Essential Eligibility Criteria

Essential Eligibility Criteria for participation on a Pacific Discovery Program

The safety and welfare of our students and program instructors, followed by the effective education of our students are our top priorities. Program instructors are not present with the students 24/7 and students need to be able to exercise sound judgement in absence of direct supervision. Mid Teen students will have full supervision by their instructors and will be expected to follow curfews and other expectations set forth by their instructors.

Our programs traverse areas that may be remote and may be culturally, climatically, and environmentally unfamiliar and challenging. Additionally the standard of accommodation, transport, safety, hygiene, cleanliness, medical facilities, telecommunications and infrastructure development may not be to the standard you are used to at home or would find on a conventional holiday. Due to the geographical factors, the educational activities and the challenges of living and travelling in a small group, we require each student to be fully committed to the goals of the program.

Pacific Discovery believes in making its experiential programs as accessible as possible and does not discriminate by gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexuality, or ability. The following Eligibility Criteria are essential for all program participants.

Our programs are not recommended for students coming out of youth-at-risk or therapeutic programs as we are not ourselves a therapeutic program.


Pacific Discovery reserves the right to decline applicants whom we believe are not a good fit for the program experience.

Pacific Discovery programs are not suitable for:

  • Students who are adjudicated (court mandated)
  • Students with mental health conditions that require therapy during the program
  • Students with a physical disability or injury that prevents them from participating in the activities of the program


Mental Health
Students who have a mental health condition (e.g. depression or anxiety) must disclose this on their application. They and their families will then be contacted by Pacific Discovery to ensure they meet our essential eligibility criteria for safe participation in the program. Open and forthcoming disclosure is a prerequisite for acceptance.
We may require a report or letter from a Doctor/Psychiatrist/Psychologist which states the student is suitable to participate in a Pacific Discovery program and that they meet all of the criteria outlined in the Safety & Judgement and Program Behavior & Leadership sections below.
If a mental health condition is not disclosed on the application form, Pacific Discovery reserves the right to withdraw the student from the program.
Students must be able to self-manage their own condition.

Students who take prescription medications need to be able to self-manage. This means carrying and caring for the medication and self-administering medication at appropriate dosages/intervals without instructor supervision.

Students must have a high level of English language fluency and comprehension.
Students must communicate openly and honestly with Pacific Discovery staff.

Students must be aged 18-22 years for gap programs and 14-17 for Mid Teen programs. Anyone outside this age range should contact Pacific Discovery to discuss their options.
We will accept 17 year olds on our gap semesters who’ve graduated high school if we are satisfied they possess the requisite maturity.
Pacific Discovery offers no guarantee to accept applicants outside the 18-22 age range for gap and the 14-17 range for Mid Teen programs.

Every student must...

Safety and Judgment

  • Be able to exercise sound judgement in the absence of direct supervision.
  • Be able to independently identify and recognize potential hazards. These hazards may include, but are not limited to, loose and unstable surfaces; rugged, steep and uneven terrain; moving water (fast or slow) such as rivers, creeks, surf, or tides; traffic and pedestrian hazards.
  • Recognize and understand the hazards and risks posed by other students, which include, but are not limited to, fatigue, state of mind, and actions that may influence judgment and decision-making.
  • Recall and understand hazards and risks previously explained by program instructors, activity instructors and volunteer project coordinators.
  • Be able to effectively alert and warn others of potential or impending dangers such as falling rocks, swift water or other hazards.
  • Be able to effectively signal or notify program instructors or other course members of personal distress, injury, or need for assistance.
  • Act reliably around above stated hazards to minimize risk even when not directly supervised.
  • Independently perceive, understand, and follow directions and instructions given by others to be able to successfully execute appropriate techniques to avoid hazards and /or manage risks.
  • Be able to stay alert and focus attention for up to several hours at a time while travelling in wilderness terrain, undertaking volunteer project work, or receiving instruction.
  • Be able to respond appropriately to stress or crisis such as when encountering severe weather or a medical emergency.
  • Not continually take a greater share of the instructors focus and energy than other students.
  • Practice good self care: Maintaining adequate hydration, sufficient food intake for energy needs, sufficient sleep/rest, and dressing appropriately to remain generally healthy and be able to avoid environmental injuries such as hypothermia, heat illness, sunburn or frostbite. Appropriate dress is also important in respecting other cultures and should be considered based on the countries visited on program.


Program Behavior and Leadership

  • Abide by the Program Rules and Behavioral Guidelines.
  • Have an open mind and be willing to challenge their ideas and assumptions.
  • Work effectively as a member of a team despite potentially stressful and difficult conditions. This may require problem solving on an interpersonal or group level as well as a willingness to accept differences.
  • Contribute to a safe learning environment – no inappropriate behavior towards others is tolerated for any reason – verbal or otherwise.
  • Effectively communicate ideas and concerns on an individual and group level.
  • Have the cognitive ability to learn necessary skills given the normal time limitations of a Pacific Discovery program.
  • Have the maturity and self-awareness to see how their behavior may be perceived by others and ability to act appropriately in differing contexts (i.e. within a group and also in an unfamiliar culture).
  • Be able to take care of and know the location of their possessions at all times during the program.
  • Acknowledge that Pacific Discovery programs can be physically challenging. Although some programs have no minimum physical requirements, our programs are active and a degree of fitness enables students to better withstand the typical rigors of travel, climate and program pace.
  • Be able to participate in all program activities unless ill or injured.


Environmental and Social Sustainability

  • Each student must learn and then practice minimum impact and ethical travel techniques which include but are not limited to:
    • Buying local – to keep money in local communities and reduce the environmental impact of transporting food and goods large distances.
    • Minimizing waste and resource usage.
    • Abiding by local cultural norms for dress and behavior.
    • Not buying any products made from wild animals, shells, corals or tropical hardwoods.