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School Break Volunteer Program in Ecuador - Santa Elena

Apply now. The next available start date for this project is Jan 10, 2022

For those looking for variety, this is a great way of helping children in a range of ways while they’re on holiday from school. For students from working families, the holiday time between March-April is often unsupervised, leading to time alone or on the streets. By volunteering during school holidays, you can help to make this time beneficial and enjoyable.

School break volunteer in Santa Elena, Ecuador with IVHQ

Volunteers teach a range of subjects including English, music, art, recreation, sports, geography, health and ecology. You’ll support local instructors in working with school students who range in age, with lessons structured around a specific concept and a supporting activity.

This project works toward a final presentation at the end of the school break, in which the students’ parents are invited to attend. This is incredibly important as it not only increases children’s confidence, but shows parents the value of education, which they often haven’t been privileged to have themselves.

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Project Highlights
What you need to know
  • Affordable fees from $365 for 1 week
  • Volunteer in school holiday programs

  • Help with supplementary lessons for students of a range of ages

  • Build towards a presentation for their parents at the end of the holidays

  • Suited to enthusiastic, lively volunteers who work well with children

  • Only available in March-April

  • Basic Spanish recommended but not required

  • Volunteer for up to 6 hours per day

Destination Highlights
Ecuador at a glance
  • Based in the southern city of Santa Elena, on Ecuador’s Pacific coast

  • Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, breakfast and dinner each day and 24/7 in-country support

  • Accommodation in a volunteer house

  • Between 5 and 20 volunteers start in Santa Elena each month

Fill out the quick form below to find out what the Covid-19 restrictions and visa requirements are for Ecuador, based on your country of residence.

The IVHQ Ecuador - Santa Elena volunteer program has volunteer placements located in Ecuador’s coastal city of Santa Elena and surrounding areas. On the Pacific coast, Santa Elena is in close proximity to some of Ecuador’s best beaches and archeological history. Despite this aesthetic beauty, there is a great need for volunteers to assist with the development of this city and its communities, especially as tourism to the area grows.

Volunteer programs begin every Monday. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 12 weeks.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive into José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE) in Guayaquil. You should arrive on the Sunday prior to your program start date and the airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee. When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a driver from the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Santa Elena, which can take up to 2 hours. We recommend that volunteers under the age of 18 travel internationally with a notarized letter from their parents to support their documentation.

Orientation is hosted by our local team at the volunteer offices in Santa Elena. Orientation begins the morning of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Ecuador – Introduction to Ecuador, Ecuadorian Customs, Language Training Details, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in Ecuador, Introduction to your Project and Placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and make plans for weekend travel and socializing.

Weekdays: Please note that volunteering on the Ecuador program is held Tuesday through Friday (expect to participate for full days, unless you’re also taking Spanish language lessons, in which case you will volunteer for half days). Therefore the weekends on the program are Saturday through Monday.

7.30AM Breakfast at the volunteer house or homestay.

8.00AM Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements. Work and hours are dependent on the project and placement that each volunteer is working at. There is a break for lunch and volunteers are responsible for the purchase of this meal.

2.00PM - 5.00PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel home, prepare for the next day, or do some shopping and sightseeing. If volunteers are taking Spanish language lessons, these will usually take place in the afternoons and last between 2 and 3 hours.

7.30PM Dinner at the volunteer house or homestay.

Evenings: To ensure the safety of our volunteers and respect of others in the volunteer​ ​​accommodation, a curfew of 1​0:30​ PM has been put in place​ from Monday to Thursday and a 1:30 AM curfew for Friday to Sunday. Volunteers under the age of 18 will have a curfew of 8pm.

Please note, this schedule will vary depending on the project the volunteer is participating on. If a volunteer is taking Spanish language lessons, they will usually volunteer for half the day and spend the other half (3 to 4 hours) taking Spanish language lessons.

Volunteers on the Ecuador program can also join social clubs arranged by the local staff. The social clubs give volunteers the opportunity to meet volunteers from other projects and share in their experiences on the program. Club activities include free conversational Spanish groups, Ecuadorian movie nights and salsa lessons! All of the club activities are held in the afternoon, after volunteers have finished at their placement, and range in cost from $5 - $10.

