Sea Turtle Camp Costa Rica
*Please note that the 2021 Costa Rica Program will be an ALL-GIRLS’ trip!
Sea turtles abound in Costa Rica! With 6 of the world’s 7 species found here, the beaches and waters are full of turtle observing opportunities, and we will take full advantage of this. As a small, intimate-sized group, we travel to the Caribbean Coast during one to the most active green sea turtle nesting aggregations in world, we will assist a long-term research project with nightly beach patrols. Leatherbacks frequently ply these waters, and their nests will be hatching out around this time as well. This exclusive adventure will immerse like-minded teens in the local language, culture and ecology with our team of trained professionals. We will start the trip off with a visit to La Calandria or Pension Santa Elene where we will learn about Costa Rica’s rich culture and natural environment through activities such as hiking the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, learning about the history, tradition, and present-day production of Costa Rican coffee and chocolate, touring the countryside on horseback, and visiting a bat jungle! While here we will also participate in a zip-line tour through the cloud canopy of Monteverde. After departing Monteverde, we will be ferried to our small island community, La Tortuga Feliz, where they will be living the simple life and staying “off-the-grid” in this solar powered community! It is here campers will receive turtle patrol training and then will spend the next week looking for tracks, nests, laying mothers and hatchlings. We will work alongside other volunteers to patrol the beach for sea turtle nests, man a sea turtle hatchery, and participate in the care and study of recuperating adult turtles in the turtle rescue and rehabilitation center. Here, everything is done in shift work and we will be assigned shifts times each day. Shifts run 24 hours a day and campers can be assigned a shift at any time. After departing La Tortuga Feliz, we will go rafting along the Pacuare River. Along the way, we will explore a rain forest ecosystem up close with naturalist led hikes through the rain forest to visit some beautiful waterfalls.
Costa Rica is one of the safest and easiest international travel destinations in the world. It is a sustainable country, with no standing military, that focuses on creating greater equality of wealth among citizens and protecting their natural resources. Over a quarter of the country is set aside for conservation! With a modern international airport in San Jose and well-maintained highways, Costa Rica is very welcoming to tourists. Due to its friendly culture and “rich coastal” natural resources, Costa Rica is rated one of the hottest eco-travel destinations in the world! This program is designed for teenage girls ages 14-17 that are passionate about sea turtle conservation and looking for a tropical adventure abroad. Join us on our next trip as we:
- Receive sea turtle patrol training
- Perform sunrise and nocturnal nest walks
- Collect data on nesting females
- Raft down the Pacuare River
- Hike with a naturalist through the rainforest
- Zip-line through the cloud canopy
- Earn thirty hours of community service credit.
Camp tuition includes: all lodging, meals, 24-hour same gender adult supervision (6:1 camper to staff ratio), shuttle to and from San Jose’s Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO), equipment, daily transportation, t-shirt, activity fees, community service certificate and your team photo. Arrival should be scheduled between 12-3 pm on the first day and departures between 3-6 pm on the last day. Due to the nature of the program, departing flights MUST be after 3 PM on the final day of camp.
2021 Costa Rica Camp Dates:
The biggest things to know currently:
- Travel insurance with COVID coverage is REQUIRED for the duration of your stay.
- All visitors must complete an Online Health Pass 48 hours prior to travel to Costa Rica. Here is a link to the pass:
- COVID-19 testing is required by the United States Government to return to the US at the end of the trip. You camper will need cash in order to pay for their COVID test. Right now testing is estimated to cost around $150 dollars.
Costa Rica supports both rich marine ecosystems and diverse rainforest habitats, and we will have the opportunity to explore each environment while gaining a better understanding of their inhabitants. We provide teenagers with the opportunity to learn more about marine biology through hands-on, feet wet experiential educational. Campers get the extraordinary opportunity to work with live sea turtles as well as participate in some amazing daily activities designed to teach them through experience instead of out of a textbook. During this 14-day adventure we will:
- Volunteer with a sea turtle conservation organization
- Participate in sunrise or nocturnal sea turtle nest spotting walks
- Conduct nighttime sea turtle nest/hatchling watch
- Help collect data on nesting female turtles
- Learn proper beach patrol procedures
- Work in shifts at a hatchery and turtle rehabilitation center
- Participate in whitewater rafting adventure tour along the Pacuare River
- Canopy zip lining through the cloud canopy rainforest
- Take guided nature hikes through the rainforest
- Learn Spanish from native speakers
We will be staying at a mixture of eco-lodges and research stations as we travel through Costa Rica. Students of same gender will be housed together, with each participant having his or her own bed with linens provided. A Sea Turtle Camp staff member will stay on site, providing 24 hour same gender supervision. In Monteverde, we will stay in bunkhouses at the La Calandria or Pension Santa Elene hotel. While doing turtle research on the Caribbean coast, we will be housed at La Tortuga Feliz. This facility is situated on an isolated beach in the jungle that can be reached by boat. The facility operates using solar power and has modern, same gender restroom facilities. While rafting along the Pacuare River we will stay at an eco-lodge right next to the river, giving us the opportunity to see other rafters face the rapids we have recently descended.
