Applications closed for 2024.

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to Our Top FAQs

Below, you will find the answers to the most common questions we receive about our programs. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, email us at [email protected] or contact us by phone at 970-690-0093 to learn more.

Program Overview

While our programs are travel-based, they are not “trips.” Instead, each program is an experiential field study in ethical leadership. We call each program a “Field Study” because students are actively learning about ethical leadership in “the field” alongside our trusted nonprofit partners.

No matter the location, each of our programs shares the same approach:

  • Trusted nonprofit partners: We partner with inspiring global leaders who are the central force for our field studies in ethical leadership.
  • Three-phase experiential learning model: Blends online preparation, immersive field study, and post-travel application.
  • “Learning Service:” Rather than traveling to “serve” or “help,” our programs focus on learning from the communities we visit.
  • Educational: Curriculum guided by professional educators
  • Tech-free: Allowing students to be fully present
  • Small groups (10-14 students): Allow deep immersion and reflection.

The majority of our program leaders are professional educators from our partner schools. The minimum age to lead a program is 21, but most of our leaders are over 30 years old. Whenever a younger leader (Under 25) is selected to lead a program, they are paired with an older (30+) veteran instructor.

All of our program leaders go through a rigorous application process that includes reference checks and a complete background check (including driving record). Returning leaders go through a yearly background check. All of our program leaders have a minimum First Aid and CPR certification, and others hold more advanced certifications, such as Wilderness First Responder (WFR).

All program leaders must attend a yearly training with where they receive training in risk management, experiential learning, Shoulder-to-Shoulder procedures, and country specific information.

All of our courses are tech-free, allowing students to be fully present in the experience. Disconnecting from technology helps participants to truly connect with the group and the communities that we work with.

Participants are allowed to travel with their phones to and from the gateway city. Once the whole group has arrived and the program begins, the program leaders will collect cell phones and hold them for the duration of the program.

Any item that connects to the internet (computers, iPads, tablets, smartwatches, etc.) is not allowed and should left at home.

Participants are allowed to bring e-readers or music devices that do not connect to the internet. Participants are encouraged to bring a digital camera to take photos since they will not have access to their phones.

Our groups typically consist of 10 to 14 participants, with two to three program leaders.


Travel Questions

Travel insurance is not required, but we strongly recommend families purchase insurance to protect against unexpected circumstances.

We partner with TravMark to provide an insurance option for our families, which you can read more about here. Families are not required to purchase this insurance and can purchase plans from other providers.

If you have questions about the recommended Activity Coverage plan with TravMark, please contact TravMark directly at 877-500-1556. Otherwise, please contact your insurance provider directly with any questions you may have.

Please note that each plan is unique, and there are often time-sensitive provisions for when insurance is purchased.

Programs outside the United States: All participants fly together with their group leaders on the group flight which departs from a US “departure hub” to the program start location. You can find this hub under the “Departure City” for your program. We will tell you the time you need to arrive at that departure hub to meet the group 2 months prior to departure. Please note that group flights do not allow the use of airline miles, and pricing is often higher than individual bookings. For coordination and safety reasons, all participants must take the group flight booked by SStS.

Programs in the United States: Participants are expected to meet at the airport in the city where the program takes place. You can find this hub under the “Arrival City” for your program. Our program leaders will wait for all participants to arrive before taking the group to the program site. We will tell you the time you need to arrive at the arrival city to meet the group 2 months prior to departure.

Programs outside the United States: We ask that you arrive at the US “departure hub” airport at least 5 hours before your scheduled departure. We will provide the exact details of where to meet the group one week before departure. Your group leaders will wait for you at the US “departure hub” and then fly with you to your program location.

Programs in the United States: We will provide you with a time frame in which to arrive at the “Arrival City” about six weeks before departure. Your group leaders will be waiting at the “Arrival City” airport to meet the group.

Each airline has its own unaccompanied minor policies, so you will need to check with your airline directly. We can provide you with the program leader’s contact information 6 weeks before travel to use them as the Unaccompanied Minor contact.

You can find the packing list for your program in your Parent Portal in the “Forms” section under the Pre-Trip Information. This information will be added to your portal two months before travel.

We strongly encourage each student to visit a local “travelers clinic” or international
health care practitioner who can advise you personally on your specific needs and
questions. We are not medical experts and, therefore, can not make any suggestions.

The best resource for up-to-date suggestions related to travel and vaccinations is the CDC
website where you can select your destination and specific medical information.

It is recommended that international travelers visit their healthcare provider 4 – 6 weeks
before the beginning of their trip to allow time for any medicine to take effect. The cost of
immunizations is the responsibility of each family.

We are able to accommodate most food allergies/dietary restrictions and do our best to provide participants with reasonable accommodations. 

Safety is our first priority and we work with each family to find the best-fit program based on the participant’s restrictions. 

If you have a condition or restriction that may pose a heightened risk during a program (life-threatening allergy, etc), we will work with you to determine the best-fit program based on your situation.

Enrollment & Payment

All participants must complete the short online application (approximately 10 minutes). After receiving a completed application, we will follow up with the reference listed on the application. Once the reference check is complete, participants will be contacted to schedule an admissions interview. Following the admissions interview, participants will be notified if they have been accepted into the program. 

Once accepted into a program, participants must complete the enrollment process and pay the $200 deposit (Fully Refundable until February 1st, 2024) to confirm their space on the program. We can not hold space on a program until the enrollment forms have been completed and the deposit has been paid. 

We have a rolling admissions process, and spaces are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants are encouraged to apply early to get their first choice program. We usually close the application process around May 1.



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