Applications for summer 2021 are now closed.


Give and Surf
see info below

Course Details

July 16-August 2, 2021


Departure City


Partner School: $4940*
Non-Partner School: $5140*


We partner with Give and Surf to support educational programs and enrichment activities for elementary school students.

The SStS Panama course begins in the bustling metropolis of Panama City, home to one of the world’s engineering marvels, the Panama Canal.The first two days will be spent exploring this vibrant multicultural city, including visiting the canal and the colonial neighborhood of Casco Viejo. After experiencing Panama City, the group will take a short flight to the beautiful Bocas del Toro province, an archipelago off the northwest coast of Panama and home to our non-profit partner, Give and Surf. While Panama ranks higher than most Central American countries in key education indicators, the indigenous Ngobe communities in the Bocas del Toro islands face a very different reality. Give and Surf works directly with these remote communities in order both to protect their culture and to ensure future opportunities for employment through education and community development.

While in Bocas del Toro, the group will be working in the community centers run by Give and Surf that support English language instruction and other activities run by local leaders in three different villages. Through this project work, student will have the chance to learn about the diverse and unique cultures that exist in the communities served by Give and Surf. In addition to teaching, the group will help to maintain several local schools through painting and other beautification projects. They will also have the chance to interact with younger students while visiting the pre-kindergarten programs run by Give and Surf. Additionally, while in Bocas del Toro, the group will learn from local leaders, hike to remote beaches, visit a chocolate farm, and snorkel in the stunning Zapatilla Islands. In this striking setting, students will have the chance to reflect on what they have learned about compassion, an inclusive perspective, and ethical leadership.  

LEARN MORE About Our Partner

Course Elements

The course elements are based on a rating from 1 to 5, 1 being the least rigorous, 5 being the most rigorous.

SStS students will spend time creating and delivering lessons and enrichment activities at local community centers run by Give and Surf.
Prior to their travels, students complete a series of online activities (30 minutes each). While traveling, they also read engaging articles, participate in cultural experiences, and create presentations in small groups.
Because a majority of the course occurs on an island with no cars, the students will primarily walk or take boats to local sites. The group will also have the opportunity to explore various sites on the island on a couple of long day hikes.
While at the project site, students will live in simple dorm rooms at the Hotel Caribbean View, a hostel that is in one of the communities served by Give and Surf. While in Panama City, they will also stay in a hostel.
After arriving in Panama City, the group will take a short flight to the islands of Bocas del Toro. From there they will take a quick boat ride to the island of Bastimentos where they will be based. Finally, they will return by plane to Panama City on the final day of the course.
The group will spend a majority of their time on Bastimentos Island, a small island without cars, that is a 10-minute boat ride from the main town of Bocas del Toro.



Depart from Miami, begin group orientation in Panama City.


Full day tour of the city including the Panama Canal & Museum, Casco Viejo, and Amador Causeway.


Fly to Bocas del Toro, learn about Give and Surf, plan for the upcoming week.


Teaching, supporting enrichment activities, and beautifying local community centers with time for beach hikes, lesson planning, and meeting local leaders.


Field or beach trip with Escuelita (Pre-Kindergarten program), visit to Bahia Roja & Bahia Honda, lunch and tour at La Loma Chocolate Farm.


Full day hike & trip to Red Frog & Polo Beaches


Explore Bocas town, bike ride to Bluff Beach


Supporting enrichment activities, beach hikes, lesson planning, and meeting local leaders


Bastimentos jungle hike and bat cave tour; talk with Rulio Milton; lunch in Bahia Honda


Field day at Bocas Community Center, trip to Starfish Beach


Full day snorkel & boat tour to Zapatilla Islands, return flight to Panama City


Return to Miami

Panama : In Three Phases



Prior to departure, students are guided by their course instructors through a series of interactive, online lessons. Organized by SStS’s Five Lenses Curriculum, these activities (30 minutes per week) allow students to directly engage with other members of the group.



The majority of the days at each site are spent engaged in meaningful service work with our NGO (non-governmental organization) partner. Days not dedicated to project work are spent immersed in intriguing cultural activities.



During the next school year, students educate others by advocating for our NGO partner through public presentations to the community at large and/or younger, school-based audiences.

Travel Journal

Important Details

Cost Information

Students who attend a Shoulder-to-Shoulder partner school receive a tuition discount. To see a list of partner schools, click HERE.

Tuition (students from partner schools): $4940
Tuition (students from non-partner schools): $5140
Airfare & fees: $520
Total Course Cost: $5460 (Partner)/$5660 (Non-Partner)

SStS is in search of curious, compassionate, globally-minded students. Thus, we will do all that we can financially to support students who require assistance. If you would like to be considered for a scholarship, please indicate this on the application. Financial assistance resources are limited. Scholarships tend to be less than 50% of tuition.

Please note, tuition does not include airfare and immunizations.

Tuition costs are all inclusive with the exception of personal expenditures (e.g. souvenirs).
Tickets and medical & security evacuation services are purchased as a group. The cost of these services is included in the tuition.
Talbot Travel Agency provides travel services for SStS, working personally with us to find the least expensive group fares. As a result, it is not possible to use airline miles or credit card benefits for the international flights. However, these can be used to purchase tickets to the gateway city.

Travel Expectations

Please note that we expect all participants to travel together, adhering to the identical itinerary. We will depart the United States as a group from a gateway city. Exemptions may be made for international students. Additionally, travel in the developing world inevitably includes “the unexpected” (e.g. weather disruptions, transportation strikes, etc.). SStS will adjust the itinerary accordingly, making the best of uncontrollable situations. Due to the unknown variables in international travel, participants are asked not to make travel plans or to enroll in programs that start immediately after their return. SStS is not responsible for expenses incurred due to missed flights if the group is delayed in their return.



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