There’s no need to wait until you’re 18 years old to volunteer abroad - International Volunteer HQ specializes in offering safe and affordable volunteer opportunities for teens and high school students in more than 13 destinations around the globe.
Volunteering for teens is the ultimate youth travel experience. Since 2007, IVHQ has supported thousands of youth to volunteer throughout Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, Europe, the Caribbean and Pacific. More than 20% of IVHQ volunteers are under 20, so we know a thing or two about providing life-changing, reliable and affordable travel experiences for young explorers.
If you’re new to IVHQ, learn about our approach to volunteer health and safety, as well as our proven and trusted approach to volunteer placements. We’ve also created a helpful FAQ section for you and your parents to understand why we offer the most trusted teen and high school volunteer abroad programs available.
So what are you waiting for? Jump right in and explore our best high school and teen volunteer abroad options!
Independent Teen Programs
If you’re looking for summer volunteer programs suitable for high school students, or teen volunteer programs that offer cultural immersion at any time of year, IVHQ’s youth volunteer program selection has the right option for you.
Programs range in duration from 1 week to 24 weeks and start from only $180.
Volunteers between the ages of 16-17 can travel independently on 17 IVHQ programs, including Portugal, Bali and Costa Rica. Teen volunteers on these projects work alongside volunteers of all ages, however they are accommodated separately.
Teen volunteers are required to provide IVHQ with parental/guardian consent and two satisfactory character references in order to participate. You may also be asked to provide further documentation to the local team depending on your chosen destination.
Volunteers aged 16-17 can participate in Independent Teen programs in the following destinations:
Imagine doing rewarding volunteer work in Cusco, Peru before taking an unforgettable week-long mini adventure exploring the world-famous Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley! Or assisting local communities in Bali before exploring some of the best beaches in the world!
These are just a few examples of the volunteer work and destinations that teens can explore with IVHQ.
If you are younger than 16, keep in mind that 15 year-olds can participate in IVHQ’s Supervised Youth Adventure Packages. If you’re younger than 15, you can choose from more than 40 destinations and volunteer on a range of projects with a parent or guardian. The world is at your fingertips!
- What age can I join IVHQ?
- Are IVHQ’s teen volunteer programs safe?
- What information do my parents need?
- Can I do any IVHQ program or project?
- How do the guardian consent forms affect me?
- Will someone be there to meet me at the airport?
- Who will accompany me abroad?
- Will there be people my age on the program?
What age can I join IVHQ?
There are a number of ways you can volunteer with IVHQ depending on your age:
Under 15: You’re able to volunteer as part of a group (for example, a group of students from your high school) with parental/guardian consent. You’ll need to be accompanied on the program by a designated guardian over the age of 18.
15 - 18 years old: You have the option to join two different types of teen volunteer abroad programs.
IVHQ’s Supervised Youth Adventures are fully supervised programs available to 15 - 17 year olds, which allow teenagers to travel independently and experience a set volunteer abroad itinerary with a group of other teenagers from around the globe. You are required to gain parental consent and two satisfactory character references. These packages are only available in exclusive destinations, as you will be supported 24/7 in-country by a local coordinator in lieu of a guardian abroad.
The second option, Independent High School Programs, is for 16 and 17 year olds who wish to participate independently on a program with parental consent and two satisfactory character references. You can choose from volunteer projects in more than 20 destinations and will receive 24/7 support from the local team, but not full time supervision.
Are IVHQ’s teen volunteer programs safe?
IVHQ places thousands of young volunteers around the world each year and we are committed to ensuring teen and high school volunteer programs are safe, reliable and responsible. We do this by providing the following support and services in each destination:
- IVHQ Local Teams: IVHQ partners with local volunteer organizations in each program location. Our local teams are responsible for providing 24/7 support to volunteers throughout the duration of their volunteer program. IVHQ has a careful selection process in choosing our local teams and every program that IVHQ offers has been personally inspected and approved by IVHQ staff. We have experienced the programs first-hand, vetted the local teams and provided comprehensive IVHQ program management training. Our local teams are well equipped to provide effective volunteer programs and take care of you in-country.
- Airport pick-ups: Our local teams meet our volunteers as soon as they arrive. If arriving by plane, the local team will pick you up from the airport. If a flight is delayed, they’ll be there to collect you when you land. If arriving overland (for example, if you plan to travel in the country before your volunteer program starts), our local team will make alternate arrangements for your pick-up so they can meet you.
- Volunteer accommodation: Teen volunteers are accommodated with other volunteers in a safe community near their volunteer placements. Our accommodation providers have been hosting international guests for many, many years and are well versed in hosting visitors who are new to the country. You can be sure that you and your dietary requirements will be well looked after. Plus, our placements and accommodation locations are continually monitored by our staff to ensure our volunteers are happy and comfortable.
- 24/7 support: When you apply to volunteer abroad with IVHQ, you’ll be connected with a dedicated Program Manager. They’re experts when it comes to volunteering abroad and will help you prepare for your volunteer abroad journey. Once you arrive at your volunteering destination, you’ll be met by the local team, who are on hand 24/7 to provide assistance on any matter, from making the most of your volunteer project to tips on how to spend your free time.
What information do my parents need?
We understand there are a lot of questions that parents and guardians have when it comes to sending their children abroad. From pre-departure checklists to in-country specifics, we’ve thought out every aspect of our teen and high school volunteer programs.
To start, we recommend you read our volunteer abroad information for parents. This guide aims to provide you with a base understanding of what makes IVHQ the most trusted volunteer provider. Our experienced Program Managers are here to provide you with any additional support and answers to any questions you have once your teen has applied for a volunteer program or package.
Can I do any IVHQ program or project?
We have tailored our teen and high school volunteer programs to provide options that are best suited for youth volunteers, including our 13 Independent Teen Programs and Supervised Youth Adventure Packages.
If you need further clarification on these options, head to the web page for your chosen destination and go to the U18 section for confirmation. We are also happy to help with any questions you have!
Why do I need guardian consent forms?
For under 18 travelers, the guardian consent form is one of the most important pre-departure checklist items you need to complete before you depart. If you’re under 18, we require written consent from your parent(s) or guardian(s) and two satisfactory character references.
These forms are legal confirmation that you can travel with IVHQ as a minor. They are non-negotiable for participation. Your Program Manager is happy to support you through the process of obtaining these once you have applied and registered with IVHQ.
Will someone be there to meet me at the airport?
As part of all IVHQ programs, a local team member can pick you up whether you arrive via plane or public/private transport. This information is confirmed and secured via your MyIVHQ account once you’ve registered for the program.
Who will accompany me abroad?
There are three different options for support on our teen and high school volunteer programs:
Take part in a Supervised Youth Adventure Package (15 - 17 year olds) and get guardian consent to volunteer with full supervision from the local team, who will be with you throughout your entire program to provide support.
Take part in an Independent High School Program (16 - 17 year olds) and get guardian consent to volunteer independently. Our team of local coordinators provide 24/7 on-call support throughout your program and will check in with you periodically.
Take part in a standard IVHQ program, accompanied by a designated guardian who is at least 18 years old. This guardian can be a friend, family member or teacher, but it must be someone known to you and your parent or guardian must provide consent for you to volunteer on the program with them.
Will there be people my age on the program?
More than half of all IVHQ volunteers are aged between 18 - 24, so there’s a strong chance of having at least some fellow volunteers of a similar age as you. Depending on the program you volunteer on, there is also a high chance of having other under-18 volunteers on the program with you.
For those that take part in our Supervised Youth Adventure Packages, you will be volunteering with other U18 volunteers.