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7 volunteer opportunities for teens

Article by Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah

Posted: October 14, 2022

6 min read

Travelling and preparing for your future don’t have to be two separate things. By signing up for a volunteer program abroad, you get to experience amazing new countries, have fun with like-minded people from all over the world, and immerse yourself in local cultures while learning new skills and making a positive impact in the world.

You could learn to scuba dive while completing coral reef surveys, learn to track wildlife in the African bushveld or trek through the Himalayas while assisting with community development work. And, there’ll be plenty of excursions over weekends where you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in local cultures while visiting local markets, tourist attractions and nearby towns.


Contribute to whale and dolphin conservation in the Canary Islands

A landmass created three million years ago from volcanic activity, the beautiful Spanish island of Tenerife forms part of the Canary Islands archipelago. 

On this program you’ll learn about environmental issues and assist with activities that contribute to whale and dolphin conservation. You’ll soon see how making a positive impact can make a trip abroad that much more meaningful.

On daily boat trips off the coast, you’ll contribute to surveys that monitor the behaviour and characteristics of pods of cetaceans – marine mammals. And when you’re on land, you’ll get involved in work aimed at addressing plastic pollution and the challenges of climate change alongside field experts. 

Some chaperoned activities over the weekend might also include exploring the islands and taking part in the many adventure activities they have to offer – like snorkelling and sea kayaking.


Answer the call of the wild in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. With turtles, birds and jaguars, animal lovers should make a beeline for GVI’s wildlife conservation project.

Based in Tortuguero National Park, this teen volunteer program is focused on conserving Costa Rica’s rainforests.This is an opportunity to not only learn more about wildlife conservation, but also to share your passion with the local community by raising awareness about environmental issues.

While staying in the camp accommodation, you’ll be fully immersed in jungle life: surrounded by sounds of wildlife, enjoying the tropical climate and learning to live sustainably.



Contribute to sea turtle conservation in Thailand

Known for its tropical climate, incredible landscape, spectacular biodiversity and awe-inspiring Buddhist monuments — Southern Thailand is a definite must see. 

On this program, you’ll be working at a local turtle conservation centre, run by the Royal Thai Navy. Here, you’ll assist with cleaning turtle tanks and tracking the growth of turtle hatchlings. You’ll also help out with beach cleanups and small renovation project at the local school. 

After volunteering, you’ll go on a guided tour of the region, learning more about conservation and local Thai culture by visiting several National Parks and the city of Phuket.


Reach new heights with a volunteer experience in Nepal

In the mountainous surrounds of Nepal, you and other volunteers can participate in improving learning environments at local educational facilities we partner with. Working alongside local workers, projects can include adding more desks to classrooms, renovations of the library or bathrooms, and building and repainting walls. 

As well as being immersed in Nepali culture, a highlight of this youth volunteer opportunity is the opportunity to experience a trekking tour, which can be easily arranged through our partners at Skylark Himalayan Tours and Travels.


Learn about wildlife in South Africa

This conservation awareness program offers an unfiltered look at African wildlife: a front-row seat to one of the greatest experiences in the world. Watch lions stalk their prey, giraffes peer out from behind trees, and elephants rumble across the veld.

This is an active education program focused on the challenges facing Africa’s wildlife. It’s a chance to get involved in implementing solutions, and may even inspire you to continue wildlife conservation work long after the program is over.


Where better to get a taste for aquatic life than in the waters off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula? Here, you can explore conservation while learning to dive.


Dip a toe into marine conservation in Mexico

This PADi diving and marine conservation program for under 18s takes you into the watery heart of one of the best dive locations on the planet, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. Here you’ll help to collect data that will contribution to the long-term conservation of both this beautiful reef and its many inhabitants. 

You’ll also take part in the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Open Water Diver course – which teaches you how to dive, so you’ll return home a certified diver.

Plus, with Mayan cities and tropical jungles on the shore, and swirling shoals of fish below sea level, you’ll be swimming in fun activities.


Dive deeper with a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course in Mexico

Take your dive skills to the next level and earn your PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification on this program. The course is one step up from the PADI Open Water Diver certification, and will prepare you for adventure dives.

With your new-found skills you can dive even deeper into the underwater world and get more involved with coral reef research. During dives, you’ll record important data about the coral reef, and learn how to identify dozens of fish and coral species.

This program could steer you into a career in marine biology, professional diving or conservation. You’ll be working alongside seasoned experts who can mentor you and give you a glimpse into what working in the field is really like.

Are you ready to pack your bags but still need to get your parents on board? Head over to our parent information page which will answer any questions they might have.

By Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah is a freelance writer from New Zealand with a passion for outdoor adventure and sustainable travel. She has been writing about travel for more than five years and her work has appeared in print and digital publications including National Geographic Travel, Conde Nast Travel, Business Insider, Atlas Obscura and more. You can see more of her work at petrinadarrah.com.
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