High School Outdoor Education Programs Abroad

Back to Programs

A Guide to High School Outdoor Education Abroad

Your teenage years mark a new era where the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” loses its lighthearted demeanor and becomes stressful. This is the perfect time to escape this anxiety-inducing question and go abroad! Uprooting from familiarity and venturing out to experience life in another culture will prompt revelations yourself and the world as you know it. Outdoor education programs are daring, exciting, and call for boldness and enthusiasm that will invite you deeper into life. Mr. Adventure himself, Peter Pan, said, “To live would be an awfully big adventure.” Deploy your passions and embark on the outdoor adventure of a lifetime!

Why Participate in Outdoor Education

If you’ve ever traveled, then you’ve probably experienced the new lease on life you gain upon returning home. Outdoor education amplifies this and pushes you outside your comfort zone, putting those difficult upcoming life choices into perspective. You also may find dreams and desires rising to the surface that you never knew you had in you! Pondering these thoughts in the absence of the pressures and expectations of others is refreshing (to say the least).

High school students nowadays have easy access to a world of information through the internet. However, they still need to be guided through the process of discovery, so that a deeper understanding of their own place in the world can be established. When wanderlust grabs a hold of you and demands an adventure, it will not settle for an imitation. Physical activity, cultural interaction, and engagement with nature are the three staples of outdoor education programs and cannot be harmoniously found within the realm of your comfort zone. If that makes your heart race then keep reading; you’re in the right place.

Best Places for Outdoor Education

It may seem overwhelming to decide where you should go for your ourdoor education program in high school, but do not fear! There is undoubtedly a place out there that is tailored to fit your personality. Outdoor education programs usually move throughout several locations in a given region, allowing high schoolers to experience a number of different places and excursions.

Explored by horseback, foot, or kayak, Costa Rica is a tropical choose-your-own-adventure land where all trails lead to waterfalls. However, Costa Rica offers a suite of outdoor adventures for high school students in every shape and size. Rainforest hikes, rushing white water rapids, world class surfing, and the rush of a canopy zip line will definitely leave you in an sundazed siesta on the beach at the end of the day.

Mexico conjures up diverse, vivid dreams of adventure that come to life. If the chili-laden cuisine doesn’t set you on fire, the abundance of adventure sure will! With jungles, volcanoes, and a long coastline strung with sandy beaches and wildlife-rich lagoons, Mexico is an endless adventure for the senses and a place where life is lived largely in the open air. Spend your days hiking Oaxaca's mountain cloud forests, backpacking through the Mayan ruins, or snorkeling the warm Caribbean reefs.

Every country in the world displays diversity, but South Africa takes some beating. It sits at the southern end of the world’s most epic continent, with more types of terrain to explore than photographers can shake their zoom lens at. Trek the West MacDonnell Ranges, Climb Mount Sonder, or cruise the Okavango Delta in a dugout canoe while marveling the raw beauty of the country.

Types of High School Outdoor Education

High school outdoor education programs are typically shorter, usually lasting only a few weeks, but include jam-packed itineraries with activities ranging from community service to lessons in cooking and dancing to group trekking. Homestays are the norm and fluency in the local language isn’t usually necessary, but always a bonus! To begin your search, start to think what kind of adventure is calling you.

Calling all extreme sports junkies! Looking to get your daily dose of adrenaline? Learn to surf or take your skills to the next level during surf and service programs. When you’re not surfing, work directly with local families helping to improve their homes and standard of living. Still craving more? You’ll also have the chance to go whitewater rafting and rappel down waterfalls.  

Animal lovers and tree huggers unite! If you frequently find yourself lecturing your friends the benefits of recycling and vegetarianism, take a gander at some environmental conservation programs. Keen to learn how to identify key fish and coral species, and how to conduct reef-based research? Learn first-hand the issues facing marine ecosystems while earning your PADI Advanced Open Water qualification. Students will gain insight into global volunteering to enrich their knowledge of the world they live in and contribute to long-term conservation projects.

