Thanks for the checking out the blog for this Global Leadership Adventures program!
Here are a few things you can expect:
- We typically receive 2-3 blog posts per week here at GLA Headquarters from our program staff and students, so please don’t be alarmed if you don’t see a blog post daily – that’s totally normal.
- Blog updates sent on weekends may not be posted until Monday.
- Due to many factors, including but not limited to internet accessibility, photos may not always be available to post onto the blog. Sometimes onsite program staff are only able to send text back to Headquarters, where our team updates the blog.
Thank you for your patience and understanding, and we hope you enjoy following along on these unforgettable adventures.
Cell Phone Policy: The GLA cell phone policy is currently in place this summer to help foster meaningful connections between students. This means your student’s phone will be collected every day and returned to them after activities are completed to have with them through the night. Actual tech times and regularity will vary greatly by program location and time zones. During designated ‘tech time’, your student may use their phones as they wish. Please note that your student may not always choose to use this time to get a hold of their parents. If you are not hearing directly from your student each day, you can assume that no news is good news! We strongly recommend you follow the blog to follow your students’ experience without talking to them every day. If you are a parent and would like to get in touch with your student directly, you can call us at +1-619-758-3031 and we can set up a formal time for you to connect with your student.
For frequently asked questions about the blogs, please visit our Program Blog FAQ page.
-The Global Leadership Adventures HQ Team
BLOG POST FOR JULY 18
Written by Chelsea, International Director
Hola amigos y familias!
It’s been a gorgeous Costa Rican day with sunshine and a light breeze, welcoming young leaders onto our Marine Conservation and Turtle Expedition 14 day program!
Our first group of students arrived last night and this afternoon to San Jose, bonding over a typical Costa Rican lunch of casado – rice, beans, salad, plantains and meat. With swim tests and health checks out of the way, students have been bonding by playing soccer, Uno and quite a rousing game of Mafia.
Dinner was a hearty bowl of pasta bolognese with fresh mango or blackberry juice. Delicious!
We just collected a post-dinner crew (sorry I didn’t get a photo, it was so late!) and are waiting for a handful more this evening/early morning: Valentina, Erik, Finnegan, Norah, and Riley.
Due to flight delays, it will still be some time before we are a complete group with Christian, Gavinon, Jonah, Emerson, Alex P and Matilda arriving late.
I’m looking forward to all the adventures, service, friendships and turtles in the coming weeks! Please keep up to date with our blog that will mostly be written by leaders of the day for the remainder of our program.
Buenas noches 🙂
BLOG POST FOR JULY 19
Today, our Costa Rican adventure begins! Sadly, our journey started at 6 am with only 18 out of the 24 young leaders who were supposed to be here. Unfortunately, six encountered flight problems. If you are one of the six, know that you are missed, and we can’t wait to finally meet you!
After packing our bags and loading the bus by 6:30am, we had breakfast to go. Not everyone enjoyed the sandwich, but the orange juice and bananas were a hit—just be careful not to accidentally sit on your banana and make it all smushy! Our travel day was no joke, involving a two-hour bus ride, an hour-long ferry ride, and another hour-long bus ride. But shoutout to Teagan for creating a Spotify playlist called “GLA DRIVESSSS” (if you want to listen too) and a big thanks to Jorge for providing the snacks!
Finally, we arrived in beautiful Montezumaaaaa!!!!! The first thing we did was indulge in a delicious lunch of beans, rice, chicken, and plantains—oh so yummy in my tummy! Our gracious and wonderful staff, in consideration of the fantastic weather and perfectly blue ocean that greeted us, decided to push off orientation and let us enjoy some time it’s the beach. After a brief water safety talk by Lifeguard Natalie, we hit the waves. Some of us still had to complete our swim test, so it felt more like the waves hit us while we were treading water, but it’s all part of the experience! After an afternoon of sun, sand, swimming, and soccer, we returned to our hotel for a much-needed cold shower (because we were very hot and very stinky at this point).
Then came the time for the real fun stuff—orientation! This included learning about GLA, the staff, students/leaders, safety protocols, cultural aspects, more safety guidelines, and leadership skills. By this point, we were all feeling a bit sleepy and hungry, so a spaghetti bolognese dinner was exactly what we needed. We ended our evening with a leadership activity and some more group bonding while patiently awaiting the return of our phones. Until tomorrow, buenos noches and puraaaaaa vidaaaaaaa!!!!!!!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 20
Written by one Leader of the Day: Norah
Hola!! Norah here with my fellow GLA adventurers all the way from beautiful Montezuma, Costa Rica. We greeted the day with breakfast at 8:30, kindly made by our kitchen staff. Soon after we headed out to meet with ASVO, the local group we will be volunteering for. At ASVO we met some of the staff and listened to a presentation on what they do. After ASVO we went back to our home base for lunch.
