Who will my venture within program facilitators be?

Venture Within groups are facilitated by an experienced Project Manager and one experienced Project Intern. These “PM’s” and interns are first aid certified and highly experienced, well-travelled individuals with a great deal of cultural knowledge. They will pick you up at the airport upon arrival, and consistently work within the group, guiding and managing logistics of the program, as well as facilitating the Leadership workshops. You can read more about them on the “About Us” page of our website.

Can I receive academic credit for my venture within program?

Working with your university to receive academic credit is an excellent way to complement your participation in a Venture Within Program.

Upon request, we provide participants with a detailed run down of their program activities to demonstrate how your hands-on experience has enabled you to meet your university course objectives. This includes the conservation work you’ll be doing, the community work you’ll be engaging in, and will demonstrate how your participation in our Leadership Development workshops enabled you to learn new skills and empowered you to apply them to your experiences while overseas.

The first step is to talk to your university to find out exactly what is required, as each university will have its own set of objectives. Your department may have a form you’ll need to complete with us, may want to speak with an Venture Within representative, or may simply require a reference letter from us. Once you’ve determined what you will need to earn course credits, just let us know and we’ll be happy to help!

Can I participate if I am 17?

You can apply for Programs but must be at least 12 years of age. If you are under 18, you will need written consent from your parent or guardian on your Participant Agreement form.

Can I travel with friends?

Absolutely. Just email us at [email protected] with your names and program dates and we will do our best to accommodate you.

How do I sign up?

Click on the “Apply Now” button on this page and it will take you through the sign up procedure. This includes filling out a non-committal form that will let us reach out to you to find out the best placement you are interested in. After you submit this form online, we will then contact you with further information.

What do I need to bring?

Venture Within will provide you with the Participant Handbook which will include information about your program, the local community, and the items you should pack once your placement has been secured.

• Travel Backpack preferred (rather than suitcase)

• Small travel bag

• Flashlight

• Flashlight
 with red lamp (Costa Rica only)

• Sunscreen. 30+ is recommended

• Insect Repellent. Some volunteer project locations will be in remote jungle areas. It is recommended that you bring repellent such as “Off! Deep Woods”, DEET (30%), or other lotions that will protect your skin from insect bites.

• Large plastic bags to serve as a liner for your travel backpack and protect your belongings from getting wet in the rain. Rains are usually sudden and very heavy.

• Plastic bag for dirty laundry

• Water proof jacket

• Water proof backpack-cover (optional – to protect your bag from rain if needed)

• Water shoes

• Running shoes/hiking boots

*hiking boots strongly recommended for the hikes

•Please pack plenty of clothing that you won’t mind getting dirty (you will need about 2 sets of clothes/ a day for the first two weeks – one set for working in and another clean set to change into afterwards).

• Shorts for working. Remember, you will be working outside in the heat so wearing shorts suitable for yard work or working with animals is advised.

• Bandana (the heat is extreme during this time of year, so this can be used for protection against the sun, and against dirt and lava rocks during volcano boarding activities in NIcaragua)

• Swimsuit

• Jeans

• Light Jacket

• Minimum 2 weeks’ worth underwear

• Pajamas

• Sunglass/Hat

• Casual/Dressy clothes for a night out

• 1 Towel. * A travel towel is recommended, as they are lightweight, quick drying and easy for packing

• Toiletries. These should include soap, deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, and other personal items. For female participants, feminine products may be difficult to find in pharmacies near our project locations, so we advise you to prepare accordingly.

• Lip balm (SPF encouraged)

• Basic first aid kit including Band-Aids, antiseptic, anti-itch cream, pain reliever medicine, tissues

• Personal medications

• Antibiotics (personal option)

• Allergy medication (personal option)

• Dramamine or other motion sickness preventative (personal option)

• Re-usable water bottle

• Travel Locks

• Journal/Writing Pen

• Camera

• Playing Cards/Musical Instrument (personal option)

How many people will be in my group?

During the orientation and leadership development course workshops, your group will consist of between 6 – 10 people. During the volunteer part of your program, you may be divided into groups of 2 to 5, depending on the need of the volunteer project you participate in.

Do I need to be able to speak spanish?

While some level of Spanish is ideal, there will be English speaking project guides on hand to help you complete your projects. Bring a Spanish language dictionary with you if you like, but you will definitely pick up the basics during your program. “Buenos dias” (good day) is always a good place to start.

What will the weather be like in Costa Rica?