Do I get to see real live sea turtles?
- YES!!! We volunteer with La Tortuga Feliz and will have opportunities to work in the rehabilitation center, support the sea turtle hatchery and participate in evening nest patrols.
What kind of community service will I be doing?
- At Sea Turtle Camp service is the most rewarding part of our program, and we like to think of it as service learning. Everything we do at La Tortuga Feliz, from working directly with live sea turtles, cleaning, and feeding sounds more like enjoyment than service, but it is.
Is this program right for me?
- Our Costa Rica Adventure camp is a life-changing experience that is FULL of adventure. We welcome campers who are enthusiastic and open-minded to new experiences. The trip includes unique excursions such as hiking, zip-lining, and white-water rafting. Also, the work conducted at La Tortuga Feliz can be physically demanding as campers will be walking in all weather conditions looking for nesting turtles through shift work. This program is perfect for a teen that is up for an adventure!
Should I bring a friend?
- While most participants come alone, you are welcome to come with a friend.
Can I call home during camp?
- We have all campers check in with their parents upon arrival, but we have limited parental contact for the duration of the camp. Sea Turtle Camp is a growing experience, and we find that young people do best and gain confidence through independence. Campers are NOT allowed to carry cell phones at any time during camp. Any cell phones brought to camp will be collected upon arrival and returned upon departure. Parents will be updated through emails and the many pictures we’ll be posting on Facebook throughout the trip! We will provide an after-hours number to reach the office in the event of an emergency.
How old are the campers I will be rooming with?
- Roommates are grouped together by age in order to enhance the overall level of comfort.
I am a finicky eater. Can you cater to special diets?
- We can accommodate many varieties of food preferences. If you require a special diet, we are happy to work with you to ensure your dietary needs are met. However, as Costa Rica is a field-based, international travel program, we will be unable to cater to severe food allergies.
What do I need to bring?
- A complete packing list will be included with your informational registration packet.
What sort of payment do you accept?
- We accept checks, money orders, or VISA/MC/AMEX credit cards. All credit card payments are processed online using a secure server. There is a $50 service charge for all returned checks. With the exception of the trip deposit, a 3% credit card surcharge will be assessed to all payments made by credit card. Please review our cancellation policy. Deposits are not refundable after acceptance into a program.
What airport is best to fly into for your program, and do you provide a shuttle service?
- You will fly into Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO), where our staff will meet you to start your Costa Rican adventure.
What if I can’t get in by the set check in time?
- Please contact our Program Coordinator to discuss arrivals and departures outside of our preferred times. In order to avoid missing any planned activities, participants should plan to arrive at the airport between 12:00 and 3:00 pm on the first day of camp and depart between 3:00 and 6:00 pm on the last day of camp. Due to the nature of the program, departing flights MUST be after 3 PM on the final day of camp.
What if my luggage doesn’t make it?
- Occasionally the airlines will misplace luggage or your suitcases will miss connecting flights. We recommend keeping essentials, such as medications, toiletries, bathing suit, and extra change of clothes, in their carry-on luggage just in case.
What is your cancellation policy?
- Sea Turtle Camp is an extremely high quality, tight margined program, with limited space. Therefore, once your student has been accepted into the program, exceptions to this policy cannot be made for any reason, including weather or personal emergencies. Please review the terms of our cancellation policy. In order to enroll in camp you must agree to these terms. Our full cancellation policy can be found here.
Do you have insurance?
- We carry a comprehensive insurance package, including general liability.
How much spending money should I bring?
- We recommend campers bring $50 to $75 per week of camp. This is for snacks, souvenirs or gifts you wish to purchase while at camp.