A Gap Year is a Year … ON!

Watch an informational webinar with Program Director Zach Eigenbrodt:

Are you concerned about time off from college or work?

The good news is our comprehensive Gap Program ensures participants’ time is spent “on”! The traditional path of graduating high school and attending college for four years simply isn’t for everyone.

Here are some important reasons to take a Gap Year:

  • Some young people want to first work on gaining independence and a broader worldview before combining their first time being on their own with all the pressures of academic college life.
  • Others have already graduated college, but perhaps commuted to school, and they want to have an away-from-home experience to supplement academic education so they are fully prepared to head into the workforce.
  • More and more, we are living in a globally connected world. Many gap participants want to gain experience in other countries and cultures to have a competitive edge in our increasingly global workforce.
  • And many simply need to hit “pause” on college life and re-assess goals and direction before continuing with school.

Here are some stats from the American Gap Association about the benefits of taking a Gap Year:

  • 90% of gap year students return to college the following year
  • On average, American college students take 6 years to complete their undergraduate degree. Gap year students have a median graduation time of 3.75 years.
  • 62% of gap year students surveyed had a high school GPA of 3.7 or higher
  • Gap year students overwhelmingly report job satisfaction post-college.

Regardless of a person’s own reasons are for considering a year “on,” it’s important to feel secure in what awaits you when your gap year is over. High school seniors can still apply to college! Upon acceptance, high schoolers should contact the university’s admissions office and request a deferral for a semester. Many universities happily comply and may request a statement or short paper about the experiences during gap time. Colleges and universities are more and more eager to accept students who have experienced more of the world and they welcome students who will bring their broadened sense of the world into the lecture hall. Contact the school that you plan to attend for their policy on gap time.

What to expect:

Participants can expect to be fully immersed in Colombian cultures and communities for about three months. They will provide support as well as receive invaluable knowledge and a broadened worldview. Frost Valley YMCA’s Gap Program is not a vacation! This program is designed so that participants contribute their time and talent toward supporting the goals and needs of our partners, YMCA Colombia, as well as the Colombian communities they will support. Of course – participants should expect to enjoy their time, too! Weekends are reserved so that participants can be immersed in Colombian culture, cuisine, and history throughout their experience.

The Cost and What it Includes:

The Frost Valley Colombia Gap Program costs $6,000. However, we encourage participants to take advantage of third-party Gap Program grants and we also offer financial aid for those who qualify. This fee covers everything required to experience the program fully. We suggest bringing spending money for souvenirs and personal purchases, but the fee includes:

  • Airfare to and from Colombia
  • All transportation and travel while in Colombia
  • 3 meals a day
  • All Accommodations
  • Comprehensive orientation including safety protocol, emergency procedures, team building, goals and expectations, and an introduction to Colombian culture and norms
  • 24/7 Emergency support
  • Academic activities
  • Social Activities
  • Cultural Activities
  • Touristic Activities
  • T-shirt and Nalgene water bottle

What is not included in the program fee:

  • Transportation to Frost Valley for orientation
  • Transportation from JFK airport in NY to your home at the end of the program
  • Spending money for souvenirs and personal purchases

Length of Program:

Our program is a little over three months, from early September to mid-December. The benefit of participating in our Gap Semester program is that for about three months you are fully immersed in Colombian cultures and communities; however, if you’re taking a full gap year, participants still have another six months to explore other locations and programs of interest to them before returning to school or the workforce.

About the Program:

Frost Valley YMCA is partnering with YMCA Colombia to offer gap semester program in Colombia. This uniquely immersive experience provides participants with the opportunity to contribute three areas of support in several communities throughout Colombia:

  1. Youth Education – work with Colombian school children
  2. Community Development – provide hands-on support to help communities thrive
  3. Sustainable Agriculture – be a steward of the earth to foster a greener tomorrow

View the full itinerary

The Places Our Gappers Go!

Another unique feature of this program is that you will be moving throughout the nation of Colombia to experience various cultures and to provide different levels of support. The cities in Colombia included in this program are:

  • Villavicencio Meta
  • Bogota
  • Ibague
  • Santandercito
  • Cundinamarca

To be eligible, participants must:

  • Be between the ages 18 and 22
  • Will have graduated from high school by the program’s start date or can provide official documentation from their high school stating that they have fulfilled all graduation requirements
  • Possess the ability to communicate effectively and openly with program staff and fellow participants.
  • Can manage personal health and wellbeing, including medication, allergies, hydration, and mental health
  • Independently mitigate risk by assessing surroundings, identifying hazards, and acting appropriately to avoid danger.
  • Exercise tolerance and respect toward all people regardless of varying cultures, religions, ethnicities, genders and nationalities.
  • Embrace Frost Valley YMCA’s eight core values of Caring, Community, Diversity, Honesty, Inclusiveness, Respect, Responsibility and Stewardship

Are there risks to visiting Colombia?

Yes, certain risks do exist. For a Gap Year to be optimally beneficial to both the participants and the communities involved, traveling outside of traditional comfort zones is required. That being said, since the end of its civil war, Colombian political and civil unrest have measurably declined and the country is increasingly known as a destination for its beautiful landscapes and welcoming communities. The peace process has resulted in many positive outcomes for Colombia. However, risks do still exist, the most common being petty crime and pickpocketing. As of June 16, 2017, Colombia is under a travel warning from the U.S. government. Frost Valley YMCA, as well as YMCA Colombia, hold safety in the highest regard and will partner with participants to take proactive steps to reduce risks and hazards. All participants will receive a comprehensive training on guidelines and rules for minimizing risk. The group will stay in designated areas in each city they visit and when visiting vulnerable populations at YMCA sites, they will always be accompanied by YMCA staff. Our orientation will cover safety and precautions in detail, but here are some general guidelines.

 Tips to prevent risk while in Colombia:

  • Never travel alone or leave your group
  • Don’t flash jewelry, money or valuables
  • Use legal and trusted taxis and buses when traveling
  • Safeguard valuables
  • Learn and be aware of Colombia’s culture and what is acceptable

If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 845-985-2291 ext. 265.

Or contact Zach for more information.

Phone: 845-985-2291 ext. 265

Email: zeigenbrodt@frostvalley.org