Students and adults who step outside their comfort zone, whether it be in an inner city or in a rural area, benefit by living in a community and making a difference. Clients experience first hand how good it feels to give back and contribute to something larger than themselves. Service opportunities abound domestically and worldwide in every type of environment-desert, mountains, rural, urban, or tropical. Often times American not-for-profit organizations with 501c3 status allow the cost of the trip to be tax-deductible. Some national programs offer leadership and team building and do not charge a participation fee. They also award an educational stipend upon completion if relevant.
Students who would like to improve their academic standing for initial or re-application to colleges, or who would like to train/compete in a specific sport, can apply for a post-graduate year to boarding schools in the United States and abroad (Canada, England, Scotland). Parents may feel an additional year of high school will improve grades, standardized test scores, and allow time for the student to mature. There are over 50 boarding schools in the United States alone that offer post-graduate years.
Programs offering work internships in a variety of career and professional arenas can be found both domestically and internationally. Through connections students will frequently find paying jobs or accommodations-for-work placements on their own. An unstructured plan, although riskier, can often evolve into a valuable experience for the student in terms of acquiring basic life and professional skills. Mid/post career adults can offer a specific skill set that is invaluable.
Adults and students who would like to experience another culture have many choices of programs overseas. They include homestays with families, language studies, travel, teaching English, cultural activities, and community service. Unstructured travel is another possibility requiring a certain amount of independence and advance planning.
Students and adults interested in the environment will experience “adventure travel” since conservation programs often involve hiking, diving, tracking, and a fieldwork component. If a client possesses a passion for or professional working experience in biodiversity, marine biology, animals, forestry, there are a multitude of national and foreign options available.
Students and adults who want a physically and emotionally challenging outdoor experience will develop leadership and team work skills as well as self-confidence. Some organizations offer students opportunities to sail around the globe on tall ships while learning about the ocean. Long established programs provide reliable, safe experiences that often “transform” lives.
Time out offers a chance to delve into an area of interest, passion, or expertise. Studies in the arts, music, dance, acting, film making, cooking, art history, archaeology, politics, peace and justice issues are all available.