Essential Eligibility Criteria (EEC) for students

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.

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.

EEC for participation on a Pacific Discovery 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. If loss of medication could be problematic, program instructors can carry a backup/emergency supply of medication.


  • 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 18-24 years. Anyone outside this age range should contact Pacific Discovery to discuss their options.
  • We will accept 17 year olds who’ve graduated high school if we are satisfied they possess the requisite maturity.
  • We will occasionally accept students over 24 who are still studying or who have recently graduated, if we are satisfied that their participation will not adversely effect the rest of the group.
  • Pacific Discovery offers no guarantee to accept applicants outside the 18-24 age range.

Safety and Judgment

Each student must...

  • 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.

Program Behavior and Leadership

Each Student must…

  • 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.
  • Abiding by culturally appropriate dress codes.

Program Rules and Behavioral Guidelines

Each student is responsible for understanding, acknowledging and following the Program Rules and Behavioral Guidelines. These are in place to protect you, your group mates, your Program Instructors, host communities, and Pacific Discovery.

Breach of a Program Rule is grounds for immediate dismissal from the program. Disregard for Behavioral Guidelines can result in dismissal from the program.

Program Rules

  • No drugs, no smoking

    This includes marijuana, herbal highs, and misuse of over-the-counter and/or prescription medications. Students are not permitted to purchase, use, possess, or be around others using drugs that are illegal in the host country. In the event that a student is arrested in a foreign country for possession or use of narcotics, the student will be under the jurisdiction of local authorities.

  • No alcohol

    Pacific Discovery programs are alcohol free with the exception that, on occasion, students can drink with instructor’s presence and approval (2 standard drink limit). This is to help model safe and responsible attitudes and behaviors towards alcohol and allow for cultural experience/exchange. Outside of these approved times, consumption, purchase and possession of alcohol is not permitted, and will result in immediate dismissal.

  • No bullying or exclusivity

    Bullying, intimidation, harassment, physical abuse, put-downs, exclusion, or discrimination, by gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or wealth/status will not be tolerated. Exclusive relationships within the group are not supported.

  • No risk-taking, disruptive or harmful behavior

    This includes but is not limited to: Tattoos, piercings, or body modification;  Sexual relationships inside or outside the group;   Viewing pornography;  Driving a motorized vehicle or vessel, or being a passenger on a motorbike;  Possession or purchase of any weapon - students may bring one folding-blade pocket knife with a blade length of max 3in;  Leaving the group or group accommodation without notifying anyone of your intentions or whereabouts;  Being out at night after a set check-in time;   Staying away from the group accommodation overnight is not permitted.

Behavioral Guidelines

Nothing is more important to your overall program experience than you. Your attitude and ownership of your own experience is instrumental to your overall enjoyment of the program. If you approach the program with enthusiasm and an open mind, you will gain a lot more from the whole experience.

We expect students to engage in all program activities and experiences, and to be open to learning and challenging their ideas and assumptions. The program will be as much about the inner journey of personal growth and learning about yourself, as it is about what you will experience in the outer physical journey.

Our programs are a shared group experience. We expect you to join the program with an open mind, and a willingness to work together with your group mates, and support each other, to make the program an incredible experience for the whole group. We expect students to be good ethical bystanders, attending to the well-being of all group members (E.g. Taking appropriate action when other group members put themselves at risk – including breaking program rules).

A healthy group dynamic takes some effort on your part and it is natural that you will find you get along better with some members of the group than others, because you share the same interests or outlook on life. We ask that you make a real effort to find common ground with everyone in the group. Throughout the program we will be mixing activity groups and roommates so that everyone spends equal time together.

Honest, open, and respectful communication and behavior with your program instructors and group mates is essential.

Be with at least one other group member anytime you are away from the group accommodation. Notify a program instructor of your intentions when roaming any distance away from group accommodation. Students must adhere to a curfew specified by program instructors or host community expectations.

