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Volunteer summer programs for high school students

Article by Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah

Posted: January 11, 2023

5 min read

You can dive into international adventure before you finish high school. Volunteer summer programs for high school students give you the opportunity to travel abroad and learn in immersive ways. Choose from community or conservation-focused programs around the world for a summer holiday experience you’ll never forget. 

You’ll team up with other like-minded teens as you pitch in on international development projects. Joining a summer volunteer program will push you out of your comfort zone, but it will also grow your confidence and expand your knowledge. 

Make the most of your holidays with these volunteer summer programs for high school students.

Volunteer in community development and sea turtle conservation in Thailand

Volunteer summer programs for high school students can cover both community and conservation. In Southern Thailand, you can join a project that helps support the conservation of green turtles and contributes to renovations at local schools. There’s plenty of time to see more of Thailand on this volunteer program as well. You’ll get to go on a guided tour to the city of Phuket and several national parks, learning about Thai culture and responsible tourism along the way. 


Learn about rainforest and wildlife conservation in Costa Rica

Learn about rainforest conservation on Costa Rica’s hot and humid Caribbean coast. You’ll go on jungle hikes through Cahuita National Park, and paddle through rainforest canals in canoes. You’ll learn about the unique ecosystems and species that exist within the rainforest, spotting monkeys, birds and amphibians that live in this lush environment. 

As a volunteer, you’ll contribute to the protection of this ecologically rich area by carrying out biodiversity surveys and setting camera traps. This is a science-focused program, so you’ll be given training and guidance from skilled leaders. You’ll head home with a whole host of new skills, as well as a renewed appreciation for the natural world. 

Help out with sea turtle and marine conservation in sunny Greece

Volunteer summer programs for high school students can be as relaxing as they are inspiring. On a sea turtle conservation program in Greece, you could bask in sunshine in a historic town on the glittering coast, after spending rewarding hours helping to protect endangered sea turtles. Loggerhead turtles nest on the white sand of Giannitsochori. You’ll spend time on the beach carrying out surveys to track nesting activity and help to protect the nests from predators and seawater. The GVI base is only minutes from the beach, so your downtime will be a blissful combination of sea, sun and sand. You’ll also have time to explore the beautiful Peloponnese area, with activities introducing you to Greek culture, history and food. 

Go on an African wildlife conservation safari program

You could spend your summer on a private wildlife reserve in South Africa, spotting elephants, lions, cheetahs, and other incredible wildlife. On a safari conservation awareness program, you can help to track and record data on the animals living in the reserve. This will give you insight into conservation initiatives in South Africa, and a glimpse into what a career in this field might look like. Life on the savannah is true immersion in one of the world’s great wilderness areas. As part of your program, you’ll also get to visit Kruger National Park and take part in adventure activities like hiking, climbing and kayaking. 

Contribute to a community development program in Nepal

Experience life in Pokhara, the gateway to the Himalayas, while contributing to a community development project in Nepal. As a teen volunteer, you can help to improve local educational facilities. Your responsibilities might include building classroom desks or installing drinking water tanks.

During your time in Pokhara, you’ll get to visit Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries. To top off your Nepal experience, you’ll be taken on a guided trek through the foothills of the Himalayas. You’ll stay in Nepali teahouses along the trail, and get to enjoy incredible views of some of the tallest mountains on Earth. 

Gain your PADI Open Water certificate and go diving on a marine conservation program in Mexico

If you’re passionate about the oceans and marine life, a PADI Open Water certification is your first step to exploring more of the planet’s underwater ecosystems. 

Getting your first diving qualification as part of a volunteer summer program for high school students in Mexico ticks multiple boxes. You’ll get to experience your first dives, get certified, find out if a career in marine biology is for you, and contribute to important conservation initiatives on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. 

You might get involved in monitoring corals, collecting valuable data on nesting sea turtles, or taking part in beach clean ups. While diving, you could see everything from technicolour corals to graceful rays and even dolphins. There’s plenty to do on land as well. You can taste Mexican cuisine, visit Mayan ruins, and enjoy life right beside a stunning Yucatán beach. 

Go on the adventure of a lifetime. Explore volunteer summer programs for high school students with GVI. 

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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