At 12:30 we departed for surfing!! Woohoo. It was a bit of a hike to the surf location. We went passed ASVO and their turtle hatchery, down the beach, through the trees, over a hill, and down a few more beaches. But then we arrived and put on rashguards along with sunscreen. Once we were all suited up we carried the boards to the beach, split into groups, and learned the basics before hitting the waves. We practiced some moves on the beach then took our boards and an instructor into the salty salty ocean! Around an hour and 40mins later our surfing fun came to a close and we splashed out of the water to some delicious, freshly cut watermelon and pineapple! Back in town, we bought ice cream and checked out the fruit stand.
The group had a Pura Vida circle involving a game led by myself, then the mentors gave us the schedule for tomorrow, along with announcing the leaders for tomorrow. Drumroll Please because Teagan and Riley will be leading tomorrow and writing this blog. After that, we were off to dinner, a group activity, and soon to bed. It has been a great day!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 21
Written by Leaders of the Day: Teagan and Riley
Today we started off with a delectable omelet for breakfast at 8:00 am sharp and then got ready to leave for service with ASVO. We were lucky enough to attend the blue flag ceremony and raise the flag. The Ecologic Blue Flag Program was born as the answer to strengthen public health and tourist activities. Today it has ten categories and it is administered by several institutions by the public sector and private company organizations. The conservation efforts of Montezuma were noticed by the Blue Flag Program and received a flag. Shortly after we took a beautiful, but hot, path down to a polluted beach. We then met locals who dedicated their lives to working to fix the issue of pollution in Costa Rica. We spent around an hour making our way up and down the beach, picking up pieces of microplastic, some big pieces, some small. We made sure to get all bottle caps and straws because they are the most harmful to turtles. It was rather rewarding knowing the work we were doing was helping to save the turtles. Other than burning under the sun and sweating profusely, it was rather peaceful. We made sure to reapply sunscreen and stay hydrated for the trek back to town.
When we got back to home base, the chefs made arroz con pollo. It was kinda like fried rice. We had some downtime before participating in a debate regarding a turtle bill. Luckily Teagan and I were on the Panel while the others separated into four groups: the Fisherman’s Association, Small Business, Amigos Del Océanos, and Playas Parismina. We introduced the topic of argument and let them propose their opening arguments, debates, and closing arguments. After thorough discussion, the Panel came to the conclusion that the bill was to be passed but with necessary modifications.
We quickly packed for bioluminescence kayaking and left shortly after 4:00 pm. After an hour-and-a-half drive through the hills, we made it. We had dinner which was pasta salad with a side of home-made chips and bean dip. Once finished, we skipped rocks and saw who could skip the farthest, close tie between Ben and Finn. We got all ready to go and were all super excited. Then the thunder and lightning rolled in and the International Director made the executive decision to try to wait it out. We hung out inside and watched the lightning and the rain pour down. Although we didn’t want to admit it, we knew we weren’t going to be kayaking so we began to enjoy the refreshing rain. After getting absolutely soaked we changed and rushed to the bus and began heading home.
Once we got home we had a quick birthday celebration for Azra (HAPS AZRA) and then just chilled out. Just a few moments ago the remaining campers arrived so we all went to welcome them. One of the new kids, Alex, also is celebrating his birthday today so we ambushed him with cake and singing happy birthday for him (HAPS ALEX). Now we begin to wind down for the night.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 22
Written by leaders of the day Ben and Tyra.
Today we woke up to a delicious breakfast consisting of pancakes & maple syrup with a side of fresh pineapple at 8 in the morning. We all then promptly got ready to make our way to ASVO in the morning to pick up microplastics along the beachside. After we spent some time filling bags full of plastic waste, we took a small trip to view a sea turtle hatchery; not only did we talk to another group of volunteers, but we also enjoyed an array of tropical fruits. Upon arrival at the home base, our new group members took a swim test, which they all luckily passed. Once completed successfully, we all enjoyed a classic burger and fries (chips).
Soon after we went to the beach while 5 of the new people went surfing. We played volleyball, swam in the ocean, and shopped. While shopping we were able to experience the local culture with different shops and people. It was amazing to see all of the local culture and fascinating views whilst stopping into shops along the way.
