The deadline for the gap trip scholarship applications is coming up at the end of August. Check out Ellie’s inspiring story of her time in Latin America – all made possible through our scholarship scheme.

I went on a school expedition to Kenya for 4 weeks back in 2017 and really enjoyed my time working to improve communities. I had decided to take a gap year between finishing my A-levels and starting Uni to have a break and travel, so I went on the Camps website and came across their scholarship application. I thought that spending 18 weeks in Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru was perfect thing to do for my year out as the Camps programme was the perfect mix between volunteering and helping communities whilst also allowing me to explore each country.

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During my time in Costa Rica I was involved in 3 main projects: building a Recycling Centre, building a kitchen for a village in which community gatherings are extremely important, and refurbishing a women’s house where many women in the community go to earn an income by making and selling products.

As Costa Rica is famous for its wildlife, we also got the opportunity to go on night walks through the rainforest and a boat trip to spot wildlife. We visited Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, Puerto Viejo and La Fortuna which gave us many opportunities like walking through the cloud forest and spotting the unique wildlife. We also got the chance to play football against the locals as well as adventure activities like ziplining and spending some time in natural hot springs.

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In Ecuador we took part in 4 projects; The first was building a kitchen for a hostel to increase tourism in the area thus increase income. We also built a toilet and shower from scratch for a family in the Andes as well as finishing off a shower block for a family in the Amazon. The final project was building part of a community centre for a community in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest. We slept in hammocks, trekked through the rainforests and got involved in traditional Amazonian activities, such as learning the local language, milking cows and blow piping. We also spent a week in the Galapagos islands along with visiting Quito and Otavalo market.

The projects in Peru included building the start of a greenhouse to increase food security for the community as well as helping build part of a restaurant which will increase tourism into the area. Peru was very cultural. We got to visit the Uros Islands and spend a night on Taquile island. We also joined in with traditional dancing, visited Puno and Cusco as well as took part in the 5-day trek to Machu Picchu.

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The highlight of my whole 4.5 months in terms of projects would have to be completing the toilet for the Andes family. In terms of other activities, it would be ziplining over the cloud forest in Costa Rica as well as the 5-day trek up to Machu Picchu.

I learnt a lot from my time in Latin America, most importantly about all the different cultures and about myself and what I enjoy doing. In a way I feel like it has influenced my career choice in terms of the fact that I would love a job where I can travel and be involved in the local culture, as well as helping people and the environment. It has also influenced my day to day life – I am now a lot warier of the environment and the damage we cause. I am much more appreciative of what I have and feel a lot more confident, determined and independent now that I understand myself a little better.

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I would 100% recommend the scholarship as volunteering was a completely different experience to just normal travelling. It’s a weird but amazing feeling living on just the basics like showering with a bucket or sleeping in a hammock. As well as the feeling of improving communities, you learn about each unique culture and is a lot more than just volunteering.

If you’re passionate about making an impact through travel, just like Ellie, you could earn up to £600 towards your trip through our global Impact scholarship scheme. Click here to find out more and apply today.