Language Camp in Costa Rica

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  • Overview

    Spending 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

  • Costs and Inclusions

    2020 Program Cost: 

    • 1 week: $2,030
    • 2 weeks: $3,750
    • 3 weeks: $5,260
    • 4 weeks: $6,930

    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
    • 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 
    • Greenheart Travel T-shirt & Reusable “No Plastic Please” Canvas Tote Bag

    Our Support and Services: 

    • Extensive pre-departure advice and support from Connor, your US-based program coordinator! He 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):

    • Flight to Costa Rica
    • Exit fee for Costa Rica (typically around $29 USD)
    • Spending money for souvenirs or snacks while in Costa Rica

    Payment Details

    • $300 Application Deposit due by the program deadline to formally apply
    • $300 Commitment Deposit due after acceptance within 14 days to save your spot on a certain start date
    • Remaining balance is due 6 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 hometown 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.

  • 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 an 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.

    Therefore, we may not be able to accept students who have struggled with any kind of mental illness 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.

    These include, but are not limited to:

    • Depression
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
    • Debilitating anxiety
    • Eating disorders

    If the student’s mental health issue has been managed (post-medication) for over 2 years, we will ask for a note from his/her relevant practitioner (psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, etc) as part of the application process.

  • Academic 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 morning classes for 50 minutes Monday through Friday in air-conditioned classrooms
    • 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

    Students are picked up from their host families in the morning by a chaperone and taken to the language school. After morning classes, they will participate in included educational visits and excursions. These might include scuba diving, surfing, walking tours or cooking classes. Students receive the schedule 1-2 weeks prior to departure.

    During weeknights, there are a number of planned activities including salsa lessons, roller skating, karaoke, Costa Rican BBQs, game nights, movie nights, and some quality time with host families. On the weekends, students take part in exciting cultural, adventure, and nature tours.

    At the end of the day, students are dropped off at their host family’s house.

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

  • Program Dates

    Students choose between a 1-4 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 below mentioned start dates.

    Program Start Date Location
    June 27, 2020 Manuel Antonio
    July 5, 2020 San Jose
    July 11, 2020 Manuel Antonio
    July 19, 2020 San Jose
    July 25, 2020 Manuel Antonio

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

  • 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 host families around 20-30 minutes from the language school. 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

    Usually two students will share a room and there can be up to 4 students with one host family. They will only share rooms with students of the same sex and will be closely supervised by their hosts.

    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 for Parents

    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 a 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 that is accredited with CSIET, 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 quickly. 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.

    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 they apply with friends?

    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!

    Do you 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.

  • 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.

    Once you start your application, you have two weeks to finish.

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

    2. Start Your Application Here (Approximately 5 Minutes): Greenheart Travel Application.

    3. Sign the Terms & Conditions (Approximately 10 Minutes): After you complete Part 1 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 deposit (Approximately 5 minutes): You will need to submit your $300 deposit at this point in the process. A deposit is required in order to reserve your spot on the program and is subtracted from your total program fee.

    5. Secondary Application Form (Approximately 30 Minutes): This 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 deposit 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 should then expect to receive your Greenheart Travel program handbook via email, 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.

  • Schedule a Call

    Have questions or want to talk to the program coordinator? Set up a time to have a phone call below.


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