Service Challenge: Costa Rica & Panama

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Make an impact! Work alongside the indigenous BriBri people, experience new cultures, and learn about the endangered sea turtles in Panama. Travel to one of the best rivers in Costa Rica for whitewater rafting, zipline through the rainforest, and explore San José’s bustling downtown artisan market! Earn 35-45 hours of community service.

13 14 15 16 17-18 2020 International Life Skills Outdoors
About the Trip

Scholarships available for this Destination! See application below.  

“I am not the most extroverted person but during this course I made the truest and most amazing friends that I have had in a long time.” -Gauri, Service Challenge Alum


Earn 35-45 hours of community service while gaining compassion and an understanding of indigenous BriBri communities and sea turtle conservation projects in Costa Rica and Panama!

BriBri Indigenous Community

This course starts in the indigenous region of Talamanca, Costa Rica working and living with the indigenous BriBri population. While staying in a remote village, you will work alongside fellow Girl Scouts to support the local community.

Service projects will be based on the current need of the community and may include refurbishing or painting community buildings, food distribution, creating a garden, teaching English, and recycling projects. Learn about native customs, culture, language, and food engaging with the local community.

Sea Turtle Conservation

Next, you will cross the border into Northern Panama and travel to San San Pond Sak to help protect the diverse marine life along the Caribbean Coast. Learn about Panama’s beautiful and lush ecosystems while working on sea turtle conservation projects. Assist with local conservation efforts through nightly patrols, cataloging nests, habitat creation, and possibly releasing newly hatched baby turtles into the wild. Secure and provide food for the newly returned manatees. Additional service projects may include beach clean-ups and trail preservation work.

Additional Activities

When you’re not engaged in service projects, experience an action-packed adventure on a day of whitewater rafting, zipping through the treetops on a canopy tour, and soaking in the vibrant culture during a city tour and a visit to San José’s bustling artisan market.

About Outward Bound Costa Rica (OBCR)

OBCR has partnered with GSUSA for nearly 15 years to provide Girl Scout Destination courses that uniquely get Girl Scouts outside of their comfort zone, expand their knowledge of other cultures, become stronger leaders, and make lasting friendships from across the world.

Hear From the Alum

“I knew when Emily returned from her trip that she would be different, but I never expected the amazing transformation I saw when we met her at the airport. She was full of life, excitement, and confidence. Emily spoke the most about the wonderful bond she made with her new friends. This trip far exceeded our expectations!” -Carrie, GS Mother

Learn about other adventure-filled Girl Scout Destinations with Outward Bound Costa Rica on their website.

Where You Go

Costa Rica

What to Know

You must be 13–18 years old at the time of the trip. No Spanish language experience is required.

You must possess:

  • A sincere interest in community service and cultural exchange
  • The readiness for a physical challenge
  • The ability to be a good team player
  • An open mind to experience an eye-opening adventure

Trip takes place in both Costa Rica & Panama. In Costa Rica, activities in San Jose, Cartago and Limón Provinces, with base camp in San Ramon de Tres Rios. In Panama, conservation service project takes place in the Bocas del Toro Province.


The Dates

Session 1: June 20, 2020 – July 4, 2020

Session 2: July 4, 2020 – July 18, 2020

Session 3: July 18, 2020 - August 1, 2020

Session 4: August 1, 2020 - August 15, 2020

*Note: Please be sure to specify which session(s) you are applying for when filling out your application.*

What to Bring

  • A packing list will be provided upon receipt of your deposit
  • A valid passport with an expiration date no less than 6 months past your day of departure from Costa Rica
  • Visa will be issued upon arrival into Costa Rica for U.S. and UK citizens. No forms or fees are needed.


The Cost

Program Fee: $2,495

A $200 deposit will be due immediately upon acceptance to this course (this is part of the Program Fee, not in addition to it). The balance is due 30 days prior to the start of the course.

Program Fee includes food, lodging, in-country transportation, pick-up and drop-off to the airport, and all advanced gear for adventure activities. Program Fee does not include airfare. You will be responsible for providing your own round-trip airfare to San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO airport), as well as bringing your own spending money (recommended $200 per 2-week course) for the artisan market visit and baggage fees.

Girls may be eligible for a $500 scholarship made possible by the Elliott Wildlife Values Project. Download the application form on the right or contact Outward Bound Costa Rica for more information on how to apply.

Download Application Forms
Destinations Application Worksheet Scholarship Form
Contact Information

Girl Scout Liaison