Let us help you form a group from your university or other organization and earn the chance to come to Costa Rica for FREE! Most University / Group Reps earn a FREE trip with us, including airfare! Here on this page you will find information about what it means to be a University Representative.
Our goal is to work closely together with you to ensure the success of your group trip and to help you get the most out of this volunteer position. Please read through this manual to decide if being a Tropical Adventures Rep is the right choice for you! And please remember, if you have any questions at all, please don´t hesitate to ask us. We are happy to help you; that's what we're here for!
We know you will benefit greatly from this experience as well. Being a Tropical Adventures University Representative enhances initiative, teamwork, organizational skills & leadership, as well as all the qualities that are assessed as significant factors contributing to a successful student's future career.
Below you can find the important requirements you'll need to complete in order to become considered for the University Representative position in your area.
What you need to do:
- Fill out our Representative Application and e-mail it to us.
- Send us your resume by email, along with a cover letter explaining why you want to participate in this program. Don´t worry about writing a long essay. This step serves to get to know you know a bit and to help us understand your goals and the reasons you would like to become a University or Group Rep.
- Complete a phone interview with one of our team members.
Once approved, we will draft a contract between you and Tropical Adventures.
BENEFITS FOR REPS
Once you have been chosen to be a representative of your university, there are several benefits that we are glad to offer you. In this section you will find out what benefits will be extended to our University Representatives.
For your hard work in organizing your group, the Tropical Adventures Foundation will gladly offer you the following compensation, based upon the number of paying group members you are able to recruit.
- Group size of 06 – 09
$300 discount off of regular group member price. No help with flight costs.
- Group size of 10 – 14
Free participation in group and we will pay up to $250 in flight costs.
- Group size of 15 – 19
Free participation in group and we will pay up to $400 in flight costs.
- Group size of 19 – 20
Free participation in group and we will pay up to $600 in flight costs.
In addition to what could be an entirely free trip, the Tropical Adventures Founder & Executive Director will provide you with a personal letter of recommendation as group representative.
REPRESENTATIVE OBLIGATIONS & RESPONSIBILITIES
As a representative, it is important to help us maintain the integrity of the Tropical Adventures program and to be respectful to all Tropical Adventures administrative and staff members. If you are regarded unsuited as a Tropical Adventures representative, you will be removed from your position with a written notice.
Obligations and responsibilities of being a representative:
- Join the Tropical Adventures Facebook Group and encourage all potential students to join as well.
- Create a Facebook group at your University for your upcoming group trip with Tropical Adventures and send out event notices, meeting notes, answers to questions, etc. via Facebook (And don´t forget to invite us!).
- Contact your campus online and local newspapers prior to and after your trip, or pass the information on to our staff.
- Form a Tropical Adventures Campus organization or club.
- Write a testimonial on the Tropical Adventures website after your trip, and encourage all of your trip members to do so as well.
- Post comments about your Tropical Adventures experience on our website, as well as social networking sites.
- Be the main point of contact for your group so that we can receive all your questions together, and avoid answering the same questions to each individual.
HOW TO ORGANIZE A TROPICAL ADVENTURES GROUP
The best starting point would be to participate in a conference call with members of the Tropical Adventures staff to review Representative Kit materials, to review the website and to brainstorm about the process.
The Rep Kit materials that we can provide you include:
- Tropical Adventures brochures.
- Electronic copies of our Tropical Adventures logo, which you can use for fliers, posters, emails, Power Point presentations, meetings, official correspondence, newspaper releases, etc.
- A Power Point presentation that you can customize to suit your own needs. (Or develop one of your own from our examples and our extensive library of photos.)
- Information about Costa Rica and how to prepare for a trip to Costa Rica in the form of our Volunteer Manual.
Contacts and Networking
Some examples of creative networking can be making important contacts at your University (Presidents of clubs, faculty members, International Studies (or Study Abroad) staff, as well as inquiring about the possibility of presenting information regarding Tropical Adventures programs to other groups at their next meetings, special meetings with faculty, etc.
Another great option is contacting professors who teach Culture, Anthropology, Natural History, Geography, Biology, Spanish, etc.
You can also inquire about any meetings in the local area about volunteering, community services or anything related and by this approach to address more students.
Choose a date and arrange a meeting on campus (or in your local community)
Utilize one of our fliers or create one of your own to distribute around the campus. We can send you some brochures and posters. You can hang up posters in campus community areas, for instance in dining areas, campus coffee shops, commuter lounges, and other bulletin boards. Some of our past Reps have sent fliers to campus P.O. Boxes, among other creative places.
Announce your meeting and some brief information about your group trip with Tropical Adventures at the beginning of classes (ask permission from your professor first, of course). It should take you only a short time – about 3 to 5 minutes – at the most to announce the information and to provide your contact information. You can offer to stay a few minutes after class is over to speak with interested students, fill them in on a bit more information about the group trip, and to get their contact information.
