Guest Writer

JUMPSTART: Innovative English Camp to Benefit Quepos Students

By Katherine Stanley Obando, Academic Director, JumpStart Costa Rica
[email protected]

Jumpstart team & studentsSome students and teachers relish the year-end vacations as a time to kick back and relax – but not the participants in the upcoming JumpStart English Camp, to be held from January 5-30, 2015 in La Inmaculada de Quepos. Twenty students, led by U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer Ramona Dowdell and local Ministry of Public Education (MEP) teacher Isabel Guillén, will spend the month practicing English and preparing for the crucial transition to high school, a difficult time for many Costa Rican teenagers. The camp will rely entirely on donations and sponsorships to cover its costs, and the program is seeking support in the Quepos area to make this year’s camp a reality.

Jumpstart logo

JumpStart Costa Rica, an initiative of the nonprofit Costa Rica Multilingüe Foundation, is a national program that offers free, intensive English camps for incoming seventh-graders across the country. The program began in 2012 to address unequal access to English classes in a country where 45% of primary schools lack an English teacher. However, the project has also expanded to include intensive teacher training for MEP staff, general high-school preparation for students from a variety of backgrounds, and a school-year component now being piloted in San José.

Jumpstart activitiesIn 2013, JumpStart implemented its first camp for at-risk youth in La Inmaculada. In 2015, the program will be work with two schools: La Inmaculada and El Estadio. The camp will be held at El Estadio, which is celebrating the one-year anniversary of their expansion from a dilapidated one-room school building to a newly built facility with various classrooms.

“These young learners are at a pivotal crossroads between dropping out of school or seeing the benefits that high-school education could bring to their future as successful working adults. La Inmaculada is a community that wants and needs opportunities like JumpStart Costa Rica for its youth,” said Dowdell. “Parents, teachers, and community members are highly motivated to offer these young learners a chance to enjoy learning a language and give them a chance at a better life with a little outside support.”

JumpStart receives donations to fund the camps at various levels, from $4,000 for a full-camp sponsorship, to $200 to sponsor a single student for the month, to individual donations of any size. Donations can be made by bank deposit, check (Costa Rica or U.S.), or online; online donations are tax-deductible in the United States thanks to JumpStart’s partnership with the Washington, D.C.-based Amigos of Costa Rica Foundation.

For more information on the program or to make a donation, visit or contact the author, JumpStart Academic Director Katherine Stanley Obando, at [email protected] or 8851-0704.