Under
18

Sea Turtle and Marine Conservation Teen Volunteering in Greece

Contribute to the conservation of turtles on our teen volunteer project in Kefalonia, Greece.

GVI Hub: a home-from-home
Durations: 2 weeks
Free parent consultation

Program information

Ready for an incredible Greek adventure? On our sea turtle and marine conservation program for teens, you’ll play a vital role in conserving the loggerhead turtles nesting on the white sand beaches of Kefalonia, as well as the endangered green turtles that gracefully roam these waters. Capture nesting activity and provide protection to hatchlings as they embark on their first journey to the ocean (seasonal, not guaranteed). You’ll also participate in monitoring and surveying the diverse seagrass meadows, which serve as a vital habitat for an array of species, including sea turtles, monk seals (among the rarest and most endangered marine mammals), and various types of fish. Get ready to make a difference in this stunning corner of the world!

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Overview
Dates & Prices
Itinerary
What's Included
Life On Base
Cultural Immersion
Speak to alumni
Arrivals
Flights
Your Impact
Our Ethics
Program ethics
Qualifications & Training Options
Parent Info
Support & Safety

Program overview

Based in the beautiful town of Argostoli, Kefalonia – the largest of the Ionian Islands – you’ll contribute to the protection of loggerhead turtle nesting areas and green turtle foraging areas in Greece. Working in collaboration with local partner organisations on the ground, our role involves assisting with monitoring and protection initiatives for the loggerhead sea turtles and green turtles of Kefalonia.

You’ll have the opportunity to actively contribute to the preservation of turtle habitats, including monitoring the behaviour of adult sea turtles, assessing injuries, protecting turtle nests and ensuring the safe passage of hatchlings to the water if necessary. You’ll also have the opportunity to share your passion for conservation with fellow international visitors and local community members, spreading the love for these incredible animals far and wide. 

We’ll provide you with all the necessary training to make a meaningful impact and achieve the project’s objectives. And when you’re not busy with conservation efforts, explore the breathtaking sights of the surrounding area.

GVI has successfully been operating ethical and responsible programs for under 18s since 2012. Treating health and safety as a number one priority, GVI takes extra measures for its under 18 programs. As such, it is also a British Standards 8848 compliant provider. This project has been specially designed for those between 15 and 17 years who are looking to volunteer. Throughout the project, volunteers receive guidance and training from leaders who are experts in their field. These leaders have been carefully selected for their extensive experience and their exceptional ability to mentor and inspire young adults.

Highlights

  • Get involved with practical work to protect one of the endangered species in the Mediterranean.
  • Take your first steps towards your career in conservation and make a lasting contribution to the preservation of endangered turtles.
  • Experience Greek culture first-hand in the beautiful Argostoli area.
  • Meet like-minded young adults and create friendships that last a lifetime.

Successfully complete this program and get a professional reference from your program manager. By opting to complete our comprehensive online leadership course, valued at £295, you’ll have the opportunity to earn a certificate endorsed by the University of Richmond.

Program details

Dates and prices

Select a start date:

Nature, my happy place.

See new locations, habitats & species with up to 15% off on selected programs.

Special offer valid only until 29 February.
Payment plans. Flexible payment plans allow you to pay in instalments.

What happens next?

Once you apply, a personal Enrollment Manager will be assigned to walk you through the rest of the process.

Itinerary

The following itinerary is an example of the activities and project work that participants might get involved in on this program. More specific details of the program are finalised several months before each start date.

Day 1

Get ready to soak up the sun in Greece! A GVI staff member will meet you at the airport and travel with you to your overnight accommodation.

Day 2

Get comfy at our base and meet your fellow team members from around the world. Gear up for an exciting adventure together!

Day 3

Explore Kefalonia's must-see spots on a hike: visit ancient walls, cool caves, donkey paths, tombs, and even a WW2 base.

Day 4

Dive into sea turtle surveys with your snorkel and the eOceans app. You’ll make a positive conservation impact while exploring marine life.

Day 5

Get trained to protect important loggerhead and green turtle habitats in Greece. Then hop on a kayak and explore Kefalonia's breathtaking landscapes.

Day 6

Ready for some beach action? Join a nesting beach survey, nest checks and beach clean. After a break, conduct a snorkel survey to monitor the seagrass.

Day 7

Snorkel surveys continue: test your skills and try different roles! Later, relax, grab an ice cream and join an evening coastal cleanup.

Day 8

Kick off with beach patrols, finding turtle nests and lending a helping hand if needed. Then join a beach cleanup and continue with snorkel surveys.

Day 9

Epic day of sea turtle research and protection. Track adults during a harbour survey and explore underwater with a snorkel survey. Let's go!

