Language & Culture Camp in Costa Rica

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  • Overview

    Spend 15 hours a week in class improving your Spanish language skills with students from around the world while you immerse yourself in the culture of “pura vida.” Greenheart Travel’s language camp in both San Jose and Manuel Antonio Costa Rica is an ideal place to boost your academic resume while exploring the scenic surroundings and welcoming culture of a country that is famous for its hospitality. You’ll live with a host family and have an exciting schedule of daily cultural activities and excursions.

    What do our past participants say about the program?

    My Spanish improved greatly! Now I can hear and understand Spanish when it’s spoken very fast! My speaking still needs improvement but this program gave me the confidence to practice speaking. My favorite excursion was going to the La Paz volcano and waterfalls, which was so beautiful! We saw all sorts of animals that I had only seen in books. The culture in Costa Rica was so easy going, we constantly heard the phrase, “Pura Vida” meaning pure life. I would recommend this trip to any and all high school students interested in Spanish and the Costa Rican culture! — Sierra Meeker, Costa Rica summer camp alum

  • Eligibility

    • Must be between 13 – 17 years old
    • Beginners welcome!
    • Be in good mental* and physical health
    • Have a genuine interest in learning Spanish and immersing yourself in the culture

    *What does it mean to be in good mental health?

    Moving to a new culture and staying in unfamiliar surroundings without your normal support structure can be very stressful, even to a well-adjusted student. Sending a student with pre-existing conditions on a long-term exchange program could exacerbate whatever challenges the student was previously facing. In order to ensure the safety of our participants, we must be rigorous in our pre-screening of all high school abroad applicants.

    Therefore, we may not be able to accept students who have struggled with any kind of mental illness, specifically within the last 2 years and/or are reliant on medication to address their existing mental health condition. Each student will be addressed on a case by case basis and ultimately it is Greenheart Travel’s in-country partner who holds the right to accept or decline a student based on their individual policy.

    These include, but are not limited to:

    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
    • Eating disorders
    • Chronic debilitating migraines
    • Bipolar Disorder

    All students who currently experience one or more of these conditions will be required to submit an addendum to the terms and conditions as well as a letter of support from their current mental health specialist. If the student’s mental health issue has been managed (post-medication) for over 2 years, we will still require a note from his/her relevant practitioner (psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, etc) as part of the application process. We encourage you to discuss your specific situation with us directly before securing these documents.

  • Costs and Inclusions

    2024 Program Costs: 

    • 1 week: $2,610
    • 2 weeks: $4,380
    • 3 weeks: $6,520

    Please note, all prices are listed in USD.

    Packaged into the Price:

    • 15 hours of language classes per week
    • Airport pickup and drop-off upon arrival and departure
    • Host family accommodation
    • 3 meals per day
    • Comprehensive medical/accident insurance
    • Fully chaperoned daily cultural activities & excursions
    • Language level placement test & Spanish books and materials
    • Daily transportation to/from the host family
    • Entrance fees to select excursions
    • Chaperones 24/7; 8:1 student to chaperone ratio
    • Arrival orientation and walking tour
    • Comprehensive program handbook with cross-cultural communication training and Costa Rican culture tips
    • Certificate of completion at the end of the program for use on college applications
    • Access to Greenheart Travel Facebook groups to connect with alumni and others on your start date ahead of your program.
    • Greenheart Atlas Program 

    Our Support and Services: 

    • Extensive pre-departure advice and support from your US-based program coordinator! We will be with you from your first inquiry, all the way through preparing to leave and your arrival in Costa Rica.
    • Support services from in-country staff upon arrival to Costa Rica.
    • Online pre-departure cultural and logistical orientation before you leave
    • 24-hour in-country and emergency support for the duration of the program, including 24-hour emergency phone numbers to reach a program manager at any time.

    Additional Expenses to Budget for (Estimates):

    • Flights to/from Costa Rica
    • Spending money for souvenirs or snacks while in Costa Rica

    Payment Details

    • $300 Application Fee due by the program deadline to formally apply
    • $300 Commitment Payment due after acceptance within 14 days to save your spot on a certain start date
    • Remaining balance is due 8 weeks before departure to Costa Rica 

    Worried about the program fee?

    Our goal is to help make travel accessible to everyone and we are here to help when you are deciding if this experience is financially do-able. Each year we offer scholarships for high school study abroad students! We also have a guide to fundraising your program fee, and many high school students fundraise in their hometowns ahead of their program.

    We also offer discounts for applying early (plus there are many other benefits to applying early!) for each start date and for US families that have hosted an exchange student with Greenheart Exchange.

