Create an Account | Login

Community Based Organization

Organization Location: 
Bocas del Toro
Give & Surf, Inc.

Average Rating

  • Bocas del Toro, Panama
English, Spanish
Organization Description

Give & Surf is a small locally embedded nonprofit organization committed to empowering the indigenous communities of Bocas del Toro, Panama through education and community development. Since its inception in 2011, Give & Surf has served hundreds of students in its educational programs and extracurricular activities including preschool, kindergarten, summer school, English classes, sports, surfing, mentorship programs and more. Additionally, we have worked with the local communities to improve their infrastructure by helping to raise funds and provide volunteers to build new schools, playgrounds, a community center, water systems, docks, sidewalks, and more. Most of our work is on Bastimentos Island in the villages of Bahia Roja and Bahia Honda but we've recently expanded some of our extracurricular activities and ESL classes to the communities of Solarte, Old Bank, and Bocas Town and have also started building new schools in various communities around the archipelago.


Volunteers of all ages & types welcome! We encourage individual travelers, friends, families & groups to come volunteer with us for anywhere from a week to several months! Plus, internships and gap year programs available as well.

Over 200 volunteers from around the world help us each year & are critical in helping us to teach and lead programs, raise funds, and support new projects. As a small organization, we typically have 2-6 volunteers staying with us at any given time throughout the year ranging from one week to three months. Volunteers have the opportunity to be immersed in the local communities and work with preschool and primary school students each morning. Volunteers will help the Director of Education plan the curriculum and activities for the week and are encouraged to share their passions & hobbies with the kids. Past volunteers have introduced our students to yoga, photography, arts, various sports, and more! No previous experience working with kids is required... just a love for having fun & being around them! After a group lunch either in the community or the main town, the afternoons are open to spend enjoying everything the beautiful Bocas islands have to offer including surfing, going to beach, hiking, snorkeling, swimming & more! Volunteers will stay in a our staff & volunteer house which is a beautiful, rustic wood house off a private dock with a wraparound porch overlooking the ocean. Volunteers & staff often cook family-style dinners together; freshly caught fish after an afternoon of spearfishing is often a favorite!


Give and Surf directly serves a population of over 400 Ngobe community members living in the communities of Bahia Roja, Bahia Honda with its daily programs that run year-round. Hundreds more are served in various other communities where we offer ESL classes, scholarships, extracurricular activities, and assistance with community development projects. These impoverished, remote communities survive mainly off subsistence living without electricity, running water, clean drinking water, and bathroom facilities and with limited access to education and medical care.

For these reasons Give & Surf aims to provide sustainable, long-term assistance and programs to over 130 children ages three to sixteen each week. Give & Surf has constructed and developed two schools in Bahia Honda and Bahia Roja that provide the following: a daily preschool and kindergarten, summer school, surf outreach mentorship program, adult and primary school English programs, and community development initiatives. Give & Surf and its supporters also sponsor the continued education of over 40 students in high school and university through a scholarship program that serves students in Bahia Roja, Bahia Honda, Bocas Town, Solarte, Old Bank, and Bocas del Drago.

Preschool and Kindergarten

Panama does not provide public preschool education in many remote areas of the country in spite of a universal acceptance that early childhood education is a critical component to a child’s development. For this reason we chose to open our doors to the preschool aged children of Bahia Honda in September 2011. This was accomplished in collaboration with our partners and friends from La Loma Jungle Lodge. We are incredibly proud and excited to now provide the communities of Bahia Roja and Bahia Honda early childhood education learning opportunities. In September of 2013 we adopted a Montessori curriculum focused on empowering our students to be independent through interacting with their environments and stimulating their senses. Our days consist of implementing this curriculum, reading, arts and crafts, trips to the playground, and special field trips. This is an amazing opportunity to provide the first generation of future all-stars an awesome and enriching experience. It is also great to practice and learn Spanish as they are very forgiving individuals with huge hearts and smiles.If you plan on volunteering in 2015 you can expect to volunteer with our preschool five days a week as well as with the elementary school right next door. We will need a lot of help with classroom setup, curriculum development, and teaching.