Day 10

Wrap up your snorkel surveys and learn about climate change. Summarise the project and how you've contributed to sea turtle and wildlife conservation.

Day 11

Adventure time: Explore caves, visit Melissani Lake, swim in an underground lake and visit a ghost village deserted after the 1953 earthquake.

Day 12

Experience the thrill of coasteering – combining hiking, scrambling and sea jumps. Then explore the town and shop for souvenirs at the market.

Day 13

Relax on the beach and reminisce about your adventures and conservation journey. End the day with a farewell dinner, bonding with your new friends.

Day 14

Departure day. Reflect on the connections you’ve made. Then GVI staff will transfer you back to the airport. Safe travels!

What’s included?

What's included
General
Food
Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)
Airport pick up (unless stated)
All project equipment
24-hour in-country support from local staff
24-hour emergency desk
Activities
Sustainable project work
Data collection and research
DofE Residential activity provider
Pre-program training
Pre-departure webinar
Pre-departure training (online)
University of Richmond endorsed leadership course
Welcome training
GVI welcome presentation
Health & safety
Local culture & environment
UN SDGs
Impact & ethics
Child protection
Career services
PDF reference
Certificates
Program certificate
University certificate – specialisation (University of Richmond)
PVSA certificate
What's excluded
Not included
Flights
International and domestic airport taxes
Medical and travel insurance
Visa costs
Police or background check
Personal items and toiletries
Additional drinks and gratuities

Life On Base

Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands in Greece. Wake up to breathtaking views from our base in Argostoli, which is a five-minute walk from the beach. Mornings are spent finding turtle nests and hatchlings, surveying sea grass or monitoring turtles behaviour and health from the harbour. Afternoons include beach cleanups and snorkel surveys. Your evenings might involve nest checks, excavations, creating shading for hatchlings. Between your survey shifts, you’ll have plenty of time to soak up the sun on the sandy white beaches on your doorstep, or relax with your fellow teammates back at the campsite. The climate is hot and can get humid, but living so close to the beach, you’ll be able to cool down with a quick dip in the sea. End the day watching the sunset over the Mediterranean.

Accommodation

The accommodation is in tents located in a section of campsite – allowing you to enjoy Greece’s coastal beauty from the campsite’s beach, while k...

Transportation

We provide transfers from the airport to the accommodation in Argostoli, which is about a 30-minute drive. The beach is a 5-minute walk from the ...

Communication

You’ll have limited access to long-distance communications whilst on the program, so make sure your friends and family know how often they can ex...

Meals

Breakfast is a mixture of foods such as cereal, toast, fresh fruit and tea/coffee on offer. Lunch is eaten either at the campsite restaurant or a...

Climate

Greece gets very hot during the summer months of June to August (sometimes reaching up to 40ºC!), so make sure to bring your bathing suit. The se...

Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches global awareness, adaptability and critical thinking – skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and will also be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many different activities that you can get involved in during your free time, or before and after your program.

On our community programs, the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore topics like local cuisine and religion, or how sustainable development challenges are affecting local contexts.

Spirituality and religion

While Greece is a secular state, the majority of the population identify with the Greek Orthodox Church faith.

...

Local handcrafts

Greece has a thriving tourist souvenir industry, and sells many locally made souvenirs such as hand woven carpets and rugs, beautifully decorated jewellery, and leather items. G...

Cooking and dancing

A large part of Greek cuisine features fresh Mediterranean ingredients, often featuring staples such as pita bread, olive oil, and feta cheese. Some of the traditional dishes Gr...

Festivals

The Greek people’s most notable holiday is the celebration of Greek Independence Day on the 25th of March. There are also many festivals throughout the year, such as the Patras ...

Languages

Greek is the official language of Greece and spoken by the vast majority of the population. Other languages spoken in the country are Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, Arumanian an...

Speak to alumni

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Get a first-hand perspective

Meet us

Arrivals

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.

As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals.

We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile.

This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to be an active global citizen after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

In collaboration with Wildlife Sense, our project work focuses on conserving loggerhead and green sea turtles and their habitats along the coast of Greece. 

We undertake a variety of activities, including conducting harbour surveys and bird surveys, as well as learning to identify marine species. We also engage in coastal vegetation maintenance and restoration, utilise drones to explore seagrass and mega fauna foraging sites, and participate in beach profile and cleanup activities. Additionally, we use drones for sea turtle photo-ID at foraging sites and conduct mountain surveys.

We assist in the conservation of endangered sea turtles and directly contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as Goal 13: Climate Action, Goal 14: Life Below Water and Goal 15: Life On Land.

Project objectives

 

GVI Skala Kefalonia’s long-term Objectives:

1. Document nesting activities for a loggerhead nesting site in the Mediterranean. This can provide evidence of the importance of continued protection of this endangered species and its ecosystem.