With a climate that is diverse and varied, Costa Rica can be divided into several climatic zones, each of which are distinct and individual. Costa Rica has no real winter period, and the sun shines here throughout the year. With over 12 hours of sunshine a day, the sun rises at about 5 am and sets at about 6 pm consistently throughout the year. The main reason for the diversity in Costa Rica’s weather is the various elevations at which different parts of the country are located.

Do I need to be able to speak Thai?

You will be able to communicate with your project leaders and many of the locals by speaking English. However, we will provide you with some language basics during your orientation so that you can begin to experience the local culture. As is true in any country, when a foreigner attempts to speak the local language, it is sincerely appreciated by the locals. Don’t worry about perfect pronunciation. This will come with practice. Learning to say “hello”, “please”, and “thank you” is a good way to start a conversation and begin to be a part of the community.

In Thailand, the most polite and appreciated way of greeting people is called the Sampeah: upon meeting someone, clasp your hands together in front of your chest with fingers pointing upward. Accompany this gesture with a slight bow.

What will the weather be like in Thailand?

The tropical climate in Thailand means that the weather is very hot year round. During the November – February Venture Within programs, the weather will be dry with an average of 25 Celsius (77 Fahrenheit). The evenings can be cooler, so you might prepare by packing a lightweight jacket. The Venture Within programs running from June – August months are during Thailand’s rainy season, but the rain is fairly predictable, occurring mostly in the afternoons and only lasting for a few hours. Even with the rainfall, the temperature is still very hot and the sun can be very intense if you are not used to tropical climates.

Do I need to be able to speak Spanish?

While some level of Spanish is ideal, there will be English speaking project guides on hand to help you complete your projects. Bring a Spanish language dictionary with you if you like, but you will definitely pick up the basics during your Venture. “Buenos dias” (good day) is always a good place to start.

What will the weather be like in Nicaragua?

Nicaragua has two seasons: rainy and dry. From November – May, there is little rain and the country is very hot and dry. From May – November, Nicaragua experiences a rainy season, with the heaviest rain falling in October. With over 12 hours of sunshine a day, the sun rises at about 5 am and sets at about 6 pm consistently throughout the year.

Who will my venture within program facilitators be?

What health and safety precautions are taken?

Venture Within takes every measure possible to ensure the safe facilitation of each program. Without health and safety, the successful completion of each project just wouldn’t be possible. Your health and safety is the first and most important step.

  • All participants are supported with departure planning and preparation and are thoroughly briefed on health and safety concerns, destination information, local language and climate prior to departure via, emails, calls from Program Managers, and providing each participant with a detailed handbook.
  • Our Program Managers facilitate travel logistics, project coordination, and facilitate the leadership workshops and learning process of each participant. We support participants in overcoming challenges and promoting teamwork.
  • The Program Manager is responsible for the group’s safety and welfare. They understand when to give direction and when to allow students to develop as leaders, playing the role of educator, guide and mentor.
  • Our team is highly experienced in managing groups of young people in developing countries. Each Program Manager will be equipped with a local cell phone number and data. We will also have a USA-based anchor as well as on 24-hour back-up for the duration of the program.
  • In addition, all of our Program Managers are accessible via in-country phone. They are trained in First Aid and carry First Aid kits with them at all times. They oversee the safe use of any equipment in each project area, and have knowledge of the closest source for medical care​
  • Our local in-country representatives provide assistance to all Venture Within groups in every situation including logistical challenges as well as illness.
  • Our USA-based managers are also on hand and in touch with all Program Managers throughout the duration of each program to ensure quick communication.

We do our best to look after each participant, so if you have further questions about our health and safety procedures, please feel free to send an email to [email protected], and we’ll be sure to reach out and alleviate any concerns you may have.

Do I need any immunizations?

Some immunizations may be required for Thailand, Nicaragua, & Costa Rica. Venture Within highly recommends that you visit your doctor or local travel health clinic to find out about immunization and vaccination recommendations. A list of required and recommended immunizations can be found at www.mdtravelhealth.com. You may need to get many of these immunizations 4-8 weeks before your departure date. You will be located close to a fantastic hospital with international standards in all of our country locations.

Is the local water safe to drink?

In Costa Rica, yes, much of the water is just fine to drink; however, your digestive system may not be accustomed to the natural water at your program’s location. If you are concerned with getting a stomach ache, there will be bottled water available.

In Nicaragua and Thailand, bottled water will be available at all times for you.

Please be sure to bring your own refillable water bottle.

What if there is an emergency?