    Please inquire here if you have questions about the program fee, scholarships, or fundraising for your program.

  • Program Dates

    Summer 2024 Program Dates*:

    *We will not be accepting applications less than a month before a program start date.

    Start Date Starting Location Program Duration
    June 29, 2024 Manuel Antonio 1, 2, or 3 weeks
    July 7, 2024 San Jose 1 or 2 weeks
    July 13, 2024 Manuel Antonio 1 week

    Students choose between a 1-3 week program. The program alternates between San Jose (city) and Manual Antonio (beach) each week to give students a deeper understanding of the country. All classes begin the Monday after the above mentioned start dates.

    *If you choose to do the 3 week program, some activities will be repeated on week 3 that you participate in during week 1. 

    Looking for a longer academic experience? Check out our high school abroad in Costa Rica program!

  • Classes & School Info

    Spanish students will have the chance to test into one of three different levels — Elementary, Intermediate, or Advanced. Each level is then divided up into two sub-levels depending on your linguistic skills. You will be given an admissions test on your first day to evaluate your skills and place you in the proper level.

    Spanish Courses

    • 3 afternoon classes for 50 minutes Monday through Friday in air-conditioned classrooms. Classes normally run from 2pm-5pm
    • Classes are taught by native Spanish teachers who specialize in teaching Spanish as a foreign language
    • Dynamic and interactive educational methods integrate the use of magazines, cds, discussions on current affairs, surveys, and presentations into the lesson plans
    • You should take a Spanish/English dictionary, notebook, and pencil for class but your school will provide all books and workbooks
    • Students receive a Certificate of Completion at the end of the course

    School Locations and Classrooms:

    This summer camp is unique because students may get the opportunity to experience two distinct environments in Costa Rica– the bustling San Jose and the pristine Manuel Antonio. We have schools in both locations, and depending on the weeks that you enroll, you may visit one or both of the locations! The San Jose school is centrally located in the city (see map below) and serves as a perfect jumping-off point for exploring Costa Rica’s cultural and historical capital city. In contrast, the Manuel Antonio school is in Quepos, a small coastal village right on the beach! The location includes easy access to the Manuel Antonio National Park, which is Costa Rica’s largest protected rainforest. The schools both have WiFi and computer labs with internet access for student use.

  • Your Day to Day

    Every day, Spanish campers immerse themselves in the Spanish language while participating in a variety of activities and events around the capital city of San Jose and the beach towns of Manuel Antonio and Quepos. Monday through Friday, they eat breakfast prior to being picked up in private transportation and taken to participate in the daily activity or tour until 1:00PM. The students eat lunch between 1-2PM. Spanish classes run from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM daily.

    The evening is wrapped up with another group activity and then the students are transported back to their host family to eat dinner.

    During weeknights, planned activities include salsa lessons, bonfires, karaoke, Costa Rican BBQs, game nights, movie nights, as well as quality time and Spanish language practice with their host family. On weekends, students take part in exciting cultural adventures and nature tours led by professional guides and chaperones. Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse travel destinations on the planet and Spanish Camp never disappoints!

    Please note: Participants are not allowed to go out on their own unless accompanied by a chaperone or host parent.

  • Arrival & Departure

    All students fly on their own to Costa Rica. A representative from the language school will pick them up and take them to their host family.

    Students with their start date location in San Jose should:

    • Arrive at the Juan Santamaria International Airport the Sunday before classes start before 4:00pm
    • Depart from the Juan Santamaria International Airport the Sunday after their last class after 1:00pm

    Students with their start date location in Manuel Antonio should:

    • Arrive at the Juan Santamaria International Airport the Saturday before 4:00pm before Monday classes start
    • Depart from the Juan Santamaria International Airport the Sunday after their last class after 1:00pm

    Arriving or departing outside these designated windows will incur additional fees.

  • Host Families

    All students live with carefully selected local, middle-class host families who live around 20-30 minutes from the language school. Accommodations at the homes include shared rooms with 1-2 other campers of the same gender and similar age. In the family stay, breakfast and dinner are included every day, and lunches are catered at the institute each day after Spanish class.

    Prospective host families undergo a rigorous screening process. Participants can rest assured that only suitable host families will be selected. In order to qualify as a host family, the prospective hosts must:

    • Successfully pass a criminal background check
    • Undergo and pass an in-person interview with program staff
    • Agree to and pass a home inspection

    On weekend overnight tours, students stay at hotels with 1-2 other fellow campers of the same gender and similar age. Chaperones also stay at the hotel. All rooms tend to be simple, but comfortable. Private rooms are available on request.

