trip that any moderately fit, motivated student can successfully complete. While CS is not extremely demanding physically, many of our projects involve physical labor such as trail maintenance, invasive plant removal, or tree planting. Afternoon activities may include moderate hikes, a surf lesson, or sea kayaking and snorkeling. Please note that all of Apogee’s Challenge Levels are not scientific and are subjectively calculated by the Apogee staff.
How many hours of service will I earn on CS?
When performing service, students will spend anywhere between 4-6 hours daily on projects. This amounts to a total of 20 to 30 hours over the course of the trip — students will receive a letter verifying the service at the summer’s end.
Do I need to know how to speak Spanish?
No. Apogee’s leaders will be Spanish-speakers, and will be able to translate when necessary for the group. However, there are numerous opportunities to practice and learn with locals if your child is currently taking Spanish classes.
Aside from the trip cost, what are the additional expenses for this trip?
Apogee tuition costs are meant to be all-inclusive and include all meal, accommodation, and activity fees. The most significant additional expenses on our Caribbean Service trip will include travel to and from San Juan, a sleeping bag, a day pack (most school backpacks will work fine), and hiking boots or shoes.
What does a typical day on CS look like?
Every day in the Caribbean is different, as schedules are somewhat dependent on “Island Time.” Generally speaking, however, students should plan to be up early, ready to start the day with 4-6 hours of service. The afternoons will be spent hiking, taking in the Taíno culture, or exploring some of the most beautiful beaches the Caribbean has to offer.
Where will my child be sleeping at night?
Our groups will be staying indoors every night – in rustic, camp-like settings and in more finished hostel-like settings. Students can expect to have access to a bed, clean water, and showers every night.