It’s never too early to start paving the way for your future in the for-good sector. In fact, your teen years can be the best time to learn about global issues and make a positive impact in the world.
Volunteer work for teens is about development in every sense. GVI’s volunteer programs benefit not only communities and environments, but also our participants.
Each project works towards advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). The UN SDGs are 17 global goals that target issues such as health, education, poverty and the climate crisis. Joining a project that sets out to achieve these goals means you can play an active role in making an impact in the world.
Personal development is also on the agenda. Teen volunteer programs are an ideal way to build practical skills and cultural sensitivity outside of the classroom.
You and your parents can be confident that during our volunteer programs, you’ll receive all the training, support and mentorship you need from world-class experts.
On top of that, the work you’ll be doing comes with a generous helping of adventure.
You might scuba dive while completing coral reef surveys, track wildlife in the jungle, or learn another language as you carry out community work. And, there’ll be plenty of excursions over weekends where you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in local cultures.
Let us introduce you to 10 exciting volunteer opportunities.
1) Join a conservation program in the Seychelles
If your desktop background features sandy beaches and swaying palm trees, and you’re pretty sure there was a mermaid somewhere in your family tree, a volunteer program in the Seychelles is an ideal choice.
GVI’s programs in the Seychelles offer an island experience like no other – it’s just nature unfiltered. Surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the islands of the Seychelles are every bit as beautiful as glossy travel magazines would have you believe, but there is a great deal of conservation work that needs to be done.
2) Assist with women’s empowerment initiatives in Ghana
A volunteer program in Ghana will allow you to immerse yourself in the culture of a seaside city on the West African coastline.
Our base is located in the town of Kokrobite, 30 kilometres west of Accra, the capital city of Ghana. Accra is made up of plains that were once home to some of Africa’s greatest kingdoms, like the Ashanti Kingdom.
Every day on your chosen program, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the role that women’s empowerment and quality education play in community development. You’ll assist with skills and English language development workshops to assist women to empower themselves in their communities.
3) Contribute to whale and dolphin conservation in the Canary Islands
A landmass created three million years ago from volcanic activity, the beautiful Spanish island of Tenerife forms part of the Canary Islands archipelago.
Working with a group of teen volunteers, on this program you’ll learn about environmental issues and assist with activities that contribute to whale and dolphin conservation. You’ll soon see how making a positive impact can make a trip abroad that much more meaningful.
On daily boat trips off the coast, you’ll contribute to surveys that monitor the behaviour and characteristics of pods of cetaceans – marine mammals. And when you’re on land, you’ll get involved in work aimed at addressing plastic pollution and the challenges of climate change alongside field experts.
Some chaperoned activities over the weekend might also include exploring the islands and taking part in the many adventure activities they have to offer – like snorkelling and sea kayaking.
4) Assist nesting turtles in Greece
Can you picture yourself working with one of the most endangered species in the Mediterranean, in one of the most eye-catching locations on the planet?
This program is based in Giannitsochori, where you might witness the breeding cycle of loggerhead turtles before your very own eyes: from the laying of eggs through to triumphant hatchlings breaking out of their shells.
Your duties as a teen volunteer will be to record the turtle nesting activity and help safeguard the hatchlings as they wobble their way to the sea.
If you have a case of wanderlust, this program might just provide the cure. You’ll be camping right next to a sandy white beach, and you’ll have plenty of time to hang out along the seaside.
Weekends spent walking around will give you the chance to experience the history, architecture, and food that Greece is famous for.
5) Answer the call of the wild in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. With turtles, birds and jaguars, animal lovers should make a beeline for GVI’s wildlife conservation project.
Based in Tortuguero National Park, this teen volunteer program is focused on conserving Costa Rica’s rainforests.
This is an opportunity to not only learn more about wildlife conservation, but to share your passion with the local community by raising awareness about environmental issues.
While staying in the camp accommodation, you’ll be fully immersed in jungle life: surrounded by sounds of wildlife, a tropical climate and lessons in living sustainably.
6) Reach new heights with a volunteer experience in Nepal
Aim high and take on this top-rated youth travel program, set among the tallest peaks in the world.
In the mountainous surrounds of Nepal, you and other volunteers can participate in improving learning environments at local educational facilities we partner with. Working alongside local workers, projects can include adding more desks to classrooms, renovations of the library or bathrooms, and building and repainting walls.
As well as being immersed in Nepali culture, a highlight of this youth volunteer opportunity is the opportunity to experience a trekking tour, which can be easily arranged through our partners at Skylark Himalayan Tours and Travels,
7) Jump for joy on an active education program in South Africa
Calling all kinetic learners! Come and share your passion for movement with children in Cape Town, South Africa.
In your role as a volunteer on this sports program, you can teach children how to lead healthier lifestyles through participating in sports, and how to be part of a team by facilitating group sports lessons after school.
By connecting with students through sport, lessons are interactive and fun, and boost their learning experience.
You’ll also be assisting teachers with lessons in English during the week, and enjoying the sights of Cape Town over weekends.
8) Learn about wildlife in South Africa
Ever wanted to navigate by the stars, learn how to survive in the wild, or discover more about some of the most interesting animals on the planet?
Be surrounded by stretches of nature as you learn how to safeguard the wildlife in South Africa’s bushveld.
This conservation awareness program offers an unfiltered look at African wildlife: a front-row seat to one of the greatest experiences in the world. Watch lions stalk their prey, giraffes peer out from behind trees, and elephants rumble across the veld.
This is an active education program focused on the challenges facing Africa’s wildlife. It’s a chance to get involved in implementing solutions, and may even inspire you to continue wildlife conservation work long after the program is over.
9) Dip a toe into marine conservation in Mexico
Where better to get a taste for aquatic life than in the waters off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula? Here, you can explore conservation while learning to dive.
This PADi diving and marine conservation program for under 18s takes you into the watery heart of some of the best dive locations on the planet, where you can learn about efforts to protect this underwater realm.
The data collected by GVI’s monitoring program, and volunteers like you, is aimed at contributing to the long-term conservation of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.
Meanwhile, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Open Water Diver course teaches you how to dive, so you’ll return home a certified diver.
10) Dive a little deeper into marine conservation with a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course in Mexico
Take your dive skills to the next level and earn your PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification. The course is one step up from the PADI Open Water Diver certification, and will prepare you for adventure dives.
With your new-found skills you can dive even deeper into the underwater world and get more involved with coral reef research. During dives, you’ll record vital data, and learn how to identify dozens of fish and coral species.
This program could steer you into a career in marine biology, professional diving, or conservation. You’ll be working alongside seasoned experts who can mentor you and give you an exclusive glimpse into what working in the field is really like.
Plus, with Mayan cities and tropical jungles on the shore, and swirling shoals of fish below sea level, you’ll be swimming in fun activities.
These teen volunteer projects abroad make it clear that the only prerequisites you need to volunteer are a curiosity about the world and the motivation to make a meaningful contribution.
We know you may have questions about how COVID-19 will affect your travel plans, so we put together some FAQs to explain the measures we have implemented to ensure your safety.
Disclaimer: The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.
Browse GVI’s top-rated volunteer opportunities for teens and see how you can put your passion for adventure and volunteering into action today.