2020 Summer Program suspended due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Read an open letter from our President & CEO here.

Venture into rural, coastal communities around the beautiful province of Santa Elena while volunteering with local students and living with a host family. Earn 215 service hours while you learn about the world by living in it!

Example Itinerary

*This is an example itinerary based on last year’s project. Dates, topics, and activities may be subject to change.

Day 1

Volunteers arrive. Project staff meet them at the airport and the group travels together to the city of Santa Elena, about 2.5 hours from Guayaquil, the largest city in the region.

Week 1

Briefing. Project staff lead all volunteers in a country-specific orientation to AMIGOS and the Santa Elena Project. Meet all other students on your project and spend a few days getting to know each other, learning about Ecuador, and doing fun activities. After briefing, project staff bring volunteers to their host communities to meet their host families.

Week 2

Week 1 in community. Lead day camps for local youth and start thinking about your community service project.

Week 3

Week 2 in community. Lead day camps and start planning your service project by laying the groundwork, meeting with local officials, and sketching out a budget.

Week 4

Week 3 in community. Continue leading day camps and start putting your project into action.

Week 5

Week 4 in community. Continue day camps and your service project.

Week 6

Week 5 in community. Wrap up your service project or prepare to transfer its management to local youth or local residents. Leave community and come together for debriefing. This is a chance to process, reflect, and prepare to return home, as well as see some cool spots in and around the Ecuadorian coast.

Final day

Fly home!

Length Training
Ages Application
Local Chapter 6 weeks

Find a chapter near you for a local training calendar!

2020 Program suspended due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Read an open letter from our President & CEO.

15–22 -

$4,250 + group fundraising

National Chapter 6 weeks

2020 Program suspended due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Read an open letter from our President & CEO.

15–22 -


About the Region


Coastal. Daytime temperatures can be hot!


Corviches = Deep fried plantain stuffed with peanut sauce and fish
Encebollado = Traditional Ecuadorian soup made from onions and tuna

Pacific Ocean

This region is home to thousands of small-scale fishermen, giving it a vibrant yet laid back attitude. Santa Elena is renowned for its magnificent coast line and rich waters. Surfers from around the world have been flocking to enjoy its northern beaches for decades!

Example Day

Morning: Enjoy a hearty bolon and shrimp with your host siblings before they head off to school. Help prepare the fishing bait for your host family’s day on the water.

Afternoon: Play soccer with your neighbors, help your host grandma with her daily chores, and sit down for a lunch with your whole host family.

Evening: Catch a local game of Ecuavolley (an Ecuadorian version of volleyball), share a light dinner with your host family.

Example Volunteer Projects
  • Updating and improving a community youth center
  • Building and maintaining a community garden
  • Developing a series of talks about health for local residents and youth
Santa Elena Province, Ecuador

Why Choose AMIGOS?

Learn Spanish

AMIGOS programs provide a unique opportunity to experience a new culture as a local, not a tourist. Volunteers report increased fluency in Spanish after going through our program. Activities go far beyond the classroom — you’ll lead activities in Spanish, learn local slang, and increase your confidence with real-world practice. You will not believe how fast your Spanish improves when you use it in conversation everyday!

Make an Impact

AMIGOS works with trusted local partner organizations to identify communities that are passionate and committed to working with our volunteers on community service projects. It has been our experience that a service project is sustainable only when the community owns it and participates in the effort. You will collaborate on a service project with volunteers your own age as well as community members, earning up to 270 service hours.

Gain a New (Host) Family

You’ll get to do way more than just travel — you’ll live with a host family, sharing in their day-to-day life. Become part of your host community, making friends with and working alongside community members. Share holidays, celebrations, and everyday life in a way you can only experience through authentic cultural immersion. AMIGOS volunteers and their host families build long-lasting relationships and often stay in touch after their project ends. All of our host families are vetted and trained before volunteers arrive.

Have an Adventure

Travel to must-see spots in your host country! You’ll travel as a group to experience unique destinations your host country has to offer, like volcanoes, ancient ruins, national parks, and historical sites. You’ll get to see these places from the distinct perspective of someone who has lived in that country and learned about the culture firsthand. Plus, you’ll bond with their fellow volunteers and have fun!

Travel with Trust

AMIGOS is the industry leader in health and safety management. Our staff is prepared to help you with any situation that may arise. Each volunteer receives a personalized emergency plan, as well as support from local staff teams and a professional 24-hour On-Call Safety Team of travel specialists, doctors, and mental health specialists. AMIGOS also has an established network of vetted medical clinics and hospitals throughout the region.

Training for AMIGOS and Beyond

Prepare for AMIGOS through guided training in topics like: multicultural understanding, health and safety, community development; travel safety, Spanish, leadership, and team building.

Upon arrival in the field, you’ll start country-specific training with your group of fellow volunteers. During your time abroad, you’ll meet regularly with an AMIGOS staff member who serves as your mentor. Finally, at the end of your service, come together again as a group to participate in debriefing — putting what you learned in context, preparing to go home, and going on fun excursions around the country.

Want to volunteer abroad?

Start your application today!



AMIGOS has been an integral part of my personal growth. I believe my AMIGOS commitment helped me get into Yale.
—Rosa, AMIGOS Volunteer

Program Requirements
  • Meet the health criteria for AMIGOS participation and follow the mental health procedures if necessary.
  • Receive required immunizations and medications
  • Be age 15–22 on the project start date
  • Have taken 2 years of Spanish or the equivalent

Read about the Santa Elena Project

Highlights from our Youth Encuentro

Santa Elena, Ecuador

Read More
Second week in community and first round of Youth Encuentros

Santa Elena, Ecuador

Read More
Call Home Date: Santa Elena

Santa Elena, Ecuador

Read More

Wish you were still in Latin America with AMIGOS? Now’s your chance to sign up for a second summer!

But don’t wait too long… Our projects are already filling up!
The priority deadline is November 4th so make sure you’ve saved your spot by applying today at apply.amigosinternational.org
Summer is waiting. We’ll see you there 😎

Un rico desayuno en comunidad, preparado con mucho amor ☕️ .
A delicious breakfast in community, prepared with lots of love ☕️.
#amigossantaelena2019 #somosamigos2019 #amigosdelasamericas #planinternacional #santaelena #ecuador

Uno de nuestros pilares es el intercambio cultural, y que mejor practicarlo aprendiendo a cocinar comida típica junto a las familias anfitrionas! .
One of our pillars is the cultural exchange, and what could be better than practicing it cooking with our host families! .
#amigossantaelena2019 #somosamigos2019 #amigosdelasamericas #planinternacional #santaelena #ecuador

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