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Day One: Arrive to Costa Rica

Today will be Day one of the Costa Rica adventure. The Roth family will do their part in traveling with the students from Ridgefield to San Jose where the Roth’s team up with the CRR crew and begin the adventure of a lifetime on this one week epic trip.

Night One: Bienvenidos!

After a long travel day, the Ridgefield group is finally getting ready for bed! Upon arrival, we were greeted but our two local guides — Eric and Ima — and our two lovely bus drivers — Nacho and Eli. Stomachs were rumbling after a long, delayed flight so our first stop was lunch! Students enjoyed their first taste of traditional Costa Rican comida — passionfruit juice, plantains, rice, beans, chicken and pork fajitas, and more. With full bellies and tired eyes, we got back on the bus and drove a little over 3 hours to La Fortuna, where we will be spending the next two nights. After a quick dinner at the hotel, travelers headed back to their room to shower the travel day off of them (hopefully!) and get prepared for the long day ahead tomorrow!

Day Two: Zipline, Organic Farm & Hot Springs… Oh My!

As we close out day 2, the travelers are taking some time to unwind in the hot springs here in La Fortuna. Our day began at 7:30am with breakfast and the buses rolled out shortly after. We headed to Sky Trek Zipline, an annual crowd favorite to get the adrenaline pumping. There was definitely a mix of excitement and nervousness as we approached the gondola to bring everyone up to the first zipline. The park consisted of 7 lines — the longest being over 45 seconds and the highest reaching over 700 feet. One by one, Ridgefield students took off screaming, yelling and cheering each other on! 

After such an adventurous activity, we had worked up an appetite and headed to arguably the best meal of the trip… Don Juan’s organic farm! Everything students ate for lunch was produced sustainably from the farm, including yucca, papaya root, squash, pork and tilapia. The second half of our farm visit was a tour of the property and our guides, Gustavo and Natasha, took us around to various activities. We learned about how cacao is used to make chocolate, saw how cow’s methane is used for electricity, and tasted several “superfoods”. Everyone’s strength was put to the test in our final activity of harvesting fresh sugar cane juice before using it to “toast” everyone farewell from the farm.

By mid-afternoon students had the chance to explore one of the most popular city squares. Lined with souvenir shops and local restaurants, the town of La Fortuna certainly benefited from the student’s wallets today. Don’t worry parents — many students were eager to show us the gifts they picked up for you along the way 🙂 

Our first full day ended with swimming and dinner at Los Lagos hot springs. Some students could be seen flying down the water slide while others were lounging with their virgin pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris, pool hopping from one hot spring to another. We soaked up the final hours poolside, with the Arenal Volcano looming in the background.

Tomorrow, we head to Turrialba to meet our host families for the next two nights! Pura Vida! 

Day Three: Welcome to the Homestay!

Although the day started out with a downpour in La Fortuna, it turned out to be one of the most beautiful days the Roth family has ever seen! We arrived to Sitio de Mata by midday and were greeted by our host moms and their families outside the town’s community center. Soon after, we had a chance to help prepare lunch before being formally introduced to everyone in the homestay community. Birthday cake was served to celebrate Max’s 14th birthday and a set of quadruplets from Sitio de Mata who turned 18! Afterwards, students were led back to their homes to regroup, see where they would be sleeping for the next two nights and get changed to meet back at the soccer field for our first community service activity.

Five years ago, another Ridgefield group constructed soccer field benches and it was clear that they were in need of a little revamp. Students cleaned, sanded and painted for over an hour to beautify this part of town. The entire town of Sitio de Mata uses this soccer field and the neighboring community center quite frequently, so there is no doubt that these benches will be put to good use!

We closed out the evening with our annual Ridgefield vs. Sitio soccer game and, safe to say, the locals always win… although Zach and Stella had some stellar goals that gave our Ridgefield team some hope! For the rest of the night, students stayed with their homestay family where they enjoyed dinner, some games and the true Costa Rican experience. Before sending them off to their homes for the night, we reminded them to embrace the discomfort of being in a new place, be in the moment, and pura vida!

