FAQs Children Camps

This is where you will find most answers. If there should still be any questions left, don't hesitate to contact us.


What airport do the students fly in and out of?

Families with children attending the Art, Sports and Spanish camp in Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica should fly in and out of Liberia International Airport (LIR). It is not mandatory that ISLS does the airport, but we can arrange it if so desired.

What is the average age of Children on this camp?
There really isn’t an average age of the Children Camps. The age range is 2 to 13 years of age. All students are divided up into age appropriate classes. The 2 to 4-year olds do essentially a Spanish day care for 2, 4 or 6 hours/day. We split the rest of the ages as follows: 5 to 7, 8 to 10 and 11 to 13. All of the students in these subsequent levels are also divided into small groups by their level of Spanish ability. Students in the 11 to 13 age group also do more formal Spanish lessons each week, 6 hours more for a total of 16 hours/week.
What are the hours of the Camp?
Drop off each morning, Monday through Friday is at 8am. The camp will last 6 hours, and the parents will then pick their children up at 2pm. There may be times when this schedule will be altered to accommodate a specific activity, but each day will be at least six hours long.
Does the camp still happen on local Holidays?
Yes, the Children’s and Teen Camps will still happen on local holidays. Adults will not have Spanish classes. There is no refund for lost group Spanish classes, however, private lessons can be switched to a different day.
What are the Children’s Spanish classes like?
Each day students attend at least two hours of Spanish classes . These are very fun and interactive classes specifically designed for eachage group. It includes games and field trips as well workbooks and some homework. The idea is to keep the students active and interested the entire time they are taking classes. The Middle School Group classes take place at our adult Spanish school and are more academically rigorous. There are also 6 additional hours of in class instruction for a total of 16 hours/week.
Are their additional Private Spanish Lessons?
Yes, we have additional private lessons for all ages and needs. For the Children’s Camp, we have private and semi-private lessons available from 2:30pm to 4:30pm. These spaces are very limited and usually sell out completely, so advanced reservation is advised. Adults can sign up for private and semi-private lessons as well. Let us know how many hours and we can give you a quote.
Will my child have a chance to interact with local children?
Yes. Throughout the program there will be opportunities for the children in the camp to meet and play with local Costa Rican children. We have set up lunches, times to swim at the beach and soccer matches with children of our host families and teachers. This allows the children on our camp to get to know more about the local people and culture.
Is this a Spanish only camp?
All of our teachers, counselors, surf instructors, lifeguards, drivers and tour guides are local, native Spanish speakers. All materials and lessons in the classroom will be in Spanish only and our counselors the rest of the time will only speak to the students in Spanish. However, we do NOT force the children to only speak Spanish to each other. Since most of our students are native English speakers, they tend to speak to each other in English. Also, we will always have at least one English speaker there to assist in an emergency and for important safety instructions. The teachers, counselors and staff always do their utmost to encourage the students to speak and interact in Spanish.
Can Adults attend Spanish classes?
Yes. Our Spanish language institute is open year-round for adult Spanish classes. Many of our parents choose to take classes while their children are in the camp. Parents do not have to study Spanish, but it is available for those who wish it.
Can we stay with a host family?
Yes. We have host families that are capable of housing up to five students. These families are located in Villareal, which is about 3 miles inland from Playa Tamarindo. A shuttle service is available in the morning and afternoon to bring students and parents to the school campus. Parents are not required to take Spanish classes to stay with a host family, if at least one family member is in the Family Camp.
What lodging options are available in Tamarindo?

Playa Tamarindo has numerous housing options for families with children on the camp. ISLS has created a private on-campus lodging compound for our camp families. We have four different options for our families. Availability is limited, so first come, first serve.

