Volunteer Groups

Alternative Breaks

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For over a decade, we have been working with universities, youth groups and other organizations to facilitate ‘alternative breaks’ throughout the year. Our main work is to accomplish physical tasks that  groups can carry out way more efficiently. By living in the forest, people fall in love with the forest, become aware of new paradigms in thinking about our biosphere, understand ‘sustainable’ in many ways, and learn about alternative ways to live – by living it.

Alternative breaks are a wonderful way to gain a wider world-view, by immersion in diverse cultures, in out-of-comfort-zone situations, living in rustic, extreme, or unusual conditions, and carrying out service work, which may be, and usually is, hard physical labor. Living with the crew at Las Casas de la Selva, you will partake in all aspects of homestead life, (dinners, clean-ups, and learning about composting, wastewater gardens, and use of humanure toilets). As a result, ‘breakers’ usually return to their home or campus environments empowered and confident to positively influence their own communities, artistically or scientifically, and many find themselves altered forever by the experience, with a deeper understanding of what an alternative lifestyle might mean, or exactly what it is that they want to study and commit to, on a life and study path.

What does a service trip to Las Casas de la Selva look like? Most trips are around 8-12 days. A day typically starts with breakfast and then to work. A packed lunch at about 1pm and then another couple of hours of work. This is as flexible as you need it to be. We appreciate that on these breaks, groups need time for their own activities (journal-writing, circles, reflections etc.).  You will also have the opportunity to have a day off, an afternoon off, and a salsa dance class. Your first day will include a full safety briefing and a ground rules agreement between us all. It is important to be flexible. You are coming to the rainforest. When it rains we usually carry on with our tasks, but some tasks are dangerous to carry out in rain, especially very heavy rains, so we head to the homestead and do other fun things, until it stops.
Types of duties may include:

Plant Nursery Work

Horticulture/Organic Gardening

Trail   Design and Maintenance

Tree   Identification

Pruning

Tree   Tagging

Home   Repairs

Carpentry

Tree   Planting

Tool  Maintenance

Permaculture

Workshop Management

Cement &  construction

Bridge-building

Painting

Data entry

Drainage ditch digging

Educational Trail Displays

Building/Repair

Cleaning

Scientific investigation

Homestead Maintenance

Many hands make light work, and there are all kinds of tasks at this forest project that we need help with. We welcome groups to be in touch with us to facilitate and create a life changing service work-experience. We will plan with you to tailor an unforgettable service trip for your group.  If there is a task that you feel your group is particularly skilled at and could start or accomplish a project in the time here please let us know.

For more info on Group Collaborations, please email: Thrity ‘3t’ Vakil

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Check out other potential Institute of Ecotechnic projects to volunteer at!

Testimonials

“Las Casas de La Selva is a tranquil collection of lodging areas, a dining hall, and a communal kitchen, encompassed by tropical gardens that blend into the surrounding tropical forest. Since 2004 I’ve visited over 20 times as the director of volunteer groups of students and adults. The groups constructed hiking trails, cabins, compost structures, greenhouses, walkways, and a large multi-use theater – all to sustain the mission of Las Casas de la Selva. While this place is about as remote as one can get in Puerto Rico, the people and spirit of Las Casas exude a familiar warmth that I always anticipated when visiting the island. The leadership team and their dedicated volunteers who call it home enhance the importance of this special project in the rainforest. The atmosphere they create combines educational experiences with group living, which in turn instill environmental consciousness and harmony. I remember my times there fondly and recommend groups of all types to experience Las Casas de La Selva for a unique service experience that is equally local and global”.   Brian Difeothemobilemedialab.com

“I have had the pleasure of working with Las Casas de la Selva/Tropic Ventures through a program called Global Works. We have been working with them for years, as their goal and mission of forest research and sustainability fully align with our mission as a youth travel company. The location and rugged nature of the area is absolutely beautiful. Our students, who after working and traveling throughout PR always say Las Casas was the best part of the trip. There are unique opportunities for work at Las Casas; over the years we have built lodging, retaining walls, trails, and helped plant trees. There is always a new project going on that makes the work different and exciting every time we are there. I learn so much from being in the jungle with 3T and Andrés; they make this project run like a well-oiled machine. They are both excellent with youth, and have such passion for what they do, it is truly inspiring. I would recommend this place to anyone who has a chance to visit.  I always leave LC with a renewed outlook on life and what is important in our world. If only there were more places like this!  Thanks 3T & Andrés”.     Jesse Woodworth