P.S – Below is a handful of the 1000+ photos that we have taken thus far… all of the photos will be shared with you all shortly after the trip ends!

Day Four: Exploring Sitio de Mata & Giving Back

What woke you up this morning?” is always our favorite question to ask students after the first night in the homestay. The answers ranged from “my homestay mom” to “it sounded like the chickens were right behind my head” to “cows mooing” and “sugarcane trucks rumbling by”. Students enjoyed breakfast in their homes before meeting at the community center next to the soccer field for our second part of community service.

We were joined by Roberto, the founder of RAFA (Rivers and Forests Alliance). The Rivers and Forests Alliance is a Costa Rican nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, protecting, and regenerating Costa Rica’s Pacuare River Basin, its forests, and biodiversity together with our communities for a sustainable future. The organization was created in memory of Roberto’s father, Rafa, who passed away in March 2021 after a 14-month battle with cancer. In his final months, he outlined his conservation dreams of environmental stewardship and protecting his beloved Pacuare River Basin. His vision became RAFA – the Rivers and Forests Alliance. He planted the seed, and his family and friends have united to honor his lifelong work and carry forward his dream. You can check out more of what RAFA does on their website ( and/or contribute to the cause here .

Students created mud balls containing microorganisms that would eventually be launched into the Pacuare River. The river’s water dissolves the mud, releasing the microorganisms that restore a healthy balance in the ecosystem, thereby increasing the river’s self-purification ability. We certainly got our hands dirty… some of us got a bit carried away at the end with the mud and Mrs. Roth could be seen running towards the cleanest students with two huge mud balls in her hands… 🙂

After having a chance to go back to their homestays and clean up a bit, the majority of students joined us for a hike up to the sugarcane fields for a beautiful view of the valley below. We learned about how the sugarcane is harvested and used to power the local economy after talking to one of the workers in the fields that we passed.

Students ate lunch back with their families before returning to the local elementary school. We distributed the backpacks that our Ridgefield students brought and put aside a few others for the kids at the orphanage who we will be visiting tomorrow morning. Although school is not in session for two weeks due to the mid-year vacations, the school principal welcomed us on the recess yard and gave us a quick tour around some of the classrooms.

As the afternoon rain pours down, students are back with their homestay families for an afternoon snack, some rest and a shower before meeting at the community center for the fiesta! Pura Vida!

Day Four: Fiesta Time!

After some heavy thunderstorms, we met back at the community center to kickoff our final night here at the homestay. The whole community came together for a fiesta with multiple dance performances from the local children and our homestay moms. For the grand finale, a professional soccer freestyler performed and even had some Ridgefield volunteers doing tricks! (Check out Dayron’s instagram here: Following lots of cheering, clapping and dancing, everyone ate dinner and enjoyed another hour on the dance floor before heading back to their homestays to get a good night’s sleep ahead of rafting the Pacuare River tomorrow!

Day Five: Orphanage Visit & Rafting Down the Pacuare

Rise & Shine!! Our students visited the local orphanage this morning and played with the kids before heading back to the homestays for breakfast. Usually our visit here is a bit longer, however, the kids at the orphanage were invited on a field trip today so we were only able to see them for an hour. We played soccer, laughed on the seesaw and did a little show-and-tell with all their favorite stuffed animals.

We are about to head to the Pacuare River to embark on a two day rafting journey in and out of the Pacuare Outdoor Center (POC). It is important to note here that there is no electricity nor strong service at POC… although the local guides always seem to find a way to get cell service in case of emergencies. However, the blog will be on pause until Friday evening when we arrive back in San José and regain stronger cell service. 

In between rafting in and out of POC, students will enjoy a hike to a local waterfall, more ziplining and the infamous Tarzan Swing while being completely immersed in nature. POC is extremely unique in that way — it was built for its visitors to reconnect with Earth’s beauty and all it has to offer. Pictures and recap to come on Friday evening! 

Adios! Check back in on Friday! Pura Vida!

Day 5: Surprise Blog Post River Day was Epic!

