Sea Turtle Camp Costa Rica
2024 Schedule Coming Soon!
*Please note that the 2024 Costa Rica Program will be an ALL-GIRLS trip!
With 6 of the world’s 7 species found in Costa Rica, 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 of the most active green sea turtle nesting aggregations in the 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. This program is for the adventurous teen who is not afraid to get down and dirty!
We will start the trip off with a visit to La Calandria 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 at the wildlife refuge, Laguna Urpiano, 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 program. 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 Laguna Urpiano, 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 rising 10th-12th grade girls who 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
**Please note that all activities are subject to change without notice**
Camp tuition includes all lodging, all meals from dinner on the first day to breakfast on the last day, 24-hour access to camp staff, admission to all activities, all equipment, and transportation including pick up and drop off from the San Jose’s Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO), t-shirt, rashguard, Sea Turtle Hospital donation, community service certificate and your team photo. Arrival should be scheduled between 12-3 PM on the first day and departures between 12-5 PMon the last day. Due to the nature of the program, departing flights MUST be after 12 PM on the final day of camp.
2024 Costa Rica Camp Dates:
As of April 1, 2022 the Republic of Costa Rica has lifted all travel rules related to COVID-19.
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 its inhabitants. We provide teenagers with the opportunity to learn more about marine biology through hands-on, feet-wet experiential education. 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 adventure, we will:
- Volunteer with a sea turtle conservation organization
- Participate in a 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 a whitewater rafting adventure tour along the Pacuare River
- Canopy zip lining through the cloud canopy rainforest
- Take guided nature hikes through the rainforest
* * Schedule is subject to change. Please keep in mind that we try our best to adhere to this schedule but we cannot control Mother Nature, in the event of adverse weather, we have rainy-day activities in place. We cannot control canceled vendors. We will try our best to incorporate what was missed in later days, but it does not always fit into our schedule **
We will be staying at a mixture of eco-lodges and research stations as we travel through Costa Rica. Students of the 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 Elena hotel. While doing turtle research on the Caribbean coast, we will be housed at Laguna Urpiano. 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 very simple, living, restroom, and shower 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I get to see real live sea turtles?
YES!!! We work very closely with the native sea turtles of the eastern coast of Costa Rica. Mother sea turtles nest on the same beaches we will be staying on. It is very possible to see a nesting sea turtle during a night patrol and it is also very likely to see a sea turtle nest hatch!!
I am a finicky eater. Can you cater to special diets?
Yes, we can. We know how important it is to eat healthy meals when you are outside and at the moving around all day long. We’ll ask you in a questionnaire about any dietary restrictions or allergies. Campers are provided with three hearty meals every day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served daily and we will also have plenty opportunities to grab snacks throughout the trip. We will go out to eat for lunches and dinners to several authentic Costa Rican restaurants as well. Vegetarian meals are available.
The Costa Rica Adventure Program caters to campers who relish adventure and physical activity. This program is filled with various physically demanding activities, including hiking, guided tours, and a plethora of exciting adventures throughout the trip. During our stay at Laguna Urpiano, we engage in volunteer work that includes extended night beach patrols, beach cleanups, and the removal of invasive plant species. We take pride in our dedicated volunteer efforts in this area. Towards the conclusion of the trip, campers will have the exhilarating experience of white-water rafting on the Pacuare River, requiring group paddling efforts.
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.
Is my camper allowed to bring electronic devices?
At Sea Turtle Camp, we promote immersive, hands-on learning experiences that are free from electronic distractions. While campers are allowed to bring cell phones and electronic devices for their arrival and departure days, once they have checked in with their parents/guardians and settled into camp, all electronic devices must be surrendered to our camp staff. These devices will be securely stored throughout the duration of the trip. It’s important to note that if any electronic device is discovered in a camper’s possession after the initial handover, it will be confiscated, and appropriate measures will be taken. However, we do permit campers to bring MP3 players and e-books. Please be aware that any device capable of connecting to Wi-Fi is not allowed.
Should I bring a friend?
While most participants come alone, you are welcome to come with a friend. Please indicate if you would like to room with someone specific.
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 the Laguna Urpiano, from working directly with live nesting mother sea turtles to collecting data on juvenile sea turtles, examining hatched turtle nests, completing night patrols for nesting turtles, overnight hatchery watches, invasive plant species removal and beach cleanups sounds more like enjoyment than service, but it is all service that will benefit the turtle species!
Does my child need to know how to swim to be able to attend this program?
Yes. Due to the nature of this program, all campers must be able to swim and have a basic level of comfort in the water.
“Our 15-year-old daughter joined the girls-only Costa Rica trip. She had trepidation about two weeks in the wilderness with 11 girls she did not know and NO CELL PHONE… but it was a life-changing experience. The girls learned so much, saw so much, and bonded so hard I would not be surprised if some of them are friends for life. It was truly an exceptional experience.”
“My daughter had the most amazing experience. This was 100% hands on. Completely professional. Amazing! Caring, compassionate staff helped her when she felt home sick one night. Great food, clean accommodations with an amazing view. She made friends and loved every second. She is planning her trip next year to Costa Rica already!“
“What can I say – my son swam in waterfalls, hiked the rainforest, saw hatchlings almost every day of the trip, watched a green sea turtle lay her eggs, made friends for life, and did I mention he survived without his cell phone for two whole weeks and said he would go back in a heartbeat! Thank you Sea Turtle Camp – I didn’t think that was possible!“