  • Private Room
    For one or two adults and one small child; full sized bed and one small sofa bed. Private bath, a/c, fan, hot water and access to communal kitchen and laundry, $75/night.
  • Studio Apartment 
    For up to four, two adults and two children; Queen sized bed and bunkbed. Private kitchen, bath, a/c, fan, hot water, smart tv, private balcony and access to laundry, $115/night.
  • 2 Bdrm Apartment
    For up to five, two adults and three children; Queen sized bed in 1st room and bunkbed and single bed in 2nd. Private kitchen, bath, a/c, fan, hot water, smart tv, wifi, private balcony and access to laundry, $155/night.
  • 3 Bdrm Apartment
    For up to 8, four adults and four children; Queen bed in 1st room, Full bed and sofa bed in 2nd room, bunkbedand single bed in 3rd. Private kitchen, bath, a/c, fan, hot water, smart tv, wifi, private balcony and access to laundry, $ 205/night.

Other important questions

Are airport pick and drop off included in the camp price?

There is only one camp where the airport pick-up and return are included in the camp price and that is the Teen Spanish, Service & Turtle Rescue. This is a two week only camp and all participants are required to arrive on the specific start date of the camp and depart on the specific end date of the camp. For students attending the Service and Turtle Rescue Camp, they will fly in and out of San Jose (SJO). All other camp students; adults, children, families, teen day campers and teen residential campers on the Surf Camp and the Adventure Camp, airport transports are additional. The cost, per way, depends upon the airport, the camp and the number of people being picked up at one time. Please check each individual camp for exact pricing.

Arrival? How are students met at the airport?
Students attending our Teen Spanish, Service and Sea Turtle Rescue Camp in Turrialba must arrive no later than 3pm into San Jose Airport (SJO) on the Saturday of their camp start date. Students attending any of our camps in Playa Tamarindo must arrive no later than 4pm into Liberia Airport (LIR) on their specific start date. If students cannot arrive before these times on their start date, it is an option for students to arrive the night before. There is a $75 additional fee which includes the night’s lodging, meals and supervision. In most cases, students’ travel arrangements are made by their parents. We will attempt to help parents make these arrangements and make sure that as many students as possible arrive on the same flights. Once flight arrangements have been made, ISLS will need to be informed of all pertinent information including airline, flight number and flight time. Before the start of each camp we will give parents a list of all other students traveling on the same flights. Parents and students from the same area many times get together to meet beforehand to get acquainted. Upon arrival at either airport, once students have had their passports stamped and have picked up their luggage, they will exit the secure airport terminal. Waiting at the exit will be an ISLS representative, who will have a sign listing the names of those arriving at that time. Students will then be taken to the waiting school van where they will stow their bags and wait for the other campers to arrive. Once all students from a given plane have been accounted for, they are transported to their camp location and checked into their lodging. It will be at this time that they will be able to contact their families back home to let them know that they arrived safely. Please allow 2 to 3 hours for them to contact you.
When are students supposed to arrive and depart their camp?
Students need to arrive on the first day of their chosen camp. This means that if the camp starts on June 17TH that is the day that we want them to arrive. As to the time, it depends on which campus they are attending first: Turrialba – 3pm SJO, Tamarindo- 4pm LIR. If a student cannot arrive on time on the start date, they can arrive the day before for an additional fee. The departure date is the last day of the camp. If the program is scheduled to end July 16th, then that is the day that the student will need to depart. They can depart anytime that day from the early morning to late in the evening. Departure dates are on Saturday or Mondays, depending upon which Camp you choose.
Can Parents accompany their children on the Teen Camp?
Yes, with a qualification. Many parents or other adult members of the family have chosen over the years to visit Costa Rica at the same time as our camps. There are a number of different ways that this has happened. Some parents or other family members have attended our Adult Spanish Immersion programs at the same site as their child’s camp or at one of our other locations in the country. Because of the different ways that the adult and youth programs are scheduled, students and parents aren’t tripping over each other, but are still in the same location. Another popular way is for the parents to fly down with their children early, travel around on their own and then when the program starts, drop them off with us. Conversely parents have also arrived in the country shortly before their child’s camp ends and then pick them up and then travel around on their own. The main qualification that we make for parents or other adults that accompany a student on our program is that they give that student enough room to experience the camp. Attending a dinner here or there or going on one of the camp tours is fine. Attending every single event, dinner and class with your child, while staying at the same hotel, is not. If parents want to combine a vacation or their own language learning program with their child’s, we are happy to have you along. We also have the Day Camp option, which allows your children to stay with you at night and on the weekends.
Can ISLS and Explornatura help us with travel arrangements?