Today we spent the day rafting the Pacuare River and arriving at the Ecolodge. The students were soaked from start to finish from paddling forward and backward, jumping off rocks, and having a river lunch on the side of the river this made for the perfect day.

In the afternoon we arrived at the Pacuare Outdoor Center where we had the kids play games and get situated in their cabins. After everyone settled, we had a nice rain and a delicious dinner to top off an incredible day.

Life in the rainforest isn’t that bad and the students are learning, having fun, and while not connected to their phones are connecting to nature and others. More pictures and videos to come on rafting. This is Tom here posting and snuck out of the lodge to get some service to send a quick update.

Day Six-Seven: Back on the Grid!

Greetings families! We are officially back on the grid after 48 hours in the rainforest. After we said goodbye to our homestay families on Wednesday, we experienced an incredible day of rafting to Pacuare Outdoor Center (POC) — the sun was shining, the water level was perfect and everyone made it down the river safely… with the exception of some sunburnt thighs 🙂 Along the way, we stopped at a waterfall for a swim and the riverbank for some lunch. 

After ~2.5 hours on the river, we reached POC. We made it to the lodge just in time for a HUGE downpour, along with some of the loudest thunder and brightest lightning we have ever seen. Students were assigned cabins and spent the rest of the night hanging out in the main lodge, playing games by candlelight and just enjoying time together. 

Woken up by the sunrise and kept awake from the constant symphony of cicadas, our kids were eating breakfast by 7:15am and ready for activities by 8. Unfortunately, the large storm impacted the Tarzan Swing and it was unable to be fixed while we were there 🙁 Luckily, everything else planned for the day was a “go”! Students had a chance to zipline through the trees, paint a postcard for someone who made this trip possible for them, and hike to a waterfall, climbing over boulders and trekking up steep hills to make it to the top. While hiking, we even encountered a sloth — the closest encounter the Roth family has ever seen in 14 years! It was out on the hiking path when we turned the corner and then eventually made its way up a tree so we could get a closer look at it. The wildlife show didn’t stop there — we saw loads of leafcutter ants, a few bullet ants, four toucans circling around the lodge, and even a white-tailed hawk.

After returning from the hike and having a chance to rest and shower, everyone came back down to the main lodge to play games and relax before dinner. Even though the pasta dinner was a big hit (anything but rice and beans seemed like a treat for these kids!), the real show came afterwards when everyone had a chance to see giant cockroach, known as Blaberus giganteus, scurrying around the main lodge floor. They are super common in the rainforest here… but not so common to the eyes of our travelers, who all quickly jumped to the nearest elevated surface. I captured a great video of everyone reacting, but it’s a bit too large to upload so be sure to take a look in the photos folder when it is shared after this trip 🙂

When we awoke the following morning, you could tell the river was running high and our river guides decided that the water level was a bit too dangerous. Instead, we made our way to a local soccer field and played a game before getting on the road to head to San Jose. Currently, we are heading to dinner and students are soaking up their last night together! We are looking forward to seeing all of you (@families!) tomorrow evening!


      1. enjoy every moment of this amazing adventure
        thanks for sharing knowledge of the world outside of U S A and modern conveniences
        as Grand parents we are thrilled to see these children learning that life isn’t easy in the real world.
        Pauline and John Mendez

    1. Yay I’m sure you will do the best job ever and I hope it’s a fun learning experience for everyone ❤️

  1. THANK YOU ROTH FAMILY! An amazing adventure about to begin for these kids — super excited to follow along via this blog! 🙂

  2. Thank you again parents for allowing us to take your amazing children on this adventure!!!!
    Let the fun begin!! See you at 3:00am. 🙂
    Pura Vida!! xoxo

  3. so excited! a few more hours. Thank you Roth family for taking our kids on the trip of a lifetime.

