Volunteer in Mexico - San Pancho
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 3 meaningful projects focused on Childcare, Education and Sustainability
- Projects based in San Pancho on Mexico’s Pacific Coast
- Accommodation in a volunteer house or a small hostel
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, breakfast and lunch and 24/7 in-country support
- Program fees from $370 for 1 week
- Between 5 and 20 volunteers start in Mexico each month
- Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in Mexico to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Mexico will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
- Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
- Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
- Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organisations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
- New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
- Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore Mexico with your new-found friends.
The IVHQ Mexico volunteer program is based in San Pancho (also referred to as San Francisco), a coastal town located in the State of Nayarit on the Pacific coast of Mexico. With a pleasant climate and stunning natural diversity, Nayarit is the perfect destination for exploring beautiful beaches, untouched forest and the mountains of the Sierra Madre. All volunteer projects are located in and around San Pancho within local communtity centres and elementary schools.
Volunteer programs begin on the first and third Tuesday of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 8 weeks.
Childcare and Education
As a volunteer on our Childcare and Education project in Mexico, you will play an important role in facilitating educational activities and lessons for local children within San Pancho. International volunteers are invaluable in exposing the children to different cultures and getting them engaged in interactive learning activities, such as sport, reading, technology, art or playing games.
This project is well suited to energetic volunteers with a passion for demonstrating to children that learning is fun by using a combination of classroom-based and extracurricular activities. Your role is to inspire and encourage students to step outside their comfort zones and embrace learning in different contexts by using a range of different teaching methods.
When volunteering on the Childcare and Education project, you will be based in a community center and be responsible for preparing the daily lessons and activities for the students who are typically aged between 3 and 15 years-old. If you are proficient in Spanish, there is also the opportunity to take lessons at a local elementary school or high school. This means that you will spend a couple of hours preparing lessons and a couple of hours teaching each day. There is a general syllabus for you to follow and examples of what previous volunteers have taught to guide your lesson planning. You will have as much support as you need to feel comfortable in your role and there is also scope to design activities according to your own interests and skills.
Please note that at some stages during the year, volunteers will be asked to help with additional tasks, such as general maintenance of the community center, administration, organizing the books in the library, or assisting with events taking place within the community.
Environmental Education and Upcycling
The aim of the Environmental Education and Upcycling project is to support sustainability initiatives within the local community of San Pancho, while educating local students about environmental issues and how to take action. You will be involved in a range of activities focused on recycling, upcycling, gardening and facilitating education programs within schools.
This project is well suited to enthusiastic and hard-working volunteers who are passionate about using education as a vehicle to inspire youth to understand the importance of protecting our environment. If you’re outgoing, willing to get involved in physical work and are enthusiastic about providing assistance wherever your help is most needed, this will be the perfect project for you.
When volunteering on the Environmental Education and Upcycling project in Mexico, you will provide assistance with all stages of recycling. This may include collecting and sorting recycling materials, and upcycling glass, textile and plastic materials. You can also support community beach clean-ups and restoration projects, along with planting and gardening work. There are opportunities to deliver education projects focused on recycling and sustainability within regional public elementary schools. Volunteers also have scope to design and develop new education programs, depending on the unique needs of the community.
Please note that while volunteers who wish to lead the environmental education programs in locals schools need to be proficient in speaking Spanish, there are also support roles for volunteers who would like to contribute.
Art and Community Outreach
As a volunteer on our Art and Community Outreach project in Mexico, you will play an important role in keeping cultural and artistic initiatives alive within the local community of San Pancho. Considered the cultural capital of the state of Nayarit, San Pancho has a vibrant community of artists, musicians and performers who welcome international volunteers of all abilities to share their skills with the local students.
This project is well suited to creative and energetic volunteers who believe in the power of the arts to strengthen community ties and support community development initiatives. Volunteers with relevant occupations or skill sets, such as dancers, musicians, theatre performers, graphic designers, social media managers, website developers, photographers and videographers can all make a valuable contribution to this project through sharing their skills with the local students.
When volunteering on the Art and Community Outreach project, you may have the opportunity to teach small classes based on your skills, including singing, dancing and gymnastics. You can also get involved in creating murals, mosaics and supporting other community beautification projects. If you are experienced in graphic design, communications, social media management or website development, you can provide support to the local NGO in developing their platforms to better connect with the local community.