Please keep in mind that the amount of money you will need to come up with yourself depends on how many group members you are able to recruit. The length of the participation in a project can be totally customized for your group according to your own needs. Our on-going projects are specially set up to ensure that people who have a limited amount of time to spare can make the most of their time in Costa Rica.
What we suggest is to hold a meeting once a month before your project start to build team cohesiveness and continue to inform students on several important issues, such as:
- Details of your trip: When are you going to go, which project(s) would your group like to participate in, what kind of tours would you all like to take, what goals you might have as a group.
- What to expect: If you have not been on a Tropical Adventures trip previously, then we can provide you with references of students who have been on trips. They would be glad to indicate firsthand about what to expect.
- What to Pack: A list of these items are listed in the packing section of this packet, as well as in our Volunteer Manual.
- Spanish Intro: To be able to speak Spanish is not required. However if you are able to find someone on campus who is willing to give some basic survival Spanish lessons would be of great benefit! (We can also provide a remarkable online language learning course (Live Mocha) for a very small fee per person. The regular price is $100, but we able to pass this on to your group members for just $20 each.
Starting a Tropical Adventures Foundation Campus Club
Congratulations! You are on your way to starting a Tropical Adventures Campus Club and you are going to be rewarded for all your hard work and efforts! Founding a campus club is different at every University and College, so please plan this process ahead months ago (for instance from 6 to 9 months ahead).
And please remember we are more than happy to help facilitate any paperwork or written documentation that you may need to initiate the campus club process. In most cases, you will need 5 to 10 people interested in forming a campus club in order to fill out the paperwork, so keep that in mind. Oftentimes universities require a written constitution as well as a professor to “sponsor” the club. As a Tropical Adventures Campus Club, you have the responsibility of sending us quarterly updates and new officer rosters each year, among other tasks.
Please let us know if you'd like a sample constitution, but please be aware that each campus is a bit different in their requirements for a written constitution, the number of students needed to start the organization on campus, if you need to attend a class first, deadlines per semester to found a new campus club, etc. So the first thing you should do is inquire about that process.
Volunteers are responsible for purchasing their own airfare. Be aware that we must receive participant flight information (dates, airline, flight numbers, arrival/departure times, connection information) no later than 30 days prior to travel, so that we can ensure that our Tropical Adventures staff members can pick them up at the airport.
As a University Representative, you have the responsibility of coordinating flights, whether it be arranging them at a group rate, or selecting one or two reasonable itineraries that the students can choose from.
Tropical Adventures recommends the members of your group purchase travel insurance. We have worked for many years with a company, World Nomads, and have found them to be very reliable and to have great coverage. Some examples of what their travel insurance covers:
- Medical Insurance
- Dental Coverage
- Emergency Evacuation
- Adventure Sports & Activities
- Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption and Trip Delay Coverage
- Baggage & Personal Effects Loss
- Accidental Death & Dismemberment
- Sporting Equipment Loss or Damage
Please see our Medical Insurance Info page for more detailed information.
Please note: When you purchase the insurance using the link above, our Foundation will receive a 10% commission – and 100% of that money will be used to directly support our ongoing community projects. The cost to you will be the same as if you went directly to the provider yourself. Thank you for your continued support!
How to Renew your Tropical Adventures Representative Agreement
1. Contact us after your trip to let us know that you plan to continue your role as a University Representative.
2. Tropical Adventures will then evaluate your performance and group feedback.
3. Tropical Adventures will then draw up a new representative agreement.
Please note that if we do not hear from you 60 days after your trip, we will open up the university representative position to other candidates.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Your health and safety is of the utmost importance to Tropical Adventures. The water in Costa Rica is safe to bathe with and certainly is much safer to consume than other Central American countries, but it is not up to the standards of North America or the EU. In most areas drinking water is totally safe. However, we suggest that you drink bottled water during your visit to Costa Rica if you have a sensitive system or are nervous about getting ill. Bottled water is readily available at stores, restaurants and bars. We would suggest that the ice is safe to consume. We strongly encourage all volunteers to drink much more water than they would normally at home. The heat and humidity of Costa Rica, combined with physically challenging volunteer projects will require more hydration for your body. Heat stroke is a common ailment for tourists and we don´t want any of our group tour participants to become victims of heat stroke.
We recommend that participants who want to explore the local area do so in small groups just as a standard safety precaution when traveling to any foreign land. We ask that volunteers be informed and wary travelers and to not carry their passports, large amounts of money, etc. with them when not needed. Your belongings will be safe in your host family homes. If there is a safe in your hostel or near your project location, we encourage participants to utilize this free service.
Tropical Adventures contracts only reputable, well-known transportation providers who are licensed and insured. All transportation is modern, safe and reliable, and the buses are typically air conditioned “coasters” or mini-buses that seat 25 passengers. All drivers or guides have cell phones with them at all times.