Yes. We can help parents make flight arrangement for their students and will happily book the tickets for you. If you are taking part in any discount involving a free airline ticket, then we will automatically make the flight arrangements. Please see separate rules in regard to these specials. We can also help to make travel arrangements for those families wanting to travel to Costa Rica themselves. We have a tour company, Explornatura, which is a part of our family of companies in Costa Rica. The staff can help create custom itineraries for families that want to travel around the country, before, during or after our youth camp sessions. You can contact Massi Devoto at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Just let him know that you are with ISLS and our Spanish Camp, he will help you make all your travel plan

Do I need a water bottle?

We recommend that all students bring their own water bottles. At many locations, students will have access to drinking water and can fill the bottles. Bottled water may also be bought. In order to prevent the spread of any illness, we discourage the sharing of water bottles. The bottles should hold at least 16 ounces and should have the student’s name on it. At the host family, the water is potable but if you want to purchase bottled water there are plenty of stores at all of our camp locations that sell it.

Do I need a Passport?

All students will need to have current passports that do not expire for at least six months after arrival. Upon checking into the school at each camp location, students will turn in their passports to the lead counselor. These will be stored in a safe and returned to students at the end of the program at the airport. If students need to cash traveler’s checks or need their passport for any other reason during the program, they will be made available by the counselors.

How do I call home?

When students first arrive in Costa Rica they will be given an opportunity to call home and let their families know that they have arrived safely. The cost of this call is included in the camp price, as well as any emergency calls. Most students now bring their smart phones. There are numerous different apps for them to use while connected to the internet.

Can I bring my cell phone?

We would prefer not to have students bring cell phones on the program, but it is not realistic. Parents want to be able to get a hold of their kids and they want their kids to be able to communicate if there are any problems. We do however have some rules about use of the cell phones. They are strictly forbidden during Spanish classes. It is disrespectful and disruptive to the teacher and the rest of the class. Continued breaking of this rule can lead to the student’s phone being taken away. Also, during other camp activities, we ask that students refrain from using them. Also, if you choose to send your child with a phone, you will need to check with your individual US carrier for details about international plans and rates.

Will I have access to internet?

All students will have access to the internet. When students arrive in Costa Rica, they will be able to e-mail their families. This is in addition to the phone call that all students can make when they arrive. Throughout the program, internet access and e-mail will be available for free or for a nominal fee, depending on location.

Can I bring my laptop?

We would highly recommend against students bringing laptops. There is really no need as you will have daily access to internet and the hotels do not have internet access in the rooms. It is just one more thing to carry around and worry about; since we are traveling a lot in a tropical country, there are a great many things that can happen to it. Many students to bring tablets and smart phones.

Who will be my roommate? Will I have a roommate?

For camps with hotel lodging, students will have roommates. Students who are traveling by themselves will be assigned roommates. These roommates will be other campers of similar age and gender. If students are traveling with friends or family members, they can choose either to room together or separately. Please inform us of your preference prior to the program start date. For the Spanish, Service and Sea Turtle Rescue Camp in Turrialba students are housed individually or with other students in local Costa Rican houses. If students are traveling together and want to stay with the same family, we can do this. Also, if you would like your student to be the only students in a local family, we can do this too, just let us know. We place students in the same neighborhood and is some cases next door to each other.

What happens if a student has an accident or gets sick? Do you notify parents?

If an accident, illness or any other mishap should occur, the student’s parents or legal guardian will be immediately contacted. If medical attention is required, the parents will be informed of the doctor’s evaluation and prognoses. All treatment will be cleared with parents before proceeding unless we are unable to get a hold of the parent and the situation is such that immediate attention is required. Each parent will be required to sign a medical release form in case this should become necessary.