If you prefer land to sea, opt for a wildlife awareness program; grow your passion for conservation and discovering nature untouched by adventuring through national parks. Students can learn to identify and track animals, survive in the wild, and navigate by the stars in the protected areas of the country. Kick-start your conservation career and grasp the opportunity to make a difference and contribute to these exciting projects! During your free time you can join in on activities like horseback riding, biking, and whitewater rafting.

More of a people-person? If you think Mother Earth is a great gal but would rather work with people, quench your thirst for adventure by helping communities in need. Volunteer to help impoverished women and children in a refugee centers. Assist in teaching sustainable skills that will help them survive and succeed in the future. You will also alleviate the social injustices faced by the children through alternative and after-school programs.

Benefits of Outdoor Education Programs

Character Building. The moment in which you realize that Spanish has a life beyond your high school textbook or when you participate in the inevitable awkward dinner conversation with your host family, that is where you earn your stripes. These character-building experiences bring out the best and worst in all of us and teach us so much.

Growth. At an age where fostering independence and personal growth is key, traveling is a real catalyst. Whether it’s learning how to navigate public transit or figuring out how to converse in another language, venturing abroad is the kind of experience that you just can’t help but grow from. You will undoubtedly return home a more confident and fulfilled person after an adventure abroad; there isn’t a parent in the world that doesn’t want this for their teenager!

Mad Skillz. Forming a sense of global awareness during your formative years will result in many transferable skills that will remain with you for life. Companies cannot find enough applicants with the requisite skills to operate in an international market place. This indicates that individuals who foster global awareness will be rewarded with a college application fast tracked for early admission or maybe a resume bumped to the top of the list.

The Parental Signature. Convincing your parents you won’t be starring in the next Taken movie may be your biggest challenge of all. One critical step required before you can start packing your bags is gaining Mom and Dad's blessing (and financial support). Do your homework and provide them with as much information as possible, especially with regards to your personal safety. Before you do so, finish your chores and remember to tell them you love them. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Resist your tendency to search for the easiest route through high school. What makes your heart race, your blood pump, and your spirit soar? The road most traveled can keep you safe, but can also be detrimental. Don’t stay on that path just because it’s convenient; experience is the best of teachers. Make the decision to travel meaningfully and adventurously!

Read More

written by:

A Guide To
High School Outdoor Education Abroad


 Explore Outdoor Education Teen Travel Programs


Westcoast Connection | Switzerland Summer 2018

Join Westcoast Connection on the summer of a lifetime to Switzerland. This European nation may be famously neutral, but once you’ve discovered lush meadows, breathtaking peaks, charming alpine villages, looking glass lakes and peaceful vibe, you’ll definitely be taking sides. Go on a roaring whitewater rafting excursion in the resort village of Interlaken and challenge yourself at an indoor c...


This listing has been saved 3 times

Summer Adventure in Scotland - There's No Place Like It

Exclusive International Summer School for ages 12-17. Located in the historical “Heartland of Scotland", students visit vibrant university cities as well as breath-taking tourist attractions. Classes include Golf, Tennis English, Entrepreneurship, Photography, Law, and Theatre as well as lots of other fun activities. Spend this summer making memories and friendships that last forever.


This listing has been saved 22 times

SPI High School Italian Language Immersion in Tuscany

In the heart of Tuscany and a short distance from Florence, Siena is one of the major cultural centers of Italy, making it a perfect destination for SPI Study Abroad’s Italian program! The region is rich in history as Etruscan, Roman, Medieval, and Renaissance influences are visible everywhere. SPI Siena program participants will study the Italian language, culture and history, while experienci...


This listing has been saved 13 times

Care & Community Work in Peru for Teens

Dedicate your time and skills contributing to the Care & Community project of Projects Abroad. As a volunteer, a big chunk of your time will be spent on practical activities like gardening, cleaning, painting, and renovating. On the other hand, some will be spent collaborating with local Peruvians in various areas, including a kindergarten or elderly care home. You will take Spanish lessons...


This listing has been saved 6 times

Germany: 2-3 Week Program - Explore Bavaria

Students who participate in the two-week short-term cultural and language program will have the opportunity to live with a German host family in Nuremburg, Bavaria. The host family portion of the program will last two weeks, with language courses and afternoon activities. Program dates are July 9-23 with an optional one-week extension tour to Weimer, Berlin and Munich for an additional $1,200.


