Volunteer Groups

Alternative Service Experience

For nearly two decades, 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 efficiently carry. 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 Service Experiences are 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.

Since Hurricane Maria’s devastating impacts in 2017, many tasks involve clearing and pruning, and re-establishing trails and paths around the homestead. Since the beginning of 2020, Puerto Rico as a whole has suffered from the impacts of earthquakes and then Covid19. The complete shutdown has been quite devastating for our project and we are slowly picking up the pieces. Please get in touch to see how your group can still volunteer safely in this time.

Types of duties may include:

Plant Nursery Work
Horticulture/Organic Gardening
Trail Design and Maintenance
Tree Identification
Tree Tagging
Home Repairs
Tree Planting
Tool Maintenance
Workshop Management
Cement & construction
Data entry
Drainage ditch digging
Educational Trail Displays
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


“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…” Read full testimony

Jesse Woodworth

Jesse Woodworth

“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…” Read full testimony

Brian Difeo

Brian Difeo