Your safety is our number one priority. Venture Within keeps an updated list of local emergency contacts for each program location. We have set emergency procedures in place and there is always a contact person in country and in our offices throughout North America that can be reached 24/7. There are hospitals nearby, and pharmacies with medication readily available. In addition, you are required to provide us with your emergency contact details on your application form. Venture Within also registers each participant with the local embassies before arrival. Program staff are all certified in First Aid and First Aid kits will be available at each project site and at your accommodation.

Before beginning a project, we complete a risk assessment and evaluate the safety of the project sites to minimize potential hazards. While there is always a potential risk traveling within developing countries, we provide you with orientation at the beginning of your program to minimize these risks and ensure your Venture Within experience is as safe and well structured as possible

What is the accommodation like?

Accommodation varies depending on your project location. Options include privately secured and comfortable housing in our partnering guest houses or beach-side accommodations, which are usually family run. These are a comfortable home-base for you during your Venture Within program. Most facilities include a laundry room, Wi-Fi, hot water showers, and air conditioning. Some will even offer you hammock swings in the garden, or game room. Some of the Venture Within programs will include homestays, where you will be completely immersed in the local culture by living with a family during your program. The type of program you participate in determines your accommodation, and this information will be provided for you once you have secured your place. Please see specific country FAQ’s to find out more details about your accommodation, or contact us at [email protected]

Are there meal options for vegetarians and vegans?

Of course! Many of the local dishes are noodle or rice based and can be made from a variety of local vegetables. You will be sure to enjoy the local cuisine. Just indicate on your application what your dietary needs are, and we will try to accommodate your requests.

What transport in country will be used?

Trains, planes, and automobiles may all be a part of how you will get around. In addition, you may travel by tuk-tuk, bicycle, boat, private van, or bamboo raft, depending on the type of Venture Within program you apply for. In some cases, horse riding may be an enjoyable option of a way to explore the sights, or a surf or sand board. You will have a blast.

How do I organise a flight?

The ideal time to book your flight is 45 – 60 days prior to your departure. This is when you are most likely to find the cheapest airfare.

You are able to use any travel booking agency you wish when organizing your flights, however we’d like to make this process in your travel preparation a bit easier for you. Venture Within has partnered with STA Travel, an international travel organization, to offer exclusive travel booking support and advise to our participants.

To take advantage of STA Travel’s support, please enter your flight requests into STA Travel’s online portal, which has been set up exclusively for Venture Within participants.

Please contact them at http://www.statravel.com/solutions/venture-within.htm or speak with an STA Travel Expert about your travel plans by calling 800-476-3077, email us at [email protected] or chat with us via Live Messenger.

Can I fundraise to pay for my program cost?

Absolutely! Fundraising is not only a great way to off-set your program costs, but also a beautiful way to spread awareness of Venture Within’s mission of developing leadership skills that directly benefit overseas humanitarian and conservation efforts.

Send us an email at [email protected] f you need any information or want some ideas that will help you raise the funds for your program.

How much do the programs cost?

Our Venture Within leadership program costs vary depending on each program location. Flights are not included in the cost.

Costa Rica Venture Within program fees are $3599 USD.

Thailand Venture Within program fees are $3499 USD.

Nicaragua Venture Within program fees are $2499 USD.

Costs are listed in USD as the currency these program expenses incur are charged to Venture Within in USD.

If you are paying in Pounds, Euros, Canadian or Australian dollars, you will need to consider the current exchange rate when making your payments.

Please check http://www.xe.com/ for a current exchange rate.

When do I pay for my trip?

Deposits can be submitted at any time. After reviewing Program information we send you, you will need to make a payment as soon as possible to secure your placement.

In order to keep the quality of our programs to a high standard, a limited number of persons per trip is essential. This way, you get the most out of your Venture Within experience. After your deposit of $500 has been placed, 50% of your remaining balance is due 90 days before your departure date.

The final remaining 50% of your balance is due 30 days before your departure date. This is so that we can prepare and organize the logistics of your program as efficiently as possible. Your balance due date will be included in the acceptance letter Venture Within sends you.

We only accept payments through our online payment option. Sorry, but no personal checks are accepted.

What do the program fees go towards?

Every meal including breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be provided. You will be working hard on your volunteer projects, and building up a hearty appetite. We will provide you with plenty of local cuisine throughout your program. You are welcome to purchase any additional food or snacks from the market or vendors if you want to further sample a wide variety of local bites.

Your daily accommodation is covered in this price.