Non-group members are not permitted in group rooms/accommodation.

Limited technology use. Phones and devices may can be brought on the program, but may only be used during programmed ‘WiFi time’ on occasional evenings. Use is not permitted during community stays, home stays, during expeditions, travel days, and other intentional group focused time. This is so that students are present and engaged, for healthy group dynamics, and for safety and personal security reasons.

Taking responsibility:

  • Be responsible for all your own possessions at all times.
  • Take responsibility for your own health and well-being. Communicate clearly and promptly with your program instructors regarding any health or medical issues that arise.
  • Take responsibility for the administration and care of any medications you need.
  • Be responsible for communicating your dietary preferences, allergies, health issues, concerns, and emotional well-being.
  • Timeliness – be ready on time when a time has been set.
  • Be proactive in helping out with group tasks and helping others.

Travel ethically and sustainably and respect the people and places visited during the program. Refer to our code of travel ethics.

  • Students should abide by local customs and dress codes.
  • Students should accord local people the same measure of respect and courtesy they would to their fellow students.
  • Students should attempt to minimize their environmental impact:
  • Buy local and eat local foods. Don’t eat wild animal dishes.
  • Conserve resources – turn off lights, minimize use of AC, minimize trash.
  • Protect waterways by using biodegradable soaps and shampoos.
  • Practice leave-no-trace hiking, camping and outdoor toileting.
  • Don’t buy products made from wild animals, tropical hardwoods, shells or coral.

Response to Rule Breaking

The response to rule breaking will depend upon a consideration of the following factors:

  • Seriousness of rule-breaking
  • Degree of risk-taking involved
  • Maturity level of student/s involved
  • Honesty and forthrightness of students involved
  • Attitude of student/s involved
  • Willingness of student/s to adhere to rules/guidelines going forward
  • Impact of rule-breaking upon the group, instructors or host communities

There are three levels of response to rule-breaking.

Verbal warning
For minor infractions. Instructor/s will meet with student/s and point out where their behaviour is outside of the program rules, behaviour guidelines or group agreement.

Behavior contract
A written behaviour contract will be used for situations of rule breaking, or on-going attitudinal problems. When a behaviour contract is issued, family of the student will be notified. A behaviour contract may also serve as a final warning and this will be made clear to a student and their family when issued.

Repeat rule-breaking, ongoing attitudinal problems, law-breaking, or risk-taking at a level of seriousness that place the student, the groups, or the programs safety at risk, will result in dismissal from the program.

These three responses are not a 1, 2, 3 process. Depending upon the severity of rule breaking, students may be given a verbal warning, put on contract or dismissed.

Dismissal process 

We work incredibly hard to help all of our students complete their Pacific Discovery program successfully. This starts with our admissions and screening process, pre-program framing and preparation and carries through with the mentorship and guidance they receive from their program instructors as well as the supportive and healthy group culture we create on our programs.

It is incredibly disappointing for the students, families, program instructors, and Pacific Discovery when we have to dismiss a student. Our aim is to have 100% of our students complete their program, however this is not always the case. On average, we dismiss 1-5 students per season.

Students have been dismissed for the following reasons: Drug-taking, alcohol consumption, mental health reasons, behavioral reasons, law-breaking, risk-taking behaviors, bullying, disrupting the group dynamic, lying to instructors, not meeting our essential eligibility criteria, and non-disclosure of physical or mental health conditions.

In the event of a dismissal, no refund of program tuition is made and all costs associated with the dismissal are borne by the student and family.

Depending upon the nature of the incident, families may not receive any pre-warning that a student is to be removed. Once the decision has been made to dismiss a student, Pacific Discovery will inform the student's family then liaise with the family and STA travel (if applicable) to organize travel arrangements and logistics of the dismissal. Our general requirement is that the student departure occurs within 48 hours of the dismissal. Pacific Discovery will help the student(s) to get to the airport for their departure.