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Greece Coastal Conservation Global Citizens

Explore the beauty and culture of Greece as groups work to support coastal conservation projects.

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Program information

Join GVI and discover Greece, a country with diverse landscapes and ancient history. From exotic islands and white beaches to snow-capped mountains, Greece has it all. Travel with your teammates to the island of Kefalonia, on the western coast of Greece. Found in the Ionian Sea this island is known for its beautiful beaches and picturesque towns. Your project will involve conserving endangered loggerhead turtles that nest along the white sandy beaches.

The program will be a combination of exploring the culture, politics, and history of Greece whilst also completing volunteer work, interacting with local community members, and participating in adventure and cultural activities. Free time and optional excursions will be built into the schedule, depending on the school’s wishes.

Overview
Itinerary
What's Included
Parent Info
Support & Safety
Your Impact
Our Ethics
Program ethics
Speak to alumni

Program overview

There will be three components to this trip which will include adventure, project work and immersion in the culture whilst having fun exploring Greece. The project component is based in Kefalonia, an island, where students will live and work to conserve and protect one of the most important loggerhead turtle nesting areas in Greece.

The team will record nesting activity by conducting daily morning and night surveys (depending on nesting activity) and protect turtle nests against predation by mammals and inundation by seawater. The team will also provide important conservation information to overseas visitors and the local community.

The adventure components available include a 4 day hike summiting Mount Olympus, participating in a hike and white water rafting combination or take part in a 4 day sea kayaking adventure. All of these options comply with the requirements for the International Awards Residential and Adventurous journey components. GVI has successfully been operating ethical and responsible programs in Greece since 2012.

This program has been specially designed for school groups. Throughout this program, students will have 24/7 supervision, training, and world-class leaders in the field who have been chosen for their mix of relevant experience and ability to mentor and inspire young adults.

It’s not all hard work, as there will also be time to enjoy some cultural activities in the surrounding areas of this large and diverse island.

*This overview is an example of the activities and project work that students might get involved in on this program. More specific details of the program are finalised several months before each start date and can be discussed further with your GVI Programme Coordinator. The overview shown here has been followed by our staff and student groups in the past.

Choose your bespoke itinerary

Select one of three expedition types where the activities are customised to meet your group’s specific goals.
Impact expeditions
Advanced activities
Communication skills
Emotional intelligence
Conservation initiatives
Community projects
Most Popular
Challenger expeditions
Comprehensive activities
Leadership skills
Teamwork
Self-awareness
Resilience
Explorer expeditions
Exciting activities
Self-confidence
Cultural sensitivity
Positive mental health
Teamwork

Program details

Itinerary

The following itinerary is an example of the activities and project work that participants might get involved in on this program. More specific details of the program are finalised several months before each start date.

Day 1

Welcome to sunny Greece. After a long flight, a GVI staff member will be waiting for you at the airport and will travel with you to your overnight accommodation. Then it is time to catch up on some rest.

Day 2

Wake up to the sights and sounds of the capital, Athens. Vibrant and modern, Athens is also known as the birthplace of western civilization and home to some of the world’s most important archaeological sites. Make the most of your limited time in this ancient city.

Day 3

Today you will explore the Ionian Islands, famous for their pristine beaches of golden sand and turquoise waters. You will travel to Lefkada Island and spend the first night in a guesthouse in Nydri.

Day 4

This is day one of a 4-day kayaking experience. Expect to be swimming with dolphins in the Mediterranean and wild camping on secluded islands that boast lush green forests and seas teeming with wildlife.

Day 5

As you enjoy the sweeping pace of kayaking you’ll be able to see expanses of endless olive groves, pine and fir forests that are home to a wide diversity of flora and fauna in this mild and pleasant climate.

Day 6

While out on the water you will have the chance to see a diverse array of marine species such as sea turtles, dolphins and rare sea birds. You might visit well-hidden sea caves, swim in calm crystal blue waters and explore the seabed with snorkelling gear.

Day 7

On the final day of your kayaking adventure you will launch onto the water for the last tour of these beautiful islands and enjoy the tranquil peace of gliding through the water, and so comes to an end this is the ultimate sea adventure.

Day 8

Today you’ll travel to Kefalonia. Once on base you’ll Get familiar with our Mediterranean research camp and complete some training that will get you ready for monitoring endangered loggerhead sea turtles.

Day 9

Now that you have completed your training, as a group you’ll also go through your upcoming daily research schedule, clarifying everyone's roles and responsibilities during the trip. Armed with this information you will be prepared to start protecting one of the most important loggerhead turtle nesting areas in Greece.

Day 10

Wake up bright and early to walk the beaches in search of sea turtle nests and help with nest protection. After a siesta, spend the afternoon taking part in a beach clean, collecting plastic and other litter.

Day 11

Spend the morning helping protect turtle nests by building barriers to predation. In the afternoon, enjoy some free time on the beach or take a stroll to the nearby village.

Day 12

Today you will be supporting the local community by participating in a variety of ongoing activities including beach cleans or plastic pollution demonstrations. In the evenings, you might assist with tagging mother sea turtles.