2. Carry out seagrass surveys to monitor green turtle foraging areas in the Mediterranean. This too can provide evidence of the importance of continued protection of this endangered species and its ecosystem.

3. Contribute to the efforts of our local partner to protect marine animals in Kefalonia.

4. Reduce the amount of plastic pollution in the turtles’ nesting area.

5. Educate participants on environmentally sustainable practices and the importance and impact of climate change.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.

 

We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.

Our 10 ethical commitments

01

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.

02

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.

03

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.

04

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.

05

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.

06

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that every participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.

07

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.

08

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.

09

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.

10

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.

Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.

However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.

Program ethics

No orphanage programs

We don’t support or allow participants to work in institutional residential care facilities, also known as orphanages. We partner with ReThink Orphanages and Freedom United.

Learn more
Child and vulnerable adult protection policy

Our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy requires all our staff and participants to complete a criminal background check and to learn why you shouldn’t reveal a child’s identifying factors in photographs. We support the ChildSafe Movement.

Learn more
No medical volunteering

We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.

Learn more
No disability support programs

We don’t offer any programs where our participants work directly with people with disabilities. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country.

Learn more
Aligned to local objectives

Each one of our initiatives is aligned to objectives set by a local organisation or professional. Our staff and participants work to support these local actors in achieving their specific goals.

Local employees remain employed

Our participants don’t replace the staff employed by local organisations. Rather, they support currently employed staff with achieving their objectives. Our goal is always to increase local capacity to address local problems.

Local employees remain focused

Participants require training and support to ensure that they carry out tasks correctly. Our staff provide this training and support so that local staff can focus on what is truly important to their organisation at the time.

No entertainment-based activities

We don’t support the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. This includes riding animals, having them perform tricks, feeding or bathing them or getting close to them to take photos

No orphaned animal sanctuaries

We don’t encourage, support or allow the rearing of “orphaned” wild baby animals kept at a “sanctuary”. The conservation value of these types of programs is negligent and would only ethically be used in extremely rare cases

Guidelines for touching or movement restriction

When wild animals are restricted for conservation purposes we follow the guidelines of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Animal welfare guidelines

We ensure that the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are followed. These include the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from distress, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear, pain, injury or disease.

Local community empowerment

We ensure that conservation efforts are also always locally led, that community needs are front-and centre of any conservation effort and that our participants, projects and partners work to increase local community engagement in local conservation efforts.

Learn more
No veterinary programs

We don’t offer any veterinary programs or animal rescue and rehabilitation programs. We don’t allow participants to do any work they would not be able to do in their home country.

Learn more

Training

A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.

For all GVI participants

Orientation: Travelling Responsibly and Ethically

Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.

Orientation: UN Sustainable Development Goals

Introduction to the history and evolution of sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and how these related to your project work.

Orientation: Further Opportunities for Impact

Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.

For all participants at Argostoli, Kefalonia

Marine Conservation: Seagrass

Learn about what seagrass is, its importance, how it is formed, and how this ecosystem works.

Conservation: survey techniques and logistics

An introduction to different survey techniques and best practice guidelines for surveys; introduction to different types of data and how to record information via a datasheet.

Conservation: biodiversity & target species identification

Learn about biodiversity and how biodiversity is measured, and classifying different species and how to identify species that indicate the health of the habitat.

Marine conservation: pollution and plastics

Learn about issues with plastic and measures that can be taken to help reduce plastic consumption.

Research Training

Learn how to conduct research, such as monitoring the beach for turtle tracks and nests, and where to find the egg chamber. You will also learn how to put measures in place to protect nests and capture data, such as the number of nests on the beach.

Monitoring Induction

Monitoring Induction training from our local partner, that has been conducting conservation research in this area since 2012.

Certificates & qualifications

GVI Online Leading Teams for Impact course (optional)

Leadership is a critical skill set for anyone looking to make an impact or drive sustainable development. Develop your own leadership style and learn how to set achievable objectives, give effective feedback and manage conflict successfully. After successfully completing the course, which you have the option of doing prior to your in-country program, you’ll receive a certificate from the University of Richmond.

This online course, valued at £295, is included in all volunteering programs. Full course details can be found here.

Duke of Edinburgh Award

Young British nationals looking to earn their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and improve their employability can use GVI’s teen programs to complete several of the required components like volunteering, physical fitness, skills-development, completing an expedition, and learning how to thrive in a residential context. The Duke of Edinburgh Award can be used to enhance your personal statement on your UCAS application.

Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

GVI is a proud member of the Gap Year Association.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.

Safety

View support and safety protocols

Support

View risk mitigation

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