The majority of our volunteers choose to stay in with a host family, as it provides a rich and rewarding experience. Most of our volunteers end up maintaining a life-long connection with their family after they depart. Hostel options, as well as upgrades to hotels and resorts are available in certain project locations. All of our host families are well screened for cleanliness, safety and friendliness. Room sizes and styles will vary from house to house but normally you will have your own private room with private bathroom. Some rooms have fans and television sets. Not all homes have hot water showers. Please inquire for more info. Most of our host families are Costa Rican and don't speak any English. Other families are Caribbean decent and speak both English and Spanish. They are always glad to welcome our participants into their homes and appreciate the volunteer work you are doing.
In Central America, the prevalence of pick-pocketing is high in the capitol cities, while that of any type of physical assault is low. Tropical Adventures encourages all volunteers to use common sense and not to carry around large sums of money, to carry only a copy of your passport, and to be as street smart as possible. Tropical Adventures requires that students go out in small groups of 2 or more – and never alone – during free time. Most of the work sites where Tropical Adventures provides services to the communities are small, rural areas where these safety concerns will not be issues. However, in any major city, caution needs to be taken when volunteers are out on their own.
All volunteers are instructed to provide a copy of their trip itinerary to loved ones and emergency contacts. In addition, please point out to your family members where our Emergency Contact Info is available on our website, by clicking on the Emergency Contact button on our Contact Us page.
No vaccinations are required to enter Costs Rica for citizens of most countries, but we would recommend that all participants review their own home country's health information bulletin for Costa Rica. For more information about requirements and suggestions, please see the Frequently Asked Questions section of our website.
Please be aware of the due dates for payments, according to our Payment Policy:
- $100.00 application fee (due at time of booking trip).
- $500 deposit (90 days before trip)
- Trip balance (45 days before trip)
Group members can pay via one of the following methods:
- Wire Transfer
- In person bank deposit at any Bank of America branch
- Mail a check to Bank of America
- Credit Card
Our preferred method of payment is wire transfer. The reason is because we need the actual cash in Costa Rica to be able to pay for your trip expenses. If you use a credit card, we not only have to pay the credit card transaction fees (4%), but we also have to pay to wire the funds to our account in Costa Rica (another $45). If there is any way possible, we would surely appreciate it if you would be willing to go to your own bank and ask them to wire the funds to our account in Costa Rica. Most banks now offer the ability to set up a wire transfer online as well. We will help you with the entire process. It is very easy.
Campus coordinators are not authorized to collect trip fees.
Please review our Cancellation Policy. All cancellations must be submitted to Tropical Adventures in writing to email@example.com.
What is included with a Tropical Adventures trip:
- Airport Pick-Up & Drop-Off
- Transportation to & from Project
- Lodging and Meals
- Country Information and Orientation
- Volunteer Project Placement
- Project Training and In-Country Support
- Assistance with Planning Excursions and Activities
- Reference letter or evidence of volunteer service hours
- 24 hour in-country emergency service
The price you pay does not include:
- Airport Exit Tax of $28 USD
- Personal Spending Money
- Travel Insurance
- Academic Credit (there are exceptions)
- Optional Tours
- Laundry Service
As trip fees are sometimes an obstacle for volunteers, fundraising can be an important part of planning a adventure with Tropical Adventures. Fundraising can be used to collect sponsorships for volunteers, or to collect donations to take on your trip, for instance. A few good resources for fundraising are: Fundraising Yellow Pages, Fundraising Directory, A to Z Fundraising Directory, and 123 Fundraising. You can, for instance, host events to raise your funds such as Garage sales, Car wash, Auctions, Selling beverages/food at athletics activities on campus, BBQ´s etc. If you have any questions at all or want suggestions from us about how to raise money for your group trip, please don't hesitate to contact us.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM US?
Our goal is to help you have an exciting, fun, rewarding and learning experience. Hopefully you´ll remember your trip to Costa Rica as one of the best trips you have ever taken!
You can expect that our number one concern is your safety and that we will do our best to help you have a safe trip. Should something happen to you, you can expect we will do whatever necessary to support and help you. We are very aware that sometimes people have a different expectation of what Costa Rica or their project will be like.
You can expect us to do our best to educate you in advance so you have a pretty good idea of what to expect when you arrive. However, if you encounter an issue with your hotel, host family, staff, professor or project, you can also expect us to listen and our best to make to make any changes within our means to assist you.
WHAT WE EXPECT FROM YOU
- We expect you to engage, participate, do your best – and to have FUN!
- We expect you to go through to all conditions mentioned in this packet and for you to understand them. In case there is something not clear, please contact us!
- We expect you to speak with us immediately should you encounter an issue, or if something is not right about your lodging or project.
- Should you need to change something on itinerary, we expect you to notify us immediately (this will save you money and heartache).
- We expect you to notify us of any changes or deviations you are going to make to your itinerary. This will help us know where you are so we can best care for your safety and find you in the event of an emergency.
Bringing Donations and How to Help from Home
As you know, Costa Rica is still a developing nation. That´s why we exist. We can always use help and donations of cash or materials and supplies. Please see our Tropical Adventures Wish List for more information or contact us to find out what you can bring with you and how you can help.