After a fun-filled time at the beach and shopping, it was then mine and Ben’s opportunity to help introduce the new group members with an ice-breaker. The icebreaker was a version of Speed-dating with each new individual as the leading candidates speaking to their ‘speed-date’ about a certain question such as “ What’s your favourite hobby?” This was a great occasion for everyone to get to know the arrivals while making them feel welcome in our leadership group. Straight after we all gathered to enjoy some dinner which was vegetable rice with plantain chips and salad which everyone very much enjoyed.
Our group was then split into our mentor group and half of us were able to go night patrolling was ASVO while the rest enjoyed a relaxing evening with popcorn. Ben and I were lucky enough to experience the night patrolling which was educational to learn about the steps that ASVO take in order to conserve the safety of the turtles. Our guide then showed us that by moving the sand we were able to catch a glimpse of some micro bioluminescense algae. After a couple hours of shifts on night patrol we were due to head back just in time before torrential rain hit. The students then all went to sleep, pura vida.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 23
Written by Leaders of the Day: Val and Erik
Today we started with a beautiful and hearty breakfast consisting of eggs, toast, and avocado at eight in the morning. We then prepared for our excursion to Cabo Blanco national park. We departed at nine for the park. We arrived at ten in the morning. There were two wonderful guides waiting for us and after a brief introduction of what the national park consists of, we separated into two groups. We then departed on guided tours of the park which lasted around an hour and a half. On the tour, we saw a wide variety of wildlife including native plants and animals. The animals we saw were white-faced monkeys, bats, deer, iguanas, and insects. We had the opportunity to eat termites which we learned are a good source of food for survival in the jungle. Overall, the tour in the national park was very interesting, educational and it connected us with nature by showing us a glimpse of the amazing and surprising biodiversity we can find in the spectacular land of Costa Rica.
Afterward, we went back to the hotel, in an hour’s journey to finally get to lunch. For lunch, we had a wonderful traditional dish cooked by the hotel’s chef who prepared us some beef stew accompanied by white rice, beans, and some fresh vegetables. At half past one we chose to go to the beach as a free time activity where we swam in the calm and clean sea and we also went to Montezuma’s market to buy some ice cream and other snacks.
Finally, we arrived back at the hotel at four o’clock and we did a leadership activity with Chelsea. In the activity, we learned about the importance of the first follower of any leader and how leaders should treat their followers as equals. We also did a thematic dance in groups about our Marine Conservation and Turtle Expedition program and we all voted for a winner. Then we had free time until six when we all met in the yoga room for a game the leaders of the day had prepared. The game was classic duck-duck goose but in Spanish, so “pato, pato, ganso”. Then we did the Pura Vida circle and after we had dinner at
For our last dinner in Montezuma, we had several surprises: a barbecue, a piñata for the birthdays of Alexandros and Azra, and a local music group played some local music for us. We all enjoyed the music dancing together, playing some traditional percussion instruments, and showing our best dance moves as a group.
For the evening, we separated into mentor groups, and at eight-thirty pm, Omar’s group went to the beach for the night patrol where we searched for turtles so that we could collect their eggs. Luckily the group was able to see an Olive turtle that was putting its eggs by the beach. Natalie’s group met at eight for a movie night. The students met back up after both activities and then went to bed after a long exciting, but tiring, day.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 24
Written by Leaders of the Day: Mel and Justin
Today we woke up at an early time of 7 in the morning with our bags packed and ready to go. For our last breakfast in Montezuma, we ate a delicious tortilla with eggs, beans, and rice. After our breakfast, we had some time to relax and say one last goodbye to our amazing and welcoming hotel.
At 8:30 we departed off to the ferry terminal. For the hour-long car ride to the ferry, we listened to music and took some time to catch up on our sleep. We arrived to the terminal at 10 am and had to wait in line in order to board the boat. During this time we got to play charades and socialize with each other. After an hour of games, we embarked on our journey across the water. Our group was able to find a spot where we could all sit and mingle. While some of us spent our time playing card games with each other, the rest socialized outside and enjoyed the beautiful Costa Rican scenery. The boat provided many of us with a variety of snacks and beverages.
After around 2 hours on the ferry, we departed and began our journey to Parrita. We spent the next hour and a half taking in the landscape and socializing. Shortly after, we arrived at a nice restaurant called El Jardín. The restaurant was buffet-style and had a diverse selection of local food for us such as rice, beans, chicken, fried fish, salads, and pasta. We sat at several tables and enjoyed the amazing food.