The transportation from the airport at the beginning of your Venture Within program, as well as returning to the airport when the program finishes. Transportation daily to your volunteer projects, schools, and designated activities will also be included.

There will be a need to provide plenty of building materials and educational resources, such as paint, wood, brick, tools, cement, paper, writing materials, etc., all which are covered in your total program cost.

Some of the volunteer projects require the expertise of local tradesmen, and so Venture Within pays their wages. It is our aim to provide local employment opportunities through our volunteer efforts. We don’t want to take away paid work from locals by having our volunteers do the same work. By hiring local trade works to assist in the projects, we can promote local sustainability and add to the economy of the community.

Many of the local activities you will partake in during the evenings will be hosted by a member of the community, and these costs are part of your Venture Within program.

Venture Within provides donations to the communities where our volunteers are involved.

The Leadership skills development program is an educational course, and the tuition for this course is covered within the program fee.

What is included in the cost?

  • Your comfortable and safe accommodation throughout the duration of the program.
  • Hot water and wifi
  • Transportation to meet the needs of your program, getting to the sites, etc.
  • Three gourmet meals daily. We can cater to vegetarians and for certain types of food allergies.
  • Building materials needed for volunteer projects.
  • Education materials for the village schools.
  • Materials needed for conservation projects.
  • For many projects Venture Within will hire local skilled trades people to help with the volunteer projects.
  • Some of the designated activities that are part of your Venture Within experience.
  • Venture Within’s gifts and donations to the local community.
  • Venture Within staff members.
  • Administration costs.
  • Leadership education course facilitation, materials, and Certification.
  • Some adventure activities (as specified in your Itinerary)

What is the currency I will need?

The Thai currency is Bhat, and generally is about 30 THB for each $1.

The currency in Costa Rica is the Colon (CRC). While Costa Rica is more expensive compared to other Latin countries, you will find it is not an expensive place to live, and services, such as the bus, or a taxi, are relatively cheap. 500 Colones is generally equivalent to $1 USD.

The currency in Nicaragua is the Cordoba (NIO), and 30 NIO is generally about $1 USD.

To find out the current currency exchange rate in the country you will be travelling to, you can go to www.xe.com for the most up to date rates.

How much money do I need?

You may want to bring money for optional activities, such as massages ($50), surf lessons ($50), or horse rides to waterfalls ($20), or to buy gifts for family or friends. You might want to visit some of the local cafés or restaurants, or to sign up for extra activities, depending on which country you are travelling to. Please keep in mind that Nicaragua and Thailand are relatively inexpensive, however Costa Rica is the most expensive country in Central America, with prices similar to US prices.

Where do my funds go?

Your funds are divided between your program costs (including project supplies and donations), staff costs, and overall operational costs.

What if I need to cancel?

If you must cancel, please send an email to [email protected] with “Cancellation” in the subject line. Your deposit is are non-refundable. Depending on how far out you cancel your program, you may only be able to receive partial refund for any instalments made. (Once we’ve paid in-country for your program, we will not be able to refund you). Once you have sent in your payments, Venture Within begins to make arrangements for your placement and purchases towards your program. If you are unable to participate in your program, you will be able to defer your program to another program date. Venture Within will credit your deposit you have made towards an Venture Within of your choice where there is availability within one year of your original program date.

Please email [email protected] should you have any questions, or are unable to participate in your program to discuss your options.

Do I need a visa?

Thailand will allow you to stay in country for the first 30 days and provide you with a visa upon arrival in Thailand, Costa Rica and Nicaragua will both grant a 90 day tourism visa upon arrival. Depending on your nationality, the type of visa and cost will need to be checked prior to your departure. We will provide you with all the information required and will assist you in obtaining any visas required in a timely fashion.

Visa costs are generally cheap, and fairly easy to obtain. Recent participants have paid about $20 – $30, and this cost is likely to be the same for you. Be sure your passport has at least 6 months validity. To help you determine the kind of visa you will need to apply for, visit Visa HQ at www.visahq.com/citizens or http://www.dfat.gov.au/visas/

Do I need insurance?

In order to participate in the program, you MUST purchase international travel insurance that includes unlimited medical coverage. Private health insurance is not enough. Proof of international travel health insurance will be required before departure or you will not be allowed to attend. We recommend using the International Volunteer Card.

The Volunteer Card is an internationally recognized travel protection card that is valid for one year, and offered exclusively to volunteers travelling abroad.

You can obtain this card by contacting them directly at [email protected] or visiting the www.volunteercard.com where their friendly staff will be able to help you obtain the coverage you will need for your Venture Within program.