Unlocking opportunities

Duke of Edinburgh Award

Completing a GVI high school group program paves the way for students to apply for the Duke of Edinburgh Award – a prestigious achievement that opens doors to university and career opportunities and shows a dedication to personal growth. With experienced impact directors with PhD qualifications, students work on projects that tackle real-world challenges aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Critical science

Critical science

You'll contribute to vital conservation research targeted at protecting the earth's most valuable ecosystems.
Ethical engagement

Ethical engagement

Using the UN's SDGs as a framework, we've made a commitment to positive, constructive and sustainable impact.
Beautiful adventures

Beautiful adventures

You'll spend your days exploring some of the world's most breathtaking, exhilarating and remote wildernesses.

Teachers and parents

GVI’s high school group programs align seamlessly with the Duke of Edinburgh Award. During their program students gain valuable insights into global challenges, tackle real-world projects, learn from industry experts and contribute to long-term conservation projects grounded in science. With a focus on ethical volunteering and sustainable development, our programs instil values of responsible global citizenship, empowering young individuals to create a positive impact in the world.

Stand out from the crowd

Participating in a GVI school group program is a chance for students to demonstrate their abilities in key areas required when applying for the award, including service work and volunteering, skills development and completing an expedition program abroad. Including the Duke of Edinburgh Award in their university application personal statements is an excellent way for students to strengthen their profile and highlight their commitment to personal growth and community engagement.

Our school trips abroad typically last 1–3 weeks and include:

  • Volunteer work abroad.
  • A bespoke itinerary.
  • 360-degree support, before and after the trip.
  • Travel with a trusted teacher and a highly qualified expedition leader who will accompany each group.
  • An expedition leader to student ratio of 1:12.
  • Adventure and exploration activities such as hiking or zip-lining.
  • Cultural activities such as cooking classes or learning phrases in the local language. 
  • An introduction to the concept of international sustainable development and talks by local subject area experts in areas such as wildlife conservation and community development.
  • Accommodation and three meals a day.
  • Transport to and from the airport, and during the rest of the trip.

Shaping future leaders

The Duke of Edinburgh Award holds an impressive reputation for transforming the lives of young individuals. With its three levels of awards – bronze, silver and gold – this program offers experiences that cater to participants at various stages of their personal development.

For those aged 14–15, the bronze award kicks things off with an exciting introduction. It’s all about community service projects, getting active with physical activities, and developing new skills. This early exposure helps participants mature and grow in incredible ways.

Next up is the silver award, aimed at students aged 15–17. This level raises the bar with more challenging adventures. Participants dig deeper into community service, push their physical fitness boundaries and take their skills to the next level. Plus, there’s an epic expedition that tests their teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership chops.

Finally, the prestigious gold award is reserved for those aged 16 and above. This is the ultimate achievement! Participants tackle significant community projects, excel in physical fitness, and reach advanced skill levels. 

Equipping students for lifelong success

These awards offer a range of benefits to students in their respective age groups. Students develop qualities like resilience, teamwork, self-confidence and a strong sense of responsibility – qualities that are highly valued by academic institutions and employers, giving students an edge in their future ventures. 

The Duke of Edinburgh Award recognises outstanding achievements while equipping young individuals with the skills, experiences and mindset to thrive. It’s a powerful catalyst for personal development, empowering participants to embrace challenges, discover their potential and embark on a lifelong journey of growth and success.

Contribute to lasting change

At GVI, our goal is to create a global community of like-minded individuals driven by their passion for positive impact. We work hand in hand with local partner organisations and communities to bring about lasting change, leaving a positive impact long after our programs end.

Teachers can encourage their students to complete the practical expedition component for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards through our high school group expedition in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Here they’ll have the chance to develop skills like leadership, teamwork, self-awareness and resilience. Working alongside professional conservationists on year-round project work that focuses on sustainability and long-term impact, they’ll make a valuable contribution to real-life conservation initiatives. 

Chiang Mai, Thailand

In Thailand’s northern region, students on our elephant conservation program have the opportunity to support essential conservation project work in the traditional Karen community of Huay Pakoot, while surrounded by breathtaking mountainous scenery. Led by experienced impact directors, students make a measurable impact by supporting vital conservation projects, promoting ethical elephant tourism and gaining valuable insights into regional conservation challenges.

While in Chiang Mai, students have the opportunity to explore ancient temples, indulge in delicious street food and take in the vibrant local culture. They can also take part in adventures like hiking, zip-lining and discovering hidden waterfalls. This transformative journey will broaden their horizons and create memories that last a lifetime.