Soon after eating, we spent time shopping for souvenirs at the store which was connected to the restaurant. We were able to buy clothes, ornaments, stuffed animals, key chains, jewelry, and other symbols of the Costa Rican culture. After we were able to buy gifts for our families, the group boarded back on the bus and took a short trip to the crocodile bridge. There, we were able to observe and take photos of the wild animals.
Back on the bus, we continued the journey to our next destination and passed the time with deep conversations and some more nap time. Arriving during a beautiful sunset, the group was able to get their first glimpse of the new hotel. We began the tour of our home for the next 7 days. We were able to look at the villas, the pool, and the recreation center.
After unpacking our bags, we met up for Pura Vida Circle at 7 pm. The leaders of the day (Justin and Mel) prepared a game of “Night at the Museum” where the group had to pose as various sculptures without getting coughs by the “guard”. Next, the mentors briefly explained the rules and schedule for this new hotel, and the new leaders were
announced. After this gathering, we were able to eat our first meal here which consisted of mashed potatoes, chicken, and vegetables. The group was able to settle into their villas and spend time ordering non-alcoholic beverages and playing foosball and pool. We spent the rest of the night getting ready for bed and preparing ourselves for the exciting day ahead of us.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 25
Written by Leaders of the Day: Alexander and Alexandros
Today, our first official day in Parrita, we promptly woke up to a delicious breakfast consisting of eggs, sausages, and rice with beans. At nine, we gathered shovels, as well as our other working gear, and headed to the beach to help out a few locals who live directly on the coast. One struggle which many are facing is that their soil is being eroded by the ocean’s currents. In response, we built a barrier out of sandbags (forty eight to be exact). Once our work was completed, we returned to the homebase where we did another active beach cleanup; not only was the cleanup a success, but we got to witness a couple dolphins playing together in the ocean! Following our hours of work, we devoured lunch and headed to town. There, we went to one of the local supermarkets and bought a few snacks to help us survive through the remaining days.
At three in the afternoon we welcomed Maurilio, an experienced marine biologist with an expertise in turtles. He educated us on aspects of Costa Rica’s history, marine conservation, and the different sea turtle species present in the country. When completed, the leaders (us) brought the entirety of the group together for one massive game of red light, green light. The game was stationed on the lawn behind the villas; it was filled with tall trees and hammocks (definitely a favorite amongst many of us). We then attended our daily “Pura Vida” circle and headed for a well-deserved dinner, and mentor groups. We concluded the day by getting ready for bed and preparing for the busy day ahead of us!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 26
Written by Leaders of the Day: Ava and Nathan
This morning we woke up and had a delicious breakfast of a ham and cheese omelet with a side of potatoes, pineapple, and watermelon. After breakfast, we gathered together and played two icebreaker games. One of them was look up and look down (shout out to Ben the champion of this game) and Omar’s version of rock, paper and scissors. (Dwarfs, wizards, and Giants). After all of the games, we met up with Maurilio and started our service work. We cut down fallen trees to prepare them to be planted at the beach. There were 3 groups, Scorpions, Turtles, and Coconuts that were each tasked with a certain job. The Scorpions and Turtles were tasked to cut down the trees and clear a path to the beach, while the Coconuts were tasked with planting coconuts on the beach.
For lunch, we were greeted with the delicious smell of fish and chips with a side salad and peach custard. After lunch, we had a dance lesson where we learned three different styles of traditional dance: Salsa, Merengue, and Bachata! We danced hard for about an hour and thanked our dance instructor for the amazing lesson.
We had 2 hours of free time which consisted of Pool, Soccer, Foosball, and resting. Before Pura Vida circle we played a big game of hide and seek. During the “Spanish with Jorge” segment of Pura Vida, we had a Spanish battle where we had two teams race to a set of cones and say a word in Spanish and its translation.
For dinner, we had Lasagna with a side of salad, and for dessert, we had strawberry ice cream. We ended the day with mentor groups and then got ready for an exciting day of zip-lining and a mentor group competition tomorrow!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 27
Written by Leaders of the Day: Azra and Christian
Today we woke up bright and early for a speedy breakfast of pancakes and mini sausages and quickly hit the road to go zip lining. We drove for about an hour and a half and finally arrived at our destination. We all had such an amazing time zip-lining. At the zip line place, there were many different fun features of the park such as a Tarzan swing, repelling, an assortment of different types of zip lines long and short, and even a superman zip line. They were all so much fun.
