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frequently asked questions

F.A.Q.

SAFETY

Safety is our # 1 priority and we have very detailed risk management and safety protocols. We take a preventative approach by minimizing risks before they ever arise, ensuring that each program location meets GSA standards for healthy living (i.e. no dangerous drugs or alcohol, etc).

First aid kits are on all programs and program leaders are, at minimum, certified in First Aid and CPR. We have an Emergency Action Plan detailing medical care and evacuation procedures for each program site. Risk management is the key to success in our business.

Following the guidance of public health authorities, student travel specialists and our program partners, we will make decisions that are best for our participants. We also use our own judgment when it comes down to taking precautions about the unpredictability of Covid-19 spikes, and as the world changes, all our rules are subject to change.

We take care of our participants like they are family. As a result, all of our programs are designed with the participants’ health in mind. If participant  becomes sick while on the program, we will notify their parents immediately and make sure that their medical needs get taken care of, including seeing a doctor or visiting an appropriate medical facility. Parents will be consulted and updated frequently.

All our team members are trained in CPR and first aid and are available 24 hours a day to handle any emergency. 

PROGRAM SPECIFICS

We have been running programs for students ages 14-18 for more than 15 years. We’ve had hundreds of students join us from all around the world, and have an excellent safety record in this industry. In fact, six out of ten applicants come to us because they know someone or have talked with someone who has participated in one of our programs before.

Selecting a program comes down to the student’s interests and goals, and will be based on service program themes, locations, and adventure activities. Some locations include environmentally-based exploration, sports-related service projects, or even people-to-people projects, like working with children. If you’re uncertain about your program selection, give us a call and speak with one of our friendly Program Advisors.

We are committed to protecting the personal information given to us by parents. However, most participants are happy to be used as references for questions from students and parents. Upon request, we will gladly put you in touch with past participants. Contact us to request these references and make sure to read through the testimonials section on the website.

We are a locally owned and family operated organization. Our staff live and work in the local communities, so they know the culture and can offer genuine insight and insider knowledge about Jamaica. The unique story behind our organization lies in our long-standing service partnerships, and our experienced team. 

Our founders and staff members have deep connections to local communities. Therefore, they understand how to help volunteers make the most impact on projects while having a life-changing experience. Visit the “About Us” page and learn more about our story and impact. 

Free time is an essential part of our trips. It gives students the chance to explore and gain confidence without feeling rushed or anxious about making friends. We offer them safe areas where they can shop or visit museums while staying in groups of a minimum of two persons. There is a designated meeting point during these times, which gives our travelers an opportunity for some much-needed individual exploration. 

GROUP DYNAMICS

Group size varies from 12 – 20 depending on the program and the activity involved. GSA accepts students ages 14 – 18 and they all work together in groups. While working towards a common goal, and living in a local cohesive community, we find that all our students grow together as a strong team regardless of any difference in age and background. 

Yes, life is co-ed and so are the GSA Programs. We always aim to have a good mix of males and females in our program – this includes staff members too. However, participants live in gender-segregated, dorm-style rooms with shared bathrooms to ensure that privacy is always maintained. Our enrollment history shows that the programs tend to attract more females than males.

Encouraging positive interactions within a group is a big part of what we do! As soon as the group settles in, our staff will start with some icebreakers to get participants feeling comfortable. Then they’ll offer games and activities that will help friendships flourish while still getting people acquainted with one another. We’re experts at fostering community among travelers.

TRANSPORTATION

The GSA tuition does not include the cost of flights as our students travel from all points across the United States and other countries. However, participants have the option to add chaperoned flights  at an extra cost . GSA works directly with travel agents to assist participants in obtaining low-cost flights to our programs. Contact us or visit our Travel & Flights page to get more detailed travel information.

Transporting our travelers to their destinations is a top priority, so the transport varies depending on the travel experience we want to offer. For program location  transfers, we use both private buses and coaches, but when it comes time for excursions, we prefer the larger bus with more room. All these transportation options have trained experienced drivers to ensure safe journey for students .We do not use public transportation in Jamaica as our local buses are often overcrowded and do not offer a comfortable experience for students .

Registering for this exciting service adventure couldn’t be easier! Simply fill out our online registration form here, and submit your $600 deposit to hold your spot and pay an extra application fee of $95. Our team will then contact you with information about the next steps and all the documentation required. Visit our How To Get Started Page to learn more or contact us here.

The GSA community is made up of a diverse group of students from all over the world. Our historic data has shown, however, that we have more females than males (averaging 70:30), and most summer participants sign up without knowing anyone else here! Naturally, we’re going to get some really unique perspectives because most of these students come with little background experience in working as part of a community service team.

Yes! We love having travelers from all over the world. Some participants have come to join our programs from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and many more. You can’t beat meeting someone new who will share their culture with yours after exploring another country’s customs, all on one trip – it gives you such a great perspective on what life might be like if things were different back home.

HOMEBASE

The foods on our programs are always mouthwatering and authentic! The menu has something for everyone with local authentic cuisine dishes, international cuisine and plenty of options to satisfy any taste buds. Our chefs work hard so you can experience authentic traditional meals while at the home base. You will also get the exciting opportunity to explore some new cuisines while on our excursions. We will also be recommending some popular favorites so you get to sample what  each destination offers to eat.

We are more than happy to accommodate your dietary restrictions. Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or pescatarian, we try our best to accommodate most diets. Before departure, please let us know if you have any food allergies or other special requests. 

STAFF

All of our staff members have gone through extensive background checks and training to make sure they’re able to not only take care of the students during their trip but also keep them safe. They are CPR as well as First Aid certified. All water activities have a minimum of one certified lifeguard and a member of staff to handle any emergencies that may arise.

GSA staff are not just anyone. They must have extensive knowledge and experience of the Destination they are traveling to , as well as being leaders and role models. They should have that special something which makes them want to work with youth so they can connect easily to form genuine friendships.

Many of our team members are educators and come from various backgrounds including, living abroad or having worked at summer camps before. This commitment means it will be hard to find another company that will put so much emphasis on their employees being passionate about what they do.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Travel insurance is a must-have for all of our travelers. You can choose your own plan or get the standard “cancel for any reason” option from us, but you’ll need to buy it before travel begins!

With this plan, your purchase is protected even if you choose to cancel for a non-covered reason. This includes Covid related reasons such as an increase in covid case counts or when someone just doesn’t feel comfortable traveling anymore. Learn more about full policy details here.

COMMUNICATION

We’ll take plenty of photos each day and post them to a private photo-sharing site so you can follow along with our journey! You’ll get an email when new images are uploaded, which means that nobody will miss out on any posts.

Cell phones are permitted on our programs, however, we have a firm policy to reduce usage. Participants are allowed their devices for emergencies and during free time in the evenings at the home base. However, our goal is to have teens remain fully present throughout each day without being distracted by technology. 

Our Program leaders will be in contact with families to provide daily updates on activities. If parents have an emergency, we encourage them to reach out by phone. If not, emails will be the best way to communicate. 

The dress code for our program is casual wear, so you’ll find pretty much everything that you need in your closet at home. As part of our pre-departure support, we will send a packing list of general items to bring, and information on the budget you need for miscellaneous expenses to cover items like souvenirs, snacks, etc.

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