Community programs

We also offer school trips abroad with community-focused programs in the following countries:

Speak to your enrolment manager for more information on further destinations available.

Setting the standard for excellence

GVI has over two decades of experience in running tailor-made group programs. And our commitment to excellence has earned us numerous awards in the field of international experiential education. We offer 360-degree support and work to create the best high school group programs possible, in order to provide a unique and memorable learning experience for young students.

Putting safety first

Health and safety is our top priority, which is why we insist on background checks for all of our participants and staff, as well as training in emergency first aid and in the implementation of our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy. We have also established extensive Emergency Action Plans, crisis management plans and situational risk assessments. These cater for all manner of events that might occur on base. Our expertise in managing young volunteers in international destinations has also secured us British Standards 8848 compliance. 

We offer 24-hour support in-country, as well as a 24-hour emergency desk, which is also available to parents. 

Our commitment to teacher support

As teachers play such an important role in the success of our school trips abroad, we agree in advance to an expedition leader, teacher and student ratio to give additional peace of mind. This is usually a minimum of one expedition leader assigned to a group of six participants.

We also offer one complimentary spot for a teacher for every twelve high school students attending the program. We also offer pre-departure support with travel logistics and to make sure school groups know what to expect upon arrival and during the program. We conduct a teacher webinar where teachers, parents, guardians and chaperones can ask questions and receive feedback from our support coordinators.

Seamless airport transfers and communication channels

All transport during the project, as well as the final airport drop-off, is provided by GVI expedition leaders. In order to manage airport arrivals for our groups, we set up instant messaging groups that allow communication between students, teachers, parents and expedition leaders. Uniformed GVI expedition leaders meet the group at the airport upon arrival and they are then transported to their accommodation. After this point, all parents receive an email letting them know that their child has arrived safely.

For parents and educators looking for more information, visit our parent page to download our Parent Information Pack.

Hear from students and educators

“We enjoyed and appreciated the generosity and professionalism in GVI staff from the early stage about communication to the farewell. Everything has been well coordinated and clearly communicated. We sure feel part of the family.”

– Dorothe, educator at Odsherreds Efterskole

“It was very educational and fun but also impactful.”

– Jessika, student at Odsherreds Efterskole

“I thoroughly recommend GVI to anyone; whether you are an educator looking to take a group away, or an individual looking for a career break or some volunteering experience, GVI will cater for you.”

– Matthew, educator at Newton International School

“Working in a large group of 16 people I learned leadership, patience, and how to contribute positively in a team, abilities that will all be useful in future employment. But aside from having a positive impact on my future employability, this program left a positive impact on the world around me.”

– Rhiannon, student at Duke University

“Having spent 10 years planning and leading school adventures for young people I have experienced first-hand the benefits and valuable life skills that group travel brings. I have confidence that by taking your students out of their comfort zone, by challenging them and allowing them to explore, meet people, work as a team and experience a different culture we can enhance their education and understanding. By enabling your students – our next generation – to see and experience the world for themselves we can help them become active global citizens. Our Mission is to increase cultural understanding and awareness of global issues within our alumni and to equip our alumni with the knowledge and ability to further contribute towards key global and local issues.”

– Tim, educator

“I can’t thank this organisation enough for helping me grow and giving me an incredible experience I won’t forget.”

– Abagail, student at Endicott College

“After eight weeks of participating in a wide variety of activities as a volunteer, I have learned the value of stepping outside my comfort zone and exploring areas besides animals and science. I used to think my science classes and animal-related extracurriculars at school were sufficient preparation for my future career. Now, I recognize the power of interdisciplinary studies in discerning the connections between seemingly unrelated topics, such as the use of microplastics and marine life conservation. A multidisciplinary approach like this is critical to problem solving in any profession. As such, the refined critical thinking skills and global awareness I acquired this summer will serve me well in the future. I am grateful to GVI for providing the education, resources, and support I needed to learn and grow over the past eight weeks.”

– Emma, student at Duke University

“The students who participated have been thrilled at the amazing results from their efforts!”

– Susan, educator

“I’ve learned more than I ever imagined I would. I most definitely would recommend GVI because the organisation of projects, accommodation and resources were exceptional.”

– Harshel, student at Duke University

To read more testimonials from educators and students, visit our groups testimonials page.

See what other parents & participants say

Read reviews and recommendations from all over the world.

Our ultimate guide to group programs

Group programs brochure

Over the last two decades, GVI has established itself as the world-leader in purpose-driven group expeditions. We have three GVI Expedition itinerary types to choose from that have been carefully developed to meet certain goals and learning outcomes. We’re building a global network of people, united by their passion to make a difference. Find out everything you need to know to start your group adventure.