Parents & Advisors

Below we’ve put together some information about Pacific Discovery, that we find many parents and advisors ask.


Gap Year Semester Programs: 10 weeks + 1-3 week independent extension options

Summer Programs: 3-5 weeks

Ideal Age Range

Gap Semester and Mini Semester Programs:
17-24 years

College Summer Programs:
17-24 years

High School Summer Programs:
14-17 years

Group Dynamic

Group size:
12-14 students & 2 instructors

When Can Students Apply?

Student Admissions:
Rolling admissions



Our program instructors are trustworthy, empathetic, inspirational, and excellent facilitators. They are all experienced in working with young people and are skilled at balancing the needs of individuals while managing positive group dynamics. Our program instructors have many tools to ensure that your son or daughter will have a meaningful, safe, educational and well-organized experience with us!


We have had more than 100,000 student days in the field, and we have an exemplary safety record. We take safety seriously as running safe programs is our primary focus. Detailed safety planning is an integral part of our programming and instructor training. Our safety management systems are assessed and accredited by the Gap Year Association (AGA), the Year Out Group (UK) and OutdoorsMark (New Zealand). Assessors have commented that our systems are among the best they have observed. Learn more about our safety practices.

Group Dynamic

Our program groups are comprised of diverse individuals with their own unique backgrounds, interests and experiences. However, we find that all of our students share a common desire to travel, discover, push their comfort zones, and be a part of a close-knit and supportive group. We carefully screen all of our students to ensure that they are a good fit for our programs. We don’t want to set any student up to fail. If we feel an applicant does not meet our essential eligibility criteria, then we will not accept them onto a program. During the program our instructors work closely with the group to ensure positive group dynamics.


We offer real experiences that are insightful, adventurous, and impactful. We don’t try to insulate our students from the complexities of the world, instead, our programs expose students to some uncomfortable realities – inequality, discrimination, overuse of resources, unsustainable lifestyles, power and privilege. As we invite students to look at these daunting realities, we also offer insight and hope around the role each person can have in positively affecting change in the world. Our programs introduce students to grass-roots organizations, perspectives and lifestyles. Working closely with the communities we visit, our programs provide opportunities for rewarding and authentic cultural exchange through community initiated service learning and volunteer projects.


We understand that supporting your daughter/son to join one of our programs requires a high level of trust. One way in which we earn your trust is through excellent communication. Our small office team work collaboratively and are never too busy to discuss questions or concerns that you have. We communicate closely during the preparation phase (pre-departure), so that you can support your son/daughter to get ready for their program. You will be provided a 24/7 emergency contact number for the program start in case there are any problems with flights. Once the program is underway we regularly check email and voice messages and will respond promptly, and you can follow your daughter/son’s journey through their regularly updated Facebook album.


As Founders and Directors, we have spent nearly 20 years living and breathing Pacific Discovery. With this we are continually adapting and improving our programs and model, as we learn and grow, and as the needs of our students and communities evolve. We are deeply committed to the highest quality outcomes for our students, our staff, and the communities we work alongside. Read Our Story to learn more about our professionalism and personal investment in your student experience. We have invested a considerable amount of time, money and energy into creating robust systems to respond appropriately and rapidly in times of crisis. We do all of this because we see the benefits of our programs in the lives of students, alumni and community partners and because we believe in their potential to improve the way we care for our planet.


Pacific discovery offers cutting-edge journeys of discovery. We have taken the best elements from the pioneers in experiential education like Outward Bound and outdoor education like NOLS; the best cross-cultural learning and global perspective practices from international study abroad; and best practices in service-learning and student development to create a dynamic and transformative program experience. Blending all of these elements into a cohesive experience where the outer physical journey is mirrored in each student’s inner journey of personal insight and growth.


Your son or daughter will have a meaningful, inspiring and expertly-facilitated experience in which they are supported to learn about themselves, push their boundaries, question their assumptions, foster problem solving and inquiry skills, and gain leadership and group experience. We achieve these goals by carefully designing each program around six core program components. Learn more about our program design here.

Experiential Education

We understand experiential education as learning by doing with reflection. Simply put, the best way to learn about something is not to read about it in a book or attend a lecture, but to actively engage with it in an immersive “hands-on” setting. Such learning experiences are grounded, physically active, cognitively meaningful, and engaging. These experiences allow learners to take ownership for their learning and to make meaning of their decisions, actions and lives. To encourage ‘learning from experience’, our program instructors facilitate opportunities for students to reflect upon their experiences, while providing historical, cultural, geographical and environmental background so that personal experience can be connected with a broader understanding of place. Learning in this way is different to the standard structure of high school or college/university academia, and we often find that it promotes greater excitement and motivation. It is a naturally evolving process that is unique to each individual. Your son or daughter will have a learning experience which lacks the pressure and stress of traditional methods of education and allows them to have an engaging, positive and meaningful learning experience.