VISIONS has set the standard in service programs since 1989. We help teens tap into the best parts of themselves, while working with community partners to achieve shared goals. Read More!
With VISIONS, you must dig deeper. We have operated teen service programs for nearly 30 years. In that time, we have developed strong relationships with our communities, while also witnessing the capabilities of teens. You will join a group of incredible peers and leaders in one of 12 locations around the world, and you will be welcomed into a community that is eager to share, learn, and challenge. You will do real projects that impact real people. We have returned to many of our program locations for 20+ years, building relationships that will allow you the opportunity to be part of a daily scene in another part of the world. This is not a teen tour. This is a time to step outside of yourself to be more and do more. Local people aren’t the subject matter of our experience—they are friends. Projects aren’t just a chance to do work—they are a direct response to the needs of our local partners. You aren’t there just for a travel experience—you are there to tap into the best parts of yourself and to truly learn the meaning of community. This is your chance– the world needs you.
What distinguishes VISIONS?
We are small on purpose, for purpose. We keep our organization small and focused in an effort to stay mindful of community-building, while maximizing the impact on the individual. That impact becomes apparent both in the short-term during the program and also over time as participants come to understand themselves and their place in their community of peers, the host community, and their global community. Our leaders are active mentors that help each participant tap into the best parts of who they are, and our noteworthy student to leader ratio of 1 to 4 or 5 allows for experiences that are personal and personalized.
VISIONS is rooted in long-term, respectful relationships with local partners. We offer a curated set of program dates and locations, and we cap the participation of each. We don't develop new programs on a whim. We have worked in most of our locations for 15–20 years or more, so our participants are welcomed like old friends into communities that know us well. We partner exclusively with local nonprofits on ambitious construction projects that are gratifying and needed by the community.
Our core values drive our programs and shape your experience.
Community: We consider the whole person, the whole community, the whole ecosystem of living beings, and the Earth that supports us.
Knowledge: We are committed to continuous improvement through the gathering and attempted understanding of information and ideas about people, places, and things.
Respect: We are grounded in a mindful regard for the beliefs, convictions and cultures of others, and we trust that we will receive the same in return.
Fun: We take a spirited approach to our work. We celebrate successes and we encourage laughing with abandon, the linking of arms and minds, and believing in the magic of humanity.
Tell me more about daily life on a VISIONS program.
You will work hard, and you will play hard. After work, there is plenty of time to explore, simply enjoy your surroundings, absorb the culture and make friends with peers and local people.
How will I spend my time?
Participants typically choose their worksite four days a week. On the fifth day you will be on "homebase crew” with a few other participants and a leader. The crew wakes up early to cook breakfast for everyone, cleans our homebase, does errands and shops at local markets for the rest of the day’s meals.
We work until mid-afternoon most days, and have time before dinner to participate in artisan workshops, take short hikes, go swimming, play games with neighborhood kids, or to simply have free time to relax or stroll in the community.
No matter which program you choose, weekends are for traveling to the best sites and attractions. We go to Machu Picchu in Peru, explore the Galapagos in Ecuador, and backpack through Glacier National Park in Montana. Our adventures take us through sprawling markets, off the beaten path with friends from the host community and, in Alaska, up the side of a glacier. Some programs also include day stays with local families.
Three to four nights a week participants and leaders have group meetings that last about an hour. This deliberate slow-down time allows everyone to get to know each other while reflecting together on our volunteer and cultural experience. We take a step back to allow communication to flow openly and voluntarily. Issues that arise naturally in a group of people who live and work closely together are acknowledged and addressed. Group meetings are the matrix that binds the group together as it works toward a common goal and strengthens program structure and framework overall.
Who participates in VISIONS?
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Motivated, curious, adventurous teens and middle school students who want to do ambitious service work in cross-cultural communities with like-minded peers. *Approximately 32 U.S. states are represented each summer, with about 60% of participants from the East and West Coasts. Students from all over the world attend VISIONS programs, and we welcome the diversity of backgrounds and geographical regions.
Most participants come on their own to VISIONS programs. To ensure strong group dynamics and a spirit of inclusiveness, we do not allow more than two friends to attend the same program together.
Because service projects and team-building are such a focus, age is much less relevant on VISIONS programs than during regular day-to-day school life. Furthermore, we place a premium on an inclusive group dynamic, and a family-like feeling really does define almost every VISIONS program. Your friends will include other participants, VISIONS leaders, and people of all ages from the host community.
Programs are gender-balanced, with no more than 15 of either gender on a program of 25 participants.
Most participants arrive with no technical or building skills. Our leaders are well trained and highly skilled. They coordinate projects, teach requisite skills, and closely guide participants every step of the way. Our safety record is not an accident.
D. Where to participants come from?
All over the world.
What is the living situation?
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We live together in a community center or rented home that is part of a local neighborhood. Boys and girls have separate rooms and leaders live with kids. There are social areas, kitchens, bathrooms and showers for each gender. While basic, your accommodations will be clean and comfortable.
We provide bunk beds or floor mattresses. You bring your own sheets and pillow. You will have a shelf or cubby for storing clothes and personal items.
You may encounter unexpected, temporary inconveniences. This is the reality of life in many of our host communities. What we take for granted at home, such as ample water for daily showers, may not happen reliably at your program site. You can count on having a shower at least every other day. Electricity at some sites can be inconsistent at best. Together, we always adjust and adapt.
Laundry is done once a week.
Please describe the meals and food.
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Rotating homebase crews comprised of a few participants and a leader prepare breakfasts and lunches that are plentiful and varied. Scrambled eggs, pancakes, French toast, yogurt, fruit and cereal are among the options for breakfasts. Sandwiches, salads, as well as some hot meals are what we enjoy for lunch. Fresh fruit, crackers and trail mix are just a few of the items available throughout the day as healthy snacks. Participants also can purchase their own favorite snacks at local corner stores and markets.
VISIONS employs local cooks who prepare dinners that satisfy each person’s palette. Meals blend Western fare and local cuisine. Each meal includes vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.
VISIONS programs are accustomed to accommodating allergies and some food restrictions. If your diet is highly specialized, please call to discuss your needs.
F. Please describe what teens have to say about your program? https://www.visionsserviceadventures.com/reviews-pageRead More!
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It was the day I was leaving for Peru on a three week service trip. I was not nervous about living in another country or about not having any western... Read full article »