Summer School

Summer vacation for students is during the months of December through the end of February. To supplement the public education, Give and Surf has summer school classes to provide engaging activities and new experiences to further develop our student’s understanding of the world. During this time we develop a schedule focused on different themes that combine the environment, experiential learning, and self-expression. The summer schedule combines multiple 2-5 week courses with one centralized theme. Volunteers develop lesson plans that are intended to be engaging and cultivate the students’ creativity. If you’re volunteering while summer school is in session, you can look forward to building lesson plans and curricula for the summer school courses.

Surf Outreach Mentorship Program

SOMP is a new program whose mission is to empower the youth of Bahía Roja through increased understanding and appreciation of the ocean as well as focus on character development, academics, and ESL. The sport of surfing serves as the guiding tool unifying the group through activities, studies, and mentorship. It is our goal to provide the youth of Bahia Roja with enriching academic and social experiences and promote growth as responsible and character-rich individuals in a fun and inclusive way. These youth who attend colegio grades 7th-9th from 12-6 Monday through Friday attend SOMP three days a week in the morning from 9-11. Students are given the opportunity to learn surfing skills within the framework of educational and character support, growing their mental and human capacities as responsible members of society.

Adult and Elementary School ESL Programs for Bahia Honda and Bahia Roja

We provide the dedicated adults of Bahia Honda and Bahia Roja with the opportunity to learn english twice a week. Learning english is tremendously important for the adults to progress and have employment opportunities. Because Bocas del Toro has a large influx of English-speaking tourists year-round, English is a language that is of great value for our students to learn. By providing them with working knowledge of English, their education will progress and employment opportunities broaden. In addition to adult English classes, Give & Surf teaches English in Bahia Roja and Bahia Honda five days a week as part of their regular school curriculum.
Childcare / Children, Education, Sports
Skills Needed
A passion for working with children, Positive attitude & open mind, Sense of adventure
Accommodation Provided - Minimum Stay: 1 week
Average Cost per Week ($USD)
$700 per week
Estimate only - contact this Organization for actual costs to Volunteer
  • Pre-Departure Orientation
  • 1 Meal per Day
  • Volunteer Hostel
  • Local Transport
  • Airport Pickup and Drop Off

Costs do not include Flights, Visas, Vaccinations, Insurance, Spending Money, 3-Meals-per-Day, 2-Meals-per-Day, Homestay, Internet
Emily Talentino


Give & Surf, Inc. Average Ratings
Volunteering with Give&Surf was an amazing experience that offered me a new perspective and better understanding of giving back in a meaningful way that is not intrusive on a communities culture. I was working with members of the community as well as teaching school to pre-school and elementary children. Members of the community welcomed Give&Surf volunteers and were warm and cheerful. The beautiful little kids would dive into your arms at the beginning of the day thrilled to be attending school. It was an enlightening and touching experience that will remain with me for the rest of my life. I can't wait to visit Give&Surf again down the road and see the progress that all the kids have made.
A classroom full of smiles from the preschool students of Escuelita in Bocas del Toro, Panama is the fondest memory I have volunteering with Give & Surf. From school boat pick-ups to making paper bag animal puppets to a fun-filled field day, spending time with the most appreciative and happiest children I’ve met was a blessing. The unique community of Bahia Honda greeted me with kindness, as I spent a short stint teaching and I instantly fell in love with this exotic place for the first time in Jan2014. I decided to spend my birthday giving and helping others but in the end I found they’ve given me much more. Jungle life in this peaceful paradise is a wonderful experience but it’s the people that make Bocas memorable. Since then, I've returned each year to volunteer with Give...
Volunteering with Give & Surf was an amazing experience! Everyone affiliated with the organization was awesome, friendly, and supportive. The location (Bocas Del Toro, Panama) has incredible beaches, with endless fun activities to partake in like snorkeling, surfing, and scuba diving. It is also a very safe location, and the local residents are very welcoming to visitors. As far as volunteer projects go, Give & Surf provides numerous activities to get involved in and all of them are hands on. You get the opportunity to work directly in the communities and interact with local residents, making your experience all the more meaningful. The best part is going to the school that was built and currently operated by Give & Surf, and seeing all the little kids with such bright smiles...