Are there emergency contact numbers?

Before departure, each student will receive a confirmation letter which will contain all of the emergency contact numbers for the camp of their choice. This will include all of the phone numbers and e-mail address for the counselors, hotels and Spanish schools. Parents will be able to get a hold of the lead counselor at any time, 24 hours/day, on their emergency cell phone.

How do students leave Costa Rica? Do you get them on their planes?

At the end of each program, students will be transported by our van to their prospective flights. Counselors will accompany each group to the airport, walking them through the check in lines and getting them their seat assignments. Staff will be with the students up to the security check in line. At this point the students will pass through on their own to their gates. The San Jose International airport (SJO) is avery small and convenient airport, and LIR in Liberia is even smaller. Students will be able to go to their gates very easily and get on the plane. Should something happen after the time that the student has left the counselors at security, they will have phone cards and the lead counselor’s cell phone number and can contact him or her immediately.

How do I change money?

At the beginning of each program, every student will be given the opportunity to change money into the local currency. Depending on destination and the itinerary, this will usually happen the first Monday morning of the program and councilors will walk students through the process. During the rest of the program students will be able to change money at the hotel or local banks in the town. It is actually easier to use an ATM card to take out money in the local currency.

How much money should students bring?

We recommend that students bring down no more than $100 per week. The reason for this is that almost everything is covered in the price of the program. In addition to the airport exit tax, the only things that students usually spend money on are extra drinks, dessert, gifts and souvenirs. Most students come back with money they did not spend.

What kind of transportation do you use?

All in country transportation is included in the price of the program. We use primarily private vans to transport students. These are driven by professional local drivers. We also use large buses on some occasions and these are also driven by professional local drivers. All drivers and vehicles are insured, well maintained and meet all local safety standards.

What is the Student/Counselor ratio?

At each camp we have a maximum of 9 students per counselor ratio. This guarantees a high level of supervision. In addition to the counselors are the Spanish teachers, language school personnel, our drivers, hotel staff and host families. We have been doing these Spanish language programs for many years in these destinations and have a large local workforce.

How do you place students in the Spanish classes?

Students can attend all of our Spanish camps with any level of Spanish ability. We have students who have never attended a Spanish class to those that come from Spanish speaking families and everything in between. We never put students of different Spanish levels together in the same class. On the first day of classes all students are given an oral and written evaluation with the Spanish director. From this we determine the student’s language ability at the start of the program. They are then placed into small groups of students with their same level of ability. Throughout the program students are monitored and if need be their level and class placement is adjusted. A fact to remember is that most students from the United States who have had Spanish classes before are normally much more advanced with the written form of the language than they are with the oral form. For this reason, students may be placed in class levels that will go over grammar and lessons that they already know in order to get their conversational ability to match their written.

Will I receive a Certificate of Completion for my Spanish classes?

Yes. Every student on each of our youth camps will receive a certificate of completion for their time in our program. This will state the number of hours, the level reached and the time and place of the program. With this many students will be able to get credit at their high school for the time they spent in our program. If a certificate needs to be more specific for an individual student or high school’s needs, we can customize the forms.

What steps do you take to keep the students safe?

For all of our Youth Spanish and Adventure Camps, safety is the highest priority. In everything that we do, from choosing the camp locations and types of hotels and host families to picking adventure outfitters for our tours, creating a safe and enjoyable environment is our guiding principle. The camps are located in small communities with low crime rates. All of our hotels are in safe areas with security staff, medical facilities, emergency equipment and bilingual employees. All of our tour operators are licensed by their prospective governments and meet all standards of training and equipment maintenance. We do a safety seminar with the teens at the beginning of each program. During the camp, students will never be allowed outside the hotel, school, host family or organized activities by themselves. During free time students must be with other students and check out and in with the lead counselor or their host mother. Each location has boundaries outside of which campers are not allowed. Nightly curfews and our zero tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol are strictly enforced. Students are only allowed to swim or surf at the beach when and where lifeguards are present. At all three beach camps, we meet with the local head lifeguard to go over rules of the beach and the current tide conditions. We always try to anticipate any possible dangers so we are better able to avoid them.