    What do our alumni say about their homestays?

    I loved my host family, I’d definitely recommend that over a residence program. Our host mom would cook our meals and talk with us about our families and our countries, so we got to know them very well” – Allegra, Greenheart Travel Summer Language Camp Alumn

  • FAQs

    How much supervision is there?

    Students are supervised and chaperoned at all times. Students are never allowed to leave the school grounds or residence without being accompanied by a chaperone. They are picked up and dropped off at their host family daily.

    Should my child fly using an unaccompanied minor service?

    Greenheart Travel does not recommend this service because the “additional” services advertised by the airlines are already provided to all travelers and are not worth the money invested by you the traveler. At any time, a student can ask an airlines professional for help finding their gate or for connecting flight information, and paying for this add-on UM service is not necessary. We have sent hundreds of semester abroad students internationally, for whom we book their flights, and we never use unaccompanied minor services. If you would like the peace of mind an UM service provides, Greenheart Travel offers more self-empowering alternatives (such as reviewing airport maps, mapping connections, etc) that we believe teach teenagers relevant life skills about traveling independently.

    Will my child earn high school credit?

    Greenheart Travel cannot award high school credit. Please talk to your school about earning credit for your child’s time abroad. Refer to this blog post for tips on transferring credit.

    How many other students will there be and where are they from?

    A majority of our students are American between 14-17 years old. However, there are students participating from around the world, so your child will have a cross-cultural setting both in the classroom and out. While the number of students does vary by start date, we like to keep small classes with no more than 8 students.

    Will my child be required to speak the language outside of the classroom?

    Language practice and immersion are the main priority of this program. While we do not require the students to sign a contract stating they will only speak in the local language, it is highly encouraged that they use their language skills when talking to friends, partaking in the daily excursions and at night in the residence hall or host family home. Program staff and chaperones primarily communicate and answer questions in the local language to encourage this immersion culture.

    How will this program improve my child’s Spanish skills?

    In a traditional classroom, students may learn language skills; however, they are not forced to practice these skills in real world situations. Through language immersion, your child will both learn the practical language skills in a classroom while also being forced to use them with local, native speakers during the excursions and/or host family experience. Studies show that 4 weeks of a full language immersion experience can be equivalent to a yearlong college language course because of the intensity of use.

    Why should I choose Greenheart Travel?

    Greenheart Travel provides 24-hour support to you and your child throughout the application, program and alumni processes. We are a small staffed non-profit, so you know you’ll always be talking to a real person on the other line. We are proud to always be available for your questions and concerns and we always answer our emails and phone calls as quickly as possible. We pride ourselves on developing a personal relationship with our participants, and love staying connected with them throughout the experience on social media & email. We offer the personal connection and support that many of our competitors do not.

    What is the climate like?

    Costa Rica is usually warm, although climates vary depending on altitude and location within the country. There are basically two seasons, the rainy season and the dry season. The dry season generally runs from January to May and the rainy season goes from May/April to November/December. Even during the dry season there is a chance of rain every day, so be prepared for humidity!

    What are meals like?

    Get ready for lots of rice and beans! Fresh fruit is everywhere and really delicious, and meats consist of chicken, fish, pork, or beef. Your host family will provide you with 3 meals per day. Meal times and portions could be different than what you’re used to, as many ticos eat a larger breakfast/lunch and then have a small dinner. You’ll receive lots more cultural information in your program handbook once you’re accepted.

    What if my child has an allergy/specific dietary requirement?

    We can cater to vegetarian needs quite easily. Any other specific diets should be discussed with us to see if we can arrange to have your needs met. In some cases you may need to provide your own food.

    Do students need vaccines/shots?

    Greenheart Travel strongly recommends that all program participants be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before arriving to their destination country. If you will not be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the start of your program, please contact a Program Manager to confirm that your destination country will accept non-vaccinated participants.

    What happens if they get sick while abroad?

    You will be covered by mandatory health insurance. You will receive a policy brochure and insurance card via email 1-2 weeks prior to your departure, as well as supplementary materials in your child’s comprehensive program handbook.

    Can friends apply together?

    Absolutely! We are happy to accept friends and groups. If both your child and their friend go together, each of them will receive a discount! However, keep in mind your primary purpose of attending this program is to immerse themselves in the language and culture – so make sure your child and their friend commit to speaking Spanish!

    Does Greenheart accept groups?

    Absolutely! If you are an educator who would like to organize a group trip, please inquire here to speak about dates, pricing, and special requests.