This listing has been saved 17 times

CIP - China High School Program with Immersion and Trips

High School abroad programs score highest with the potential of global convergence and cultural integration in our recent research. In this program, youngsters are exposed to different cultures and values at an early stage rather than waiting till they are old. Studying abroad isn't just for college students come learn, discover and understand the world for yourself with China Internship Place...


This listing has been saved 19 times

TFT for Older Teens: Amsterdam, Munich, Swiss Alps & Venice

Our Older Teens programs are specially designed with older teens in mind. We are all a hands-on approach to travel, where we go beyond the casual tourist experience, take public transportation, and learn how daily life really is in each place we visit. We provide a unique and carefully crafted itinerary that allows for more challenges and independence. We encourage teens on these trips to...


This listing has been saved 1 time

AFS Intercultural Programs: High School Abroad in Hungary

Hungary boasts small hamlets, rustic churches, soaring castles, and cafes. The countryside is out of a storybook, and its national heroes are poets and writers. However, its culture, lifestyle, and food are shaped by both Western and Eastern Europe. Budapest, the country's capital, is often called the Paris of Eastern Europe because of its broad avenues, graceful architecture, many parks, and b...


This listing has been saved 32 times

Great High School Programs—Costa Rica | Guatemala | Peru

Maximo Nivel offers high quality, affordable, and safe programs for individual teens and high school groups in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Our academically-rigorous programs are designed to be fun and challenging adventures for teens. High School programs include: - Native Spanish Program - Service Learning / Volunteer Abroad - Adventure & Culture programs - Spanish Camp -...


This listing has been saved 11 times

High School Volunteer and Adventure Experience in Nepal

Leave your comfort zone and come and experience a true cultural immersion in Nepal, Pokhara. This region is a melting pot of multiple religions, languages, musical influence and foods, giving you a wonderful opportunity to expand your world view. You will be living in a traditional Nepali village, attending daily local language lessons, delving deeper into the local customs and traditions, all ...


This listing has been saved 23 times

Summer in Nice - French, Art, Fashion and Cuisine

Since 1987 Summerfuel in Nice has given high school students the unique opportunity to live and learn at the historic Lycee Massena. Participants get the chance to go beyond the classroom, and experience France in its real-life context. Nice is located on the fabulous Mediterranean coastline of France and is a famous cosmopolitan center of exclusive summer resorts, cuisine, culture, and art, of...


This listing has been saved 4 times

The Netherlands: LGBTQ+ Rights & Dutch Culture

Begin your journey with a stay in a castle, then learn to travel like locals with a bike tour around Heemskerk before heading to Amsterdam. There, see the city’s canals, visit important cultural landmarks, such as the Anne Frank House & Artis Zoo, and share daily life with a local family during a homestay. You will attend workshops on gender & transgender issues, marriage rights, and other soci...


This listing has been saved 8 times

API High School : Discover Britain at Harlaxton College

Join API for an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience this summer, living and learning in an English country manor house in true Hogwarts style! You will live and eat the majority of your meals, including a welcome banquet in the manor house and your classes will be held in the staterooms. Orientation will be held in London where we will spend 3 days seeing the major sites. There will be ...


This listing has been saved 10 times

Come on Safari with Campus Education Australia!

When you are on the High school foreign exchange in Sydney Australia with Campus Education Australia you will also have the opportunity to join the optional Safari adventure to the Barrier Reef, Opal fields, Uluru, Australian outback with a bunch of other students from all parts of the world also on Australia cultural exchange. Join us on an amazing Outback and Reef camping safari 10-12 da...


This listing has been saved 3 times

GoBeyond Peru - Sacred Valley Service

Volunteer to help the impoverished women and their children in Peru with GoBeyond. Casa Mantay, a Cuzco center founded by Raquel and Sergio, serves as a refugee center for teenage mothers and children. Here, they are taught sustainable skills that will help them survive and even succeed in the future. Yuri, an inspirational director at Aldea Yanapay, help alleviate the social injustices faced b...