University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Students Build Friendships and Become a Team in Costa Rica

Group - FlagStudents from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) arrived at our rainforest base on Saturday, December 16th—marking the start of their thru-hike journey to unspoiled rainforests and remote homestays far from the tourist route.

This Custom Course was open to all UTC students. Some came with a friend, however, for many of them this was a solo journey to explore remote regions of a new country, learn about Costa Rican culture, and bond with fellow UTC students. Prior to course, several students joined up for group hike and pre-trip meetings to prepare for their trip to Costa Rica.

Group - Service Project TinamuAfter a day of orientation, meeting their instructors, and preparing their backpacks at our rainforest base, UTC students transferred to the town of San Isidro. They began their downhill hike to Piedras Blancas in the southeastern region of Costa Rica, enjoying the sunny skies and beautiful views all the way to Casa Hernan—a sustainable rainforest home where they met local family members and ate a delicious homecooked meal. The following day, the group woke up to a thrilling waterfall rappel challenge. Diego and Molly, their Outward Bound Costa Rica instructors, both noted that this was a big moment of teambuilding for the group. For some it was more of a challenge than others, but there was so much support and cheering. Later, the UTC students volunteered in the community garden planting pineapples and apple trees and were taught how to make sugar in a trapiche—a place used to traditionally process sugar cane.

Manuel Antonio - surf lesson Jorge Cable car - names TBC Brittany - Piedras Blancas Surf

Red-eyed tree frog - Ranchos Tinamu

The most challenging and rewarding part of their trip was the next day’s hike from Casa Hernan to Tinamu. There was a big feeling of accomplishment as the group followed instructions to control their pace and hike as a group. The fastest slowed down and the slowest pushed their limits. It was a moment where each of them showed an overwhelming sense of compassion. They all supported each other and stayed positive, which led to them completing this challenge as a team. They were rewarded by the frog tour in the evening and spending the next days relaxing at the beach in Manuel Antonio.

Upon returning to our rainforest base from learning to surf and spotting white-faced monkeys at Manuel Antonio National Park, the group reflected on their experience. Diego and Molly, their course instructors, said it was amazing to see more quiet individuals opened up more and more throughout the trip. UTC students discovered a judgement free environment that flourished into an overwhelming amount of respect for one another. Additionally, this group took on each leadership role with confidence, demonstrated an ability to make decisions as a group, and an ability to compromise when they disagreed. Along with an incredible experience, each of them returned home with newfound friendships.

Group - HikeA big thank you to the the UTC chaperones, Alli and Garner. They both did an amazing job and were an invaluable addition to the group with their positive and enthusiastic personalities. Alli’s appreciation for this experience and for being in Costa Rica was contagious and was a consistent reminder to the students to live in the moment and enjoy every last second.

Thank you to all of you, Adrianna, Alli, Brianna, Brittany, Clayton, Emily, Emma, Garner, Heather, Justin, Katey, Kelsey, Lizzy, McKenzie, Taylor R., and Taylor T for an unforgettable course.


Interested in a Custom Course?

Surf, hike, raft, scuba, kayak, and more on a Custom Course with your class, family, friends, Girl Scout troop, or co-workers.

Learn More

 Contact our Custom Courses & Partnerships Manager at 800-676-2018 or by emailing