Program Design

Our goal with every program is to support self-discovery, personal growth and global awareness through immersive adventure travel in amazing places around the world.

We have designed each program following six core program components: education, service-learning, cultural immersion, ethical travel and sustainability, wilderness exploration and outdoor adventure, leadership and personal development.


Our programs are experiential education programs, meaning that learning is hands-on and tangible. For example, students will learn about a country’s history and culture by immersing themselves in it, meeting local people and hearing life stories.

Experience on its own does not translate into learning. But learning from your experiences is important. To encourage ‘learning from experience’ our program leaders facilitate opportunities for participants to regularly reflect upon their experiences, and provide historical, cultural, geographical and environmental background so that personal experience can be connected to a broader understanding of place.

The educational component of our programs is multi-disciplinary and covers:

Host country: history, politics, culture, geography, ecology, environmental and social issues. 
Broader themes: globalization, development, environmentalism, religion, ethics and sustainability. 
How to travel: how to plan and keep safe, realities of life on the road, ethical and sustainable travel. 
Outdoor education: learning the soft and hard skills of a number of outdoor activities, such as camping, trekking, cycling, canoeing (varies by program). 
Group skills: collaboration, leadership, communication, facilitation and trust. 
Personal Development: New skills and interests, resilience, self-reliance, self-reflection, self-discovery and personal direction.

Ethical Travel & Sustainability

Travel and the realities of ‘life on the road’ teaches a lot of valuable lessons: how to communicate and relate to people from different cultures; how to be happy with few possessions and a simple life; how to overcome temporary discomfort. Travel ultimately exposes students to the myriad possibilities and realities in the world and in their lives. This allows for personal growth and a clarity in students' passion and direction as they do this important learning away from the expectations of family, friends, and peers.

Our goal is that students will learn the ‘Tao of Travel’ – how to plan; how to keep safe; what to take; and how to be comfortable and find what you need in an unfamiliar place. By the end of a program, we expect most students will have the skills necessary to travel safely anywhere on earth.

Students will also gain a deeper understanding of ethics and sustainability through learning respect for local customs; developing meaningful cross-cultural relationships; learning minimum-impact grassroots travel techniques and coming to understand social and ecological issues on a deeper level. Students will learn that the world is both infinitely large, full of possibility, and yet also very small, in that our personal choices affect all living things.

Service-learning: Volunteer and Community Service Projects

Service-learning elements built into our programs allow participants to really immerse themselves in a place and share an experience with local people, bridging the gap that often exists between visitor and host. We work hard to ensure that the work our groups are grounded in community needs, vision and are executed through local leadership. Additionally, volunteer work helps build self-confidence and self-belief as students learn new skills and take on new roles. Service-learning components vary by program. 

Examples undertaken by students are: 

  • habitat restoration and species monitoring.
  • assisting local students with English-language development.
  • improving school environments in poor rural communities.

Outdoors and Wilderness Exploration

We use the wilderness as a medium to take participants outside their comfort zones and challenge them. Personal growth and self-confidence increases through overcoming obstacles presented during the program.

Immersion in the wilderness is also an opportunity for participants to become more grounded, develop an appreciation for wild places and explore local environmental issues as they relate to global patterns and problems.

A variety of outdoor and adventure activities are included in our programs, such as backpacking, rafting, canoeing, rock climbing, snorkeling, and mountain biking. These activities require physical effort, mastery of technique, teamwork and trust between members of the group.

Pacific Discovery takes a 'challenge by choice' approach to the adventure components of our programs. Adventure activities and instruction are aimed at the novice/beginner level, and no prior experience in any of the activities is required. However, we are able to facilitate more challenges for anyone who is experienced in a particular discipline. Students do need to have a fitness level where they are able to comfortably hike for 4+hours with a backpack.

Cultural Immersion

Our students are not travelling in a ‘bubble’ separated from local people; instead we immerse participants in the local culture, through home-stays (may change due to our Covid protocols), volunteer projects, and language study. Participants learn empathy for other cultures and build bridges of shared understanding.

Personal and Leadership Development

By taking participants out of their comfort zone and challenging them physically, culturally and mentally, we encourage students to gain confidence in their abilities and provide a supportive group environment where they can grow. Throughout the program, participants are given leadership opportunities from facilitating reflection to coordinating the daily schedule. Facilitation and feedback allows participants to further develop their skills. This is strengthened by creating an intentional learning community where the group gathers to make meaning of what they’ve seen and apply it to broader global themes as well as personal application.