Day 13

It's now time to explore a bit more of Greece, you’ll start by taking a trip to Kyparissia, a beautiful town on the edge of the Ionian Sea. Enjoy the sandy beaches, explore the narrow streets of the old town, and admire the ancient architecture.

Day 14

Today you’ll take a bus to visit the ruins at Olympia, an ancient town where the original Olympic Games took place. Your team can take part in a Greek cooking class, visit iconic monuments or decide to stay on the coast and relax on the beach.

Day 15

Time to head back to Athens for your return trip. Cram everything back into your rucksack and set off for the capital city. No doubt you’ll be bursting with stories and cherished moments to share with your favourite people back home.

Day 16

Departure day. You’ll be transferred to the airport by a GVI staff member. Reflect on the people you met from around the world that, like you, are working towards protecting endangered species.

What’s included?

What's included
General
Groups
A rest and relaxation activity/excursion
24/7 backup and support
A dedicated trip co-ordinator
Access to local medical facilities
Comprehensive health and safety procedures (Emergency Action Plans and Risk Assessments)
First aid equipment
All meals
Group leader and teacher
Highly experienced and well qualified GVI field staff
In-country transport is arranged
Pre-departure information
Up-to-date safety and country information
What's excluded
Not included
Groups
Pre-departure withdrawal insurance
Travel insurance - unless otherwise stipulated
Medical insurance - unless otherwise stipulated (medical aid details will need to be provided)
Flights - unless otherwise stipulated
Personal kit
Visas
Vaccinations
Additional spending money

Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

GVI is a proud member of the Gap Year Association.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.

Safety

View support and safety protocols

Support

View risk mitigation

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Your Impact

All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to be an active global citizen after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Our sea turtle and marine conservation program in Argostoli focuses on science-based research and conservation efforts in collaboration with local and national authorities on the island.

We work to safeguard the loggerhead sea turtles and their breeding sites and green turtles and their foraging sites along the coast of Greece. This is done by protecting nests, monitoring turtle activity, collecting data, excavating nests and monitoring seagrass and surveying to record changes. During these activities, you’ll have the opportunity to share your knowledge with international tourists and members of the local community – assisting with developing the awareness of sea turtles.

We assist in the conservation of endangered sea turtles and address many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, Goal 13: Climate Action, Goal 14: Life Below Water and Goal 15: Life on Land.

Project objectives

 

GVI Argostoli, Kefalonia Long-term Objectives:

1. Support our partners in documenting nesting activities for a loggerhead nesting site in the Mediterranean. This can provide evidence of the importance of continued protection of this endangered species and its ecosystem.

2. Support our partners in carrying out seagrass surveys to monitor green turtle foraging areas in the Mediterranean.This can provide evidence of the importance of continued protection of this endangered species and its ecosystem.

3. Contribute to the efforts of our local partner organisations to protect marine animals in Kefalonia.

4. Reduce the amount of plastic pollution in the turtles’ nesting area.

5. Educate participants on environmentally sustainable practices and the importance and impact of climate change.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.

 

We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.

Our 10 ethical commitments

01

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.

02

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.

03

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.

04

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.

05

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.

06

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that every participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.

07

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.

08

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.

09

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.

10

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.

Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.

However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.

Program ethics

No orphanage programs

We don’t support or allow participants to work in institutional residential care facilities, also known as orphanages. We partner with ReThink Orphanages and Freedom United.

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Child and vulnerable adult protection policy

Our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy requires all our staff and participants to complete a criminal background check and to learn why you shouldn’t reveal a child’s identifying factors in photographs. We support the ChildSafe Movement.

Learn more
No medical volunteering

We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.

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No disability support programs

We don’t offer any programs where our participants work directly with people with disabilities. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country.

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Aligned to local objectives

Each one of our initiatives is aligned to objectives set by a local organisation or professional. Our staff and participants work to support these local actors in achieving their specific goals.

Local employees remain employed

Our participants don’t replace the staff employed by local organisations. Rather, they support currently employed staff with achieving their objectives. Our goal is always to increase local capacity to address local problems.

Local employees remain focused

Participants require training and support to ensure that they carry out tasks correctly. Our staff provide this training and support so that local staff can focus on what is truly important to their organisation at the time.

No entertainment-based activities

We don’t support the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. This includes riding animals, having them perform tricks, feeding or bathing them or getting close to them to take photos

No orphaned animal sanctuaries

We don’t encourage, support or allow the rearing of “orphaned” wild baby animals kept at a “sanctuary”. The conservation value of these types of programs is negligent and would only ethically be used in extremely rare cases

Guidelines for touching or movement restriction

When wild animals are restricted for conservation purposes we follow the guidelines of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Animal welfare guidelines

We ensure that the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are followed. These include the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from distress, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear, pain, injury or disease.

Local community empowerment

We ensure that conservation efforts are also always locally led, that community needs are front-and centre of any conservation effort and that our participants, projects and partners work to increase local community engagement in local conservation efforts.

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No veterinary programs

We don’t offer any veterinary programs or animal rescue and rehabilitation programs. We don’t allow participants to do any work they would not be able to do in their home country.

Learn more

Speak to alumni

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

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