VISIONS is a summer volunteer program that surpasses the superficial, an experience that is carefully structured and well supervised without seeming so. You live in the heart of a community, working side-by-side with your hosts, getting to know the people whose lives you impact. You work hard, play hard and make a difference. You gain an appreciation for our multicultural world and return home a more informed world citizen.
VISIONS collaborates with local nonprofits and makes long-term commitments in host communities. Projects are equally ambitious and gratifying. Students spend about 50% of the time on volunteer projects, working until mid-afternoon on weekdays and typically choosing among three worksites each day. Service is the way we thank the communities who welcome us into their lives.
Every VISIONS program undertakes at least one central construction project. Construction projects address pressing needs in our communities and teach valuable skills: problem-solving, resilience, teamwork. You won't just carry buckets of nails or pass power tools to our leaders – you do the work and learn from professionals. Community partners choose projects confident in VISIONS high standards and in our teen volunteers' capabilities.
Programs include non-construction service, as well. Depending on the location, you may volunteer with children, do environmental and agricultural projects, create irrigation and drinking water systems. Once a week you are on "homebase crew" to make breakfast, shop at local markets and do errands as part of "a day in the life." Your days are jam-packed with many ways to contribute, discover your potential, and simply have fun.
"I helped build a school in a foreign country, with tools I had never used before, and with people I had not known one month ago."
Francis Biere – Indianapolis, Indiana
Since 1989 we've built over 1,100 structures and done countless hours of social and environmental service.
- Community Centers
- Cisterns & Wells
- Park Pavilions
- Medical Clinics
- Potable Water Systems
- Irrigation Canals
- Environmental Walkways
- Wildlife Observation Decks
- Clean Burning Stoves
- Sweat Lodges
- Athletic Courts
- Medicinal Gardens
- Fire Houses
Three or four projects are accomplished during any one VISIONS program.SEE ALL PROJECTS
CULTURAL & LANGUAGE IMMERSION
Cultural learning and friendship are core to VISIONS. You experience the culture in a way that is uniquely different from being a tourist. You share a common goal and work with local people to achieve it. You may be surprised by what you have in common with people whose lives are so different from yours.
LIVING IN THE COMMUNITY
Effective members of any community participate in community life wherever they live. VISIONS teens and leaders live together in a community center, school or house in a neighborhood, involved in neighborhood life, engaged with people who may have worked with VISIONS groups for a decade or more. More than a youth summer camp or teen tour, VISIONS provides committed time in a community for real friendships and understanding to grow.
SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE
VISIONS works in places with vibrant cultures and lively public life. Because you are part of the community and not just passing through, opportunities abound to learn the language. In our French- and Spanish-language immersion programs where local people do not speak English, you increase your foreign language skills while socializing with neighborhood friends, doing service projects, shopping at markets, and more.
I felt like part of community rather than a roaming visitor.
Natalie Gonzalez – Bailey, Colorado
Our staff to student ratio is 1 to 4.
Hard work deserves time off to play and unwind. VISIONS sites offer a variety of summer adventure, scenery and history. We explore cultural and natural sites in ways that are engaging and fun. Because all VISIONS teen summer programs offer volunteer projects and cultural immersion, you might choose a program based on the geography and excursions that interest you most.
We take full advantage of our time, including many afternoons after the work day is over. Non-work activities include workshops with artisans, exploring markets, visiting ancient ruins, day hikes, backpacking, canoeing, climbing, swimming, sports and games with neighbors, and more. We go to family barbeques, celebrations and festivals, visit elders in their homes to hear their stories, and organize summer camps for local children.
WEEKENDS ARE FOR TRAVEL
You will do things and go places not to be missed, such as the Galapagos in Ecuador or Machu Picchu in Peru, wildernesses in Montana and Alaska, tropical beaches in the Caribbean, New Orleans just over the Mississippi border, wildlife sanctuaries in Ghana, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and crater lakes in Nicaragua. From our local home base, we travel far afield for adventures that round out an unbelievably full summer.