After we had lunch at the same spot which was INSANELY good, we made the long trek back to Parrita. When we arrived back at the hotel, we had a free time and then began the mentor group extravaganza! Omar’s mentor group and Natalies mentor group competed in a series of games including a relay race, soccer tournament, and other fun activities. After a very tight competition, Natalie’s group won!
After the competition, we had dinner: rice, beans, salad, and beef stew. We then had our pura vida circle and a leadership activity. In the leadership activity, we divided into four cultures and interacted with each other. After that we had a discussion about cultural differences and living your values. We ended the night with karaoke at the bar area.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 28
Written by leaders of the day: Rhonynn and Gavin
This morning we woke up early just like yesterday. Our breakfast consisted of French Toast, hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, and sausages. We traveled to Victor’s hatchery on Playa Bandera for service and a fun surprise. We released baby sea turtles into the ocean; it was so amazing! We continued with service where a group of boys filled tires with sand and others put together hatching cages to protect baby sea turtles from predators before and after birth. We also painted the tires red. Upon return to the hotel, we headed straight for a lunch of burritos, french fries, and salad.
After lunch, we had some well-deserved free time, where many played pool or foosball. At around three, we traveled to Lulu’s kitchen for an enlightening lesson on the process of making empanadas. Many also bought jewelry from Lulu, the money from those purchases would go toward the well-being of Costa Rican children in the area. When we came home, we enjoyed an hour of free time.
Our evening began with a wonderful Pura Vida circle on the beach under a beautiful sunset where we took many photos. Dinner was Mac’n Cheese with garlic bread and salad. After dinner, the mentor groups met in vilas where we played games and reflected on what we’ve learned so far. We ended the night with some more pool and foosball.
Needless to say, the baby turtles were the highlight of our day and possibly our whole trip, and we can’t wait to go to Manuel Antonio National Park tomorrow!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 29
Written by Leaders of the Day: Finn and Simone.
Once again we started with an early morning, having breakfast at 7, which consisted of a breakfast burrito, cereal, and fruit. We then got on the road, traveling an hour to the Manuel Antonio national park. Once we arrived, we split into two groups and began our guided tour of the area. Throughout the journey, we saw multiple animals including, sloths, tucans, spiders, lizards, iguanas, etc. After the tour, we arrived at the beach and spent an hour and a half swimming in the beautiful water, taking in the scenery! We then traveled back to the bus, stopping at many stores and markets, and eating our sack lunch. These included chicken sandwiches, chips, apples, juice, and cookies.
We then returned to our hotel in Parrita, and enjoyed 3 relaxing hours of free time! After this, we met on the beach for our final Pura Vida circle and played a game called Queen Bee led by Connor. From the beach, we headed to dinner, which was Chifriojo, a local Costa Rican dish, consisting of rice, beans, pork, tortillas, avocado, and pico de gallo. For dessert, we had a delicious key lime pie! After dinner, we had our final leadership activity as a group which was called OMG (One Meaningful Goal). In this activity, we were all given a worksheet in which we described a goal that we wanted to achieve throughout the course of a year. We then came up with a collective goal for the group and organized a plan to achieve it.
We ended the night with free time and we are excited for our last day of community service tomorrow!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 30
Written by Leaders: Jonah, Emmy, and Matty
Our last day together started by loading our bags onto the buses and having a breakfast of scrambled eggs, potatoes, ham, and toast. We then completed our last day of service by clearing a path to the beach and planting 200 almond tree saplings that will help prevent erosion, maintaining a safe environment for the local wildlife. Despite the quick downpour, we were able to get the job done. At noon we had our final meal at Parrita, of rice, beans, grilled chicken, and salad. Then, we hopped onto the bus for our three-hour journey back to San José.
On the way there we made a stop by El Jardín to pick up last-minute souvenirs. Once we arrived at Hotel Robledal, we settled into our rooms before meeting for an Appreciation Circle where we sat in a circle facing outwards. In groups, we anonymously recognized each other for our positive qualities. For dinner, we had beans, rice, tortillas, salad, and a choice between beef stew or grilled chicken. While we were eating our dessert of chocolate ice cream, we were pleasantly surprised by a group of Costa Rican dancers who performed a variety of cultural dances which ranged from Salsa to Meringue. They were kind enough to share the stage with us, guiding us through the basics of their graceful art.
After a lot of hugs and tears, we said goodnights and goodbyes to those departing at 4:45 am, concluding our adventures in Costa Rica.
Thank you, GLA for this wonderful experience that we will remember for years to come!