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The best volunteer opportunities for high school students are group trips. Here’s why.

Article by Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah

Posted: October 28, 2022

5 min read

Volunteering offers many benefits for high school students, from unforgettable adventure travel to learning about other cultures and building life-long friendships. On group volunteer programs, students can also contribute to ethical, impactful programs.

GVI’s tailored school trips abroad give high school students immersive learning outside the classroom. In locations around the world, students have a chance to step outside their comfort zone and experience life in a different country. 

Here’s why school trips abroad are the perfect fit for high school students.

Incredible locations

GVI offers volunteer opportunities for high school students in a range of locations around the world. Each location sets the stage for unique adventures.

In Costa Rica, high school students can find out what coastal Caribbean life is like while learning about rainforest ecosystems or brushing up on their Spanish

For a deep dive into marine conservation, school groups can head to the Canary Islands off the West Coast of Africa. Volunteer groups here can support whale and dolphin conservation. Students can also hike together through the mountains or take a group surf lesson at one of Tenerife’s beaches. 

Nepal, with its soaring mountainscapes and prolific world heritage sites, provides both adventure and cultural immersion for curious students. Based in Pokhara, students can learn about social issues in Nepal and their solutions while getting to experience Nepali traditions. 

GVI has two bases in Thailand. School trips can head to the coast at Phang Nga where students can carry out turtle conservation and biodiversity surveys.

Itineraries in Phang Nga and Nepal can include adventure trips like kayaking through mangroves, or cultural excursions to stunning temples. 


Or, high school groups can head into the tropical jungles of northern Thailand where GVI’s Chiang Mai base is located. From here, high school students can contribute to elephant conservation in between Thai cooking classes and waterfall trips. 

In Cambodia, students can join community development projects with a focus on teaching, early childhood development, healthcare, and women’s empowerment. Based in the heart of Siem Reap, students will tour a number of sites, including the Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and take part in a guided forest trek.


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They will also get to learn from subject experts on topics such as wildlife conservation and community development.

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Volunteer groups can make valuable contributions to sustainable conservation and community projects

Volunteer school trips are a fun and interactive way for students to learn about and contribute to sustainable development. The volunteer activities students can take part in with GVI align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the long-term goals of our local partners. 

On volunteering school trips, students can help with local projects including community construction like building desks for schools or installing tanks for drinking water. They might help with beach cleanups and surveys of marine debris. Or they might contribute to biodiversity surveys to collect data on populations and behaviours of different species.



In groups, the impact is amplified and students will be able to see what can be achieved by pulling together. The contribution of volunteers to conservation research is measurable. “GVI’s work in conservation is centred around groundbreaking academic research. Google Scholar shows that peer-reviewed research papers published by GVI have been cited over 1,000 times,” explains Dr Vardhan Patankar, GVI’s Conservation Impact Director. Conservation efforts start with research that takes a lot of time and effort – which is where a group of students on a school trip can have an impact.


Learning to navigate social and cultural diversity is easier in a group

Volunteer opportunities for high school students are a powerful way to learn about topics such as inclusivity, cultural sensitivity, and equality. These concepts can feel intangible in a classroom, but on a school trip to a different country, they become essential. 

Getting to interact with people from different cultures, in different languages, makes understanding privilege a lot more tangible. Sometimes these topics can feel challenging or confronting – engaging with them as a high school group means there will be plenty of opportunities for reflection, discussion, and growth. 

Within a group, everyone will have different experiences and different privileges. Unpacking these together can be a huge learning opportunity and help students build empathy for their classmates as well as the community members they work with in their program locations. 

Developing these skills will give high school students a huge boost in today’s world, which requires a high level of sensitivity to navigate.



Group volunteering teaches students how to work in a team

Group volunteering is an early introduction to team dynamics and the importance of working together to reach a common goal. It’s also a great way to develop more self-awareness and sensitivity toward others. 

Working together, students will learn about time management, prioritisation, and communication. These are all foundational skills for the worlds of further study or work. 

No matter what longer-term goals students have, a volunteering school trip will equip them with valuable skills that will help them start to build a strong CV and develop as well-rounded individuals.


Group volunteer programs can be fully tailored

GVI’s group expeditions offer fantastic volunteering opportunities for high school students thanks to their bespoke itineraries. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure style – select from the epic locations on offer, then choose whether you want your school trip to be focused around exploration, impact or challenge. 

Activities can be customised to suit each school trip. Whether the priority is to develop cultural intelligence, critical thinking, or resilience, school trips can be carefully crafted around intentional activities. 

Learn more about our tailor-made group volunteer opportunities for high school students.

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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