Volunteers are accommodated alongside other IVHQ volunteers in a volunteer house. Bedrooms can be comprised of single beds or bunk beds, in rooms shared with up to 5 other volunteers of the same gender. Living is comfortable and the volunteer house has electricity, running water and western bathrooms. There is WiFi available and a great patio area with hammocks for volunteers to relax and socialize after volunteering. To ensure the safety of our volunteers and respect of others in the volunteer​ ​accommodation, a curfew of 1​0:30​ PM has been put in place​ from Monday to Thursday and a 1:30 AM curfew for Friday to Sunday.

WiFi is available in the cafe across the road from the volunteer accommodation, or you can purchase a local SIM card with data for an unlocked phone when you arrive in Ecuador.

Volunteers are provided with breakfast and dinner, 7 days per week while on the Ecuador volunteer program. Breakfast generally consists of tea or coffee, cereals, local breads, condiments, and fruit and cheese. Dinners will be a mixture of traditional Ecuadorian meals (meat or vegetarian stews, rice, vegetables or potatoes) and western meals. Carbohydrates, such as potatoes, bananas, plantains, bread and rice are common ingredients for Ecuadorian dishes. Please note that it is not possible for the local team to accommodate a vegan diet on the Ecuador - Santa Elena program. IVHQ offers plenty of destinations which can cater to a vegan diet, so please get in touch with us if this presents an issue for you. Otherwise, if you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you. However, we need to stress the point that you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of, but as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible.

Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
1 week $365 Equivalent to $53/day
2 weeks $495 Equivalent to $36/day
3 weeks $660 Equivalent to $32/day
4 weeks $795 Equivalent to $29/day
5 weeks $960 Equivalent to $28/day
6 weeks $1,095 Equivalent to $27/day
8 weeks $1,355 Equivalent to $25/day
10 weeks $1,685 Equivalent to $25/day
12 weeks $1,905 Equivalent to $23/day
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast and Dinner
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Airport pick-up
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on language lessons
  • Certificate of International Volunteering

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of $299 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, souvenirs, in-country trips or tours.
  • Transfer back to the airport at conclusion of the program.
  • Spanish lessons (optional).
  • Spending money - Volunteers in Ecuador generally find US$30 to be sufficient for weekly expenses.

During the weekends (Saturday through Monday), volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of the Ecuadorian coast, Guayaquil and Ecuador. Long weekends can be taken to travel further afield to explore the amazing national parks of Ecuador or Galapagos Islands. If you are interested in art, culture and history, you can check out Guayaquil, Ecuador’s most populous city. You can visit the coastal region of Salango for snorkeling, Silver Island, and the beautiful beaches of Los Frailes. Jungle excursions can also be arranged to experience the nature and unique wildlife such as toucans, parrots, and monkeys.

See our Ecuador Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Ecuador!

Capital Quito
Population 15.49 million
Languages Spanish
Currency US Dollar (USD)
Time zone UTC-05:00

Weather and climate: The climate of Ecuador is composed of a number of microclimates that separate into four distinct zones. La Costa (Costal Lowlands) is tropical, La Sierra (Andean Mountains) is temperate; and El Oriente (Amazon Region) shares the jungle climate of the upper Amazon rain forest.

Volunteers who are under 18 years old will be required to provide IVHQ with parental consent and two character reference letters in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional documentation to the local team. Independent volunteers under the age of 18 must provide the local team with a “good health” letter from their doctor or a certificate of health during program orientation. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in Ecuador.

Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.

Spanish language lessons are available for all volunteers regardless of their ability. IVHQ strongly recommends these for all volunteers unless they are fluent in Spanish. Volunteers with a basic level of Spanish should strongly consider these lessons to allow them to work and communicate more effectively during their program. These language lessons are organized upon your arrival in Ecuador during your program orientation. The language lessons are tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Spanish and must be paid for in Ecuador to our local staff. The cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers.

  • 12 hours/6 days = US$98 (or 3 days intensive)
  • 20 hours/10 days = US$160 (or 5 days intensive)
  • 30 hours/15 days = US$240 (or 8 days intensive)
  • 40 hours/10 days intensive = US$300
  • 60 hours/15 days intensive = US$450
  • 80 hours/20 days intensive = US$580

How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
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Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
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