  4. Have a good flight and a wonderful time in Costa Rica! A big thank you to the Roth family and drivers this morning 💕

  5. So exciting for the kids!! Thank you so much for creating this amazing opportunity! Can’t wait to check updates!

  6. Amazing Adventures and adding a charity need makes this Exceptional !
    Thank You from a happy hearted
    granny ‘💓

  7. Hope you all have an amazing trip! Thank you, Roth family, for giving these kids such an unforgettable experience! 💛

  8. Such an awesome experience for these kids, thank you so much for everything you do to make this possible!
    I’ll be stalking this blog daily for updates and pictures, ha!! Have fun everyone ::)))

  9. So happy you arrived safely! Sounds like a long day. Get lots of sleep. Can’t wait to hear about tomorrow’s adventures and see all the pics. Love the smiles! Thank you!!!

  10. Thank you Roth Family and the other chaperones. I hope everyone is able to get some rest. Tomorrow’s adventure is going to be amazing.

  11. Love these pictures! ❤️ Enjoy every minute of your amazing adventure. Thank you to the Roth family for making it happen!!

  12. We’re so happy to see photos of all these smiling faces! Thank you for the update. Have a wonderful trip!

  13. Thank you Roth family. Love this blog! So happy to follow your adventure. Have a wonderful time!

  14. Thank you for keeping up updated! So fun to read about your days and seeing the photos. It made us smile 😁

  15. My heart is full to see all these incredible kiddos look so relaxed (without technology!) making actual eye contact and actively engaged in conversation and (gasp!) actually looking up and out around at the world around them to fully experience what will be unforgettable, life changing moments.
    This trip couldn’t have possibly come at a more poignant time in their young lives and I am so thankful for the Roth Family for curating this opportunity and enabling our children to bring the stories, new global perspectives and big ideas back to share with the Ridgefield community.

    To our travelers: Look outward. Focus inward. Eyes up. heart open. Listen to learn. Change the world!

    Pura Vida!

  16. Such a fantastic trip! So many memories will be created that will last a lifetime. Love the pictures and can’t wait to see more. Thank you!

  17. Beautiful pictures of all our kiddos! Looking forward to following this blog & hearing all the stories when they get home!
    Thank you so much Roth Family!!❤️

  18. Wow! Thank you for sharing all these photos – what an experience already, and so much more to come!

  19. What amazing & enriching experiences! The pictures are so fun & the country is beautiful. Thank you Roth family for taking this crew on an adventure they will remember forever!
    The McLaughlin Family

  20. What an incredible Day 2! The pura vida spirit emanates from these awesome pictures. Heartfelt thanks to the Roths and to the countless local guides and staff for providing this adventure and taking such good care of our kids.
    – The Mosebrook Family

  21. Loved everything about day three and can’t wait to see more as this incredible adventure contines to unfold. Thank you so much, Roth family, for giving Stella and all the kids this extraordinary opportunity to create unforgettable memories! 💕
    -The Labrosciano Family

  22. The highlight of the day this week is to check this blog to see what other adventure we can read about and look at. Thanks for the updates and photos. So thankful for this experience for our children. Thank you Roth family! 💕

  23. Many thanks to the Roth Family…this is so amazing!! Our kids will remember this trip forever! Thank you again.

  24. I can’t fall asleep until I see the pictures lol. Thank you so much Roth family ♥️

  25. What an amazing experience. I am sure everyone is having an amazing time. Cannot wait to see their next adventure.

  26. Omg! Was Victoria trying to show off her “Robert Lewandowski soccer skills” ? Ha ha ha

  27. This is truly amazing ! I can’t wait until the end of day to read about the good things these kids are doing abd seeing ! Roth Family; Thank you for a lifetime of memories Gitlins

  28. Thank you, Tom for the raft update! I may have under prepared Olivia for the raft adventure! I told her it might not be the fast pace rafting she imagined for safety reasons. I told her not to get her hopes too high. Boy was I wrong!! That looks amazing! Thank you so much for these amazing adventures!

  29. Any update on the waterfall that turned into a flood in Costa Rica? We just saw in the news. Thank you for an update.

  30. Hola Parents! Kiddos are safe and well in San Jose Studio Hotel as we speak. Luckily , we were not affected by the flooding. Enjoying our last night in Costa Rica! New blog post soon to follow. Pura Vida!!

  31. What an adventure, love the videos!! Can’t wait to hug Scottie again and hear all the stories 💕

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