Please note that the specific tasks involved in this project can vary depending on the cultural and artistic activities going on within the community at the time of your program. This means you should come prepared to provide assistance wherever your support is most needed.
The Mexico - San Pancho program orientation begins on the first and third Tuesday of every month and volunteers need to arrive in San Pancho on the Monday before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive into Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR) in Puerto Vallarta, where you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation.
Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.
If you are traveling in Mexico prior to your volunteer program, our local team can pick you up within San Pancho on the day prior to orientation.
Orientation will be hosted by our team in Mexico and will cover everything you need to know for your program in Mexico – Introduction to Mexico, Mexican Customs, Language Training Details, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in Mexico, Introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing. Volunteers will also receive a walking tour of the downtown area. Once orientation is complete, volunteers will be transported to their placement and introduced to all relevant parties and placement staff.
First Day: On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local field manager and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.
Weekdays: You will have a morning or afternoon shift, which will last around 2 to 5 hours. A typical morning schedule would be as follows:
7.30 AM Breakfast with the other volunteers.
8.00 AM Volunteers leave home and walk to their placements.
8.30 AM The volunteer joins the local staff. You will be given instructions for the day’s work.
2.00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel home, prepare for the next day or do some shopping and sightseeing.
2.30 PM Lunch (main meal of the day)
7.30 PM Dinner out with the other volunteers.
Please note this schedule will vary depending on the needs of your particular project.
Volunteers in Mexico are accommodated in a volunteer house or a small hostel. The volunteer house provides shared rooms and bathrooms and communal living and outdoor spaces. The accommodation has access to WiFi for important communication or making weekend bookings, however the connection speed will not be as fast as you may be used to at home.
The volunteer house has individual beds with privacy curtains, USB ports, personal fans, individual lights and power ports. There could be up to 12 people staying in the volunteer house. Living is basic, yet comfortable and the volunteer house has electricity and running water. The volunteer house has fans, but not air conditioning. There is hot water for showers.
The hostel is a small dormitory-style hostel and you may share a room with other volunteers. There is a communal kitchen, as well as living, dining and outdoor spaces for volunteers to enjoy in their free time. The hostel is located just a few minutes from the local community center.
Bedding is provided, however it is recommended that you bring your own light sleeping bag or sleeping bag liner for weekends away (keep in mind that it can get quite hot in the evenings). You will also need to bring your own towel and toiletries.
Alcohol and smoking is strictly forbidden at the accommodation and you must adhere to the accommodation rules at all times while on the program.
Celebrated for its varied flavors, colorful decoration and liberal use of spices and local produce, Mexican cuisine is one of the best in North America. You can expect to try a range of local favorites during your stay on the program. You will be served two meals per day (breakfast and lunch), with a combination of Mexican and Western food. With the exception of Saturday morning breakfast, volunteers source their own meals during weekends. Dinners are not provided on the program and volunteers instead eat out together at local markets and restaurants. We recommend budgeting between US$7 and US$10 per day to purchase dinner and the local staff will provide recommendations on affordable places to eat in Mexico at orientation.
Self-serve continental style breakfast is available for volunteers each morning between 6am and 8:30am; a fridge and basic cooking facilities are also provided. As lunch is traditionally the biggest meal of the day, subsequently volunteers often have dinner between 7:30pm and 8:30pm each night.
Filtered water is provided to volunteers at the accommodation and it is widely available at local restaurants, as tap water is not safe to drink in Mexico. Please to bring a reusable drink bottle to refill as single use plastic is strongly discouraged on this program.
If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you.
Over the weekend, you will have spare time to relax at the beach, visit the local markets and enjoy the fresh local cuisine. Some volunteers take the opportunity to explore San Pancho, or see other towns within the state of Nayarit. You can take day trips to go snorkeling, kayaking or even whale watching!
Weather and climate: San Pancho is situated on the west coast of Mexico and is warm year-round. The hottest part of the year is from mid April to mid June, with an average daily high temperature above 86°F and low of 54°F. The coolest part of the year is from December to February when there is an average daily high temperature below 81°F.
Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in Mexico.
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.