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Five of the best volunteer programs for high school students

The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.

Spend your high school vacation doing something worth talking about when school starts again. Start by picking one of the best volunteer programs for high school students.

Volunteering during high school is one of the best decisions you can make. GVI’s teen volunteer programs combine hands-on volunteering in local communities with time spent visiting the surrounding areas and making friends for life.

Alongside the valuable work done on teen volunteer programs, there’s also the chance to learn about different cultures and languages, train in new skills, and take part in supervised adventure activities.

There are programs to suit everybody’s interests, in locations across the world.

Here are GVI ’s top five picks for the best volunteer abroad programs for high school students.

1) Rainforest conservation in Costa Rica

Teen volunteers on GVI's rainforest conservation program in Costa Rica


Collecting data about local animals and sharing knowledge about wildlife protection are both key parts of the rainforest conservation program in Costa Rica.

This program makes the list because of the sheer diversity of wildlife that GVI’s teen volunteers are exposed to. If studying all types of animals, from the sea turtle to the jaguar, is something that excites you, then this is the right program for you.

Living south of Tortuguero National Park, teen volunteers on this program play a pivotal role in the research that goes into conserving the sublime natural spaces of this Central American country.


Volunteer opportunities for teens often include plenty of opportunities to be adventurous


Studying Spanish in high school? Then a teen volunteer program in Costa Rica is the ideal way to spend your vacation. 

On top of an incredibly rewarding volunteer experience, you’ll also have the chance to practise your Spanish language skills with native speakers in the community where you’ll work.

There’ll be no need to worry about forgetting your Spanish knowledge after the summer break – because you’ll have improved your Spanish astronomically!

2) Himalaya trek and Nepali immersion

Teen hikers walking through an arch on a hiking trail in Nepal.


The city of Pokhara is situated in Nepal and is the gateway to the well-known Himalaya mountain range. And GVI happens to have a volunteer hub right in this location.

On this program, you’ll assist with community-led projects aimed at building on the health and safety standards of educational facilities in Pokhara.

You’ll also learn about responsible and ethical practices in community development around the world. This will teach you valuable life skills about how to respect and work with people from different walks of life.

On your trip, you may also get to visit Samrakshak Samuha Nepal (SASANE), an organisation that works with survivors of human trafficking. 

You’ll have the chance to attend a cooking class with the women at the organisation and learn to make a traditional Nepali dumpling, called a momo. Imagine cooking that for your family at home?

Nepal has many Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries that you’ll also get to visit. This means you’ll have lots of opportunities to learn more about Nepali cultures first-hand.

And finally, you’ll get to trek the Himalayas with your fellow volunteers and program leaders. This adventure will allow you to stop off and sleep overnight at the Nepali tea houses situated along the trail. This is another chance to learn more about different aspects of Nepali culture.

3) Cultural immersion in Thailand

Volunteer in Phang Nga Thailand with other U18s.


Volunteering in Thailand has lots of variety. The volunteer opportunities for teens at GVI’s Phang Nga base gives under 18s the chance to take part in sea turtle conservation activities at a turtle nursery run by the Thai Royal Navy.

Adding to the health of Phang Nga’s environment by clearing pollution is also an important part of what this program is about. 

And once the volunteering work is done, GVI teen volunteers in Thailand get to trek through a tropical jungle and take part in chaperoned adventure activities like kayaking across a mangrove forest, or swimming in natural pools that are fed by waterfalls. 

4) Seaside conservation in Seychelles

Teens volunteering abroad during high school on this Seychelles turtle conservation program

GVI volunteers measuring a mother sea turtle’s shell during nesting.


Volunteer in wildlife conservation in the island nation of Seychelles

Do you know anyone else who’ll be able to say, once school starts again, that they spent their vacation on the beach, helping to protect endangered species of flora and fauna?

This teen volunteer program is ideal for anybody under 18 looking to make a positive impact while spending time in a serene setting.

The program entails collecting data through beach profiling surveys, studying the reproductivity of the coco de mer palm tree, and assisting with the annual census of the Aldabra giant tortoise population.

If you’re interested in going into wildlife conservation in the future, then this teen volunteering opportunity is perfect for you. 

Your resume will be greatly improved by this experience, and college admissions officers will likely be impressed by the fact that you already have experience in the field in which you’re applying to study.

5) Sustainable development in Ghana

Teen volunteer programs offer under 18s the opportunity to immerse themselves in a new culture they may have never experienced before


Work alongside local initiatives to add to the access local people have to education and educational equality in the town of Kokrobite, 15 kilometres from the capital city of Accra.

The teen cultural immersion project in Ghana is one of the best volunteer abroad programs for high school students: combining self-development and reflection with supporting the local people as they empower themselves. 

Put this in the spectacular location of Kokrobite, and you have one of the most exciting and rewarding teen volunteer programs available.

GVI’s volunteer opportunities for teens present young people with a wide array of new skills to learn, and a chance to develop the ones they already have.


Volunteer programs for high school students in Ghana can be a great experience for teenagers

Original image: National Colors by Yenkassa is licenced under CC BY-SA 2.0


If learning new languages gets you excited, then volunteering in Ghana is the way to go. 

Fante and Twi are two of the most commonly spoken  of Ghana’s 79 dialects, and you’ll have the opportunity to learn these languages and practise them with native speakers. 

There really is no better way to improve on your language skills than to engage in conversation  with the people who speak it. 

Another perk of this program is the chance to earn a certificate from the University of Richmond for completing GVI’s online course in leadership. This qualification shows that you’re ready to make your start as a future leader in sustainable development.

On your days off from volunteering, you might have the chance to take a group tour of the nearby national parks or a day trip around Kokrobite to try out food from the local markets.

Info for parents and guardians

Teen volunteer program


Your folks might think that sending their child to volunteer abroad is daunting, but you can reassure them that it’s one of the best opportunities they could provide.

The benefits of volunteering during high school are huge, from improving independence to learning a new language, and deciding on a career path for the future. 

GVI strives to make sure that every one of our volunteers under 18 comes out of their chosen program with enhanced knowledge, wisdom and a better understanding of themselves.

GVI’s volunteer programs for under 18s are closely supervised by trained and vetted GVI staff to ensure that participants are safe and happy at all times. The programs follow a set schedule with a variety of chaperoned activities planned during volunteering, and in free time.

This supervision ensures that teen volunteers truly get the most out of their time volunteering during high school, while remaining safe at all times.

For more information for parents or guardians of a teen thinking about volunteering abroad, take a look at our Parent Information Pack or contact our support staff.

Are you ready to have the time of your life volunteering abroad during high school? Check out our array of programs for high school students to find out more.

To see the Spanish version of the blog on Travolucion, click here: 5 voluntariados para estudiantes de secundaria