Have you had a student seriously injured in the past?

Thankfully, we have never had a student seriously injured on one of our Youth Spanish and Adventure Camps. Every year we have our share of cuts, scraps, bruises and upset stomachs, but no broken bones or life threatening accidents. In each case that was deemed necessary for a student to see a doctor, the parent or guardian was contacted. We have had many ear infections and on one camp we even had an outbreak of strep! In these cases students were taken to the local hospital or clinic and given medication to cure their ailments. Parents are notified of any injury or illness that their children may have and their made aware of any medication that has been prescribed.

What is the crime like in Costa Rica? Is it safe?

Costa Rica is one of the safest countries in the world. They have no standing army, so they have no culture of war or weapons. They have no history of kidnappings or abductions. Costa Rica has the second fewest number of assaults in the world and other types of violent crime are equally low. Having said all of this, as everywhere, there is still some crime as well as the presence of drugs. Parents should speak to their teens in advance and help them understand that there is a certain amount of inherent risk to traveling. The best way to prevent crimes from happening is to not put yourself in compromising positions. Following the rules of the camps as well as having common sense will help to ensure a safe experience.


The ISLS Youth Spanish Camp Rules constitute the foundation of safety for all of our programs. We want our students to have a safe, healthy and enjoyable time with us and this means following our very reasonable rules. Breaking of these rules will result in loss of privileges and in some cases dismissal from the program without refund. Drugs, alcohol and tobacco are not permitted on the program and ISLS reserves the right to search for illegal substances if counselors deem it necessary. If a student is caught drinking alcohol or doing illegal drugs, their parents are immediately notified and the student will be sent home. We have a zero tolerance policy and parents will be liable for any additional costs incurred in sending a student home. Behavior that is detrimental to the safety and enjoyment of all students will not be tolerated.

Where do the students on ISLS and Explornatura camps come from?

Most of our students come from the United States. About 80% of the students come from every state in the union. About 10% come from Canada and the rest usually come from Europe. We have had students from Taiwan, Australia, South Africa, Nigeria and New Zealand too.

What if I don’t like it?

It is extremely rare for students to not enjoy their time in our Summer Teen Spanish and Adventure Camps. It is very important that parents make sure that their children are mature and capable of handling this type of program. Our camp is not for every child. Some of the reasons for students to not enjoy the program are not giving it a chance, problems with our drug and alcohol policy or having a negative attitude upon arrival. We only want students who truly want to be in our program.

What experience do I need?

Most students who attend our summer programs have taken some Spanish classes, but this is not required. If a student has no experience in the language, that is fine. Also, you do not need to know how to surf in order to be a part of this program. All we require is that students be in relatively good physical shape and that they know how to swim.

Health & Vaccinations?
Since our programs are located in different places, we recommend that you check with the CDC at www.cdc.gov and with your local physician. You may also check with a local travel clinic in your area for up to date health information. It is each parent’s responsibility to know if any vaccinations or other precautions are required for the country and location of the camp you choose. Generally, we recommend that each student have their Hepatitis A shot as well as their Tetanus shot updated, but Costa Rica do not require any vaccines.

If you need or want to make a change to your reservation once it is confirmed, you can. For the Family Spanish camp there is a $50/family fee. For one of our Teen Spanish Camps, there is a $50/student fee. For all of our Adult Spanish Programs, there is a $25/student change fee. All changes are subject to availability

Refund Policy?

There is a nonrefundable $200 registration fee. ISLS will refund 50% of the balance of the deposit up to 8 weeks prior to the start of the program. Once we receive full payment for the program, we will refund 50% of the total amount minus the registration fee until the start of the program. Once the program has begun there is NO refund of the program price. Cancellation of the program must be in writing, either by e-mail or letter.