    After I complete my program, how can I continue studying Spanish?

    A great next step is attending a Spanish-speaking high school at one of our many Spanish-speaking High School Abroad locations:


    Costa Rica


    Are flights included?

    Flights not included in the program fee. Students are responsible for booking their round-trip airfare to Costa Rica. We will collect your itinerary to organize your arrival and airport pickup.

    Can I speak to current students or alumni?

    Yes! Check out our blog or you can join our exclusive teen programs Facebook group to talk to current and past students.

    We also have a list of mentors (teens and parents) that are past participants open to chatting about their experience with potential new participants. Please inquire here if you want to be put in touch with a mentor.

  • Application Process

    Committing to a language camp program can feel a bit daunting, but we are here every step of the way to make the application process as simple as possible. Below are the steps you’ll need to take to be accepted on a Greenheart Travel program.

    1. Ensure Your Eligibility: The eligibility requirements, such as age or language proficiency, may be required for certain destinations.

    2. Start Your Application HereYou will be sent more information as well as the link to our application portal to begin your formal application. You’ll be able to save your progress along the way.

    3. Sign the Terms & Conditions: After you complete the first part of your application, you (and your parent(s) if you’re under 18) will be asked to read through and sign our Terms and Conditions which outline the requirements and policies of the program

    4. Submit your application fee: You will need to submit your $300 application fee at this point in the process. This is required in order to reserve your spot on the program and is subtracted from your total program fee.

    5. In-Depth QuestionnaireThis is the most in-depth part of the application process as it helps us get to know you better. You will need to provide detailed information about yourself, why you want to go abroad, and what you hope to gain from your experience. You will also need to upload your passport.

    6. Acceptance: Greenheart Travel will thoroughly review your application and will contact you within 1-2 weeks to confirm your acceptance. If we find something in your application that we have concerns about, we will let you know immediately. 95% of applicants are accepted on the program they apply for.

    You’re Accepted – now what?

    Your program manager will be in touch with you directly about your acceptance. At this point you will be required to submit a second $300 commitment payment that also goes towards the total amount (it’s not extra). This is your commitment to your start date and once we receive it is when details will start to be booked on your behalf.

    You’ll then be able to download program handbook from the portal, which talks more about your program, as well as supplemental information about dealing with culture shock and our insurance program. We will also schedule an online pre-departure orientation to answer any lingering questions you may have. You can expect to receive your host family placement 1-2 weeks prior to your start date.

  • Why Greenheart Travel?

    Greenheart Travel has been working with high schoolers for many years, and there are advantages of applying for this program through us:

    • 33 years of experience with cultural exchange programs
    • Friendly, responsive, and professional support from your program manager.
    • Connect with alumni and others on the program via our Greenheart Travel only Facebook forums, before you even leave!
    • We try and make our program fees as inclusive as we can. We include things like medical insurance so you don’t run into any hidden fees down the line.
    • Greenheart Atlas Program. The Greenheart Travel Atlas is a cultural training interactive guidebook alongside five videos where you will find three main topics covered: Personal/Professional Development, Cultural Understanding, & Environmental Awareness.
    • Our alumni recommend us! GoOverseas.com Reviews // GoAbroad.com Reviews
    • Hands-on support and personal attention every step of the way
    • 24/7 emergency phone number to reach a staff member at any time
    • Pre-departure “Culture Shock and Adjustment” Webinar before you leave
    • Discounts for future Greenheart Travel programs
    • We are a non-profit, mission-based organization
    • Continued support throughout your time abroad

    We also have some unique offerings to our Greenheart Travel students and alumni!

    Greenheart Global Impact Grants (GIGs)

    Greenheart GIG Grants are funds awarded to Greenheart Travel participants to use for community development projects in their host or home country. A GIG is the opportunity to create, improve, or maintain an impactful, community-focused project abroad or at home. Grant funds could be applied to supporting women’s cooperatives, schools, community centers, or health clinics, for example. Grant winners will be featured on our website, social media, and blog. You can see our past winners on our blog here.

    Greenheart Alumni Program

    We created the Greenheart Travel Alumni Program to provide resources and a community to support alumni in their advancement as global leaders, and a way to celebrate and reward our participants for being ambitious, inspiring catalysts of cultural exchange!

    Junior Greenheart Global Leaders Conference

    Each May Greenheart offers full-ride scholarships to around 10 teen alumni to attend our annual conference in Chicago. You can see more about what Jr. GGLC is and what you could do at the conference here.

  • Schedule a Call

    Have questions and want to chat with a program advisor? Set up a time here:

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