Our Story

VISIONS has set the standard for international community service programs for high school and middle school students for almost 30 years. Collaborative service work and cross-cultural living help our teen volunteers understand a complicated world and learn meaningful ways to contribute productively.

 

est. 1988

Our roots go back to the early 1970s when a few New York friends and educators relocated to a Pennsylvania farm to establish an experiential summer camp for teens. Years of summers in this setting taught us that kids loved the camaraderie, the physical labor, and the shared sense of purpose. Teens thrived while working and living together. The idea of VISIONS sprang from this knowledge. Teenagers want to be part of something bigger and are willing to work hard to meet big goals. In 1988, we created a kind of Peace Corps for youth, sensing that this kind of volunteerism would appeal to teens. We were right. Learn more about the VISIONS story.

We're Different

A community service program from the start, VISIONS transcends a tourist experience by engaging teens on a deep level with host communities. You and your group will be responding to local needs while actively participating in local life.

Community Service is Our Core

VISIONS teens have accomplished service work in cross-cultural settings for 27 years. We specialize in organizing meaningful projects that have active community involvement. Projects are ambitious, gratifying, and fun. Like the students before you, you will learn solid skills and choose your worksite each day, so you can work on the projects that interest you most. While many summer teen programs incorporate service, VISIONS is a good fit for students who want to concentrate on real service that truly impacts a community, while engaging with the local people.

VISIONS is Not a Teen Tour

Your experience will not include touring all through a country and doing projects as you go. Instead, you will anchor down in the heart of a local neighborhood with your group members and leaders. You will live the rhythm of daily life, truly getting to know the place and people. In the afternoons, after work, there is often time for excursions and activities in the community. Weekends are for travel to the main attractions, so you will have the opportunity to experience some of the most exciting cultural sites and adventures.

Leader to Student Ratio is 1 to 4 or 5

Leader ratios are important for creating safe, high-quality experiences. The leader ratio you will have with VISIONS is one of the highest among summer programs. Furthermore, the minimum age is 22—older than most programs—and our annual leader return rate is approximately 50 percent. Your leaders have diverse experiences working with youth and include returned Peace Corps volunteers, graduate and Ph.D. students, teachers, and experiential educators. We also employ local project coordinators, drivers, and cooks, many of whom have worked with VISIONS since our first seasons in their communities.

We Return to the Same Communities

VISIONS collaborates at the grassroots level, committed to our community partners. We have lived and worked in the Dominican Republic, Montana Indian reservations, and British Virgin Islands for more than two decades. Most other sites have hosted VISIONS teens for more than 15 years. When we develop new programs, we do so with long-term partnerships in mind. These enduring relationships translate into exceptional opportunities for deep cultural learning. You will interact with local people who know and care for us. And you will leave with a deeper understanding of what life is like in other parts of the world.

Our Philosophy

Through service work and cross-cultural living, VISIONS offers new perspectives and deep learning while assisting under-resourced communities.