FAQs about our Service Trips
- What is a BLUE Service Trip?
- BLUE provides service trips to high school students, college students, and young professionals. During the service trip you will be taking part in the construction of a water or sanitation project in a rural community within the Dominican Republic.
How long is the trip?
A typical BLUE trip is 8-9 days long. Some custom trips are shorter.
What is a typical work day? (We won't be mentioning times, it's a surprise)
Wake up early, get dressed and meet at the breakfast table. Prior to eating breakfast, our leaders go through a morning meditation. After eating, cleaning up, and filling up all canteens and water bottles, the group heads out to work. Work consists of digging trenches, mixing cement, carrying pipe, gluing pipe, building a latrine house, working to construct the tank, etc. In the early afternoon we take a break for lunch and a siesta. After a quick snooze, we head out to work again for a short period in the afternoon. When the work day is done, we head back to our sleeping headquarters, shower, and get ready for dinner. Some nights we have reunions, we may do a house visit, or just gather around someone's front porch to play dominos and dance bachata.
Who will be leading the trip?
Every trip will have at least two BLUE leaders. Our leaders have been on more than three trips and some have been on up to 16 trips. All leaders go through a Leader Training Program prior to the trip. You will meet your trip leaders at the Trip Preparation Meetings.
Will my trip have chaperones?
On all of our trips, there is a minimum of 4 BLUE staff members in addition to the trip leaders.
Some of our high school trips, CCHS & OLLA Trips do have chaperones. A chaperone is not guaranteed.
If you are interested in being a chaperone, please apply here.
Where in the Dominican Republic will my trip be?
The majority of our communities are in the Cibao region. Your community will be anywhere from Puerto Plata to San Francisco de Macoris. We will give you more information at the Trip Preparation Meetings.
What are the living conditions like? Where do the groups sleep?
All volunteers will be sleeping together. The community provides a school, church, or houses for us to live in. We will be showering out of shower bags where you will have approximately 2.5 gallons to shower with (ladies, don’t worry that is plenty enough water to wash your hair). If it is a co-ed trip, males and females will be separated.
Does the community have electricity?
Some of the communities we work in do not have electricity. Luckily, we don't need electricity to carry out our projects. You will quickly learn that you aren't attached to electricity as much as you think you are.
Does the community have cell reception? Can I use my phone?
The majority of the communities we work in do not have cell reception. Our volunteers are not allowed to have cell phones, if it is seen it will be taken away. Cell phones should not be used for taking pictures, calling/texting home, listening to music, or any social media. This rule is in place to protect all of our volunteers and keep their belongings safe. Our staff and leaders have cell phones that a volunteer can use at any time through out the trip.
Parents, you will be provided with phone numbers and emails to all of our Trip Leaders and Staff on the ground. You can call these numbers at any time. You can also receive updates through out the trip on our Social Media accounts.
How many community service hours do I receive?
All of our volunteers will receive 200 hours of community service, given that they have followed all of the BLUE Missions rules and regulations. All participants and/or parents/guardians (if under 18 years of age) sign our Code of Conduct and acknowledge and understand that violation of any rules and regulations are grounds for immediate removal and return to the United States at the participants expense. Possible further actions, including but not limited to nullification of any community service hours and letters of recommendation.
How can a group of volunteers build an entire water or sanitation project?
The group doesn't do it alone. Our Dominican staff members (made up of engineers, project managers, handy men, and water works) lead the construction of the projects. The community and it's members do the majority of the work. That's not to say that our volunteers do not work. You will do anything from mixing concrete and carrying and gluing pipes to hammering together the house of a latrine or digging a trench. Our volunteers will work in every aspect of the project so that they will understand it better.
How did you find your staff members?
More than half of our staff comes directly from communities that we have worked in. They are very driven to continue to bring clean water and sanitation to more and more communities through out the Dominican Republic.
Do I need any vaccinations or immunizations?
We recommend you ask your pediatrician or doctor if you need any specific vaccinations or boosters. You can also check online with the CDC guidelines for the Dominican Republic. If you have further questions, you may contact our partner, Dr. Kunjana Mavunda at International Travel Clinic.
Is the chikungunya virus still prevalent?
The CDC has reported the virus as a Level 1. It is not as common any more as it was during the outbreak, yet a small amount of cases do get reported. Pack plenty of mosquito repellent and apply at least twice a day. We had over 100 volunteers last summer and did not have any one in our group contract the virus. If we find that mosquitoes are prevalent in a community, we will fumigate the areas we will be staying and spending the majority of our time in.
We are taking extra precautions against mosquito transmitted viruses. All of our communities will be fumigated prior to the groups arrival. We recommend all of our participants bring mosquito repellent with Deet or Picaridin, mosquito nets for above their beds, and long sleeve clothing.
What if there is a medical emergency?
For every trip, we have outlined an emergency plan where our employees and trip leaders know exactly where the closest 24 hour clinic is, as well as the nearest state of the art hospital with specialty doctors.
Every participant receives international travel insurance that will cover any medical expenses while on their trip.
Our employees, leaders, chaperones, and interns have all taken and are certified in First Aid and CPR. They have been trained to treat any participant for the common cold, flu, cut, injury, etc. We also have a doctor on-call in Miami who they will contact for medical advice.
Is there a dress code?
We ask that you dress modestly, especially females. Please no short shorts. Pants are recommended, especially to help with the mosquitos.
What if I get homesick or want to leave?
If you no longer wish to continue the trip, you do have the option of leaving but you will have to pay for the flight back home. We have had a few students get homesick at the beginning of the trip, decided to stay, and said it was the best decision they ever made.
How much does it cost to participate on a BLUE service trip?
The trip cost depends on the trip you are applying for. Read the application for more information.
What does the trip cost cover?
The cost of your trip is essentially all-inclusive, meaning it covers the cost of your flight from Miami, FL to the Dominican Republic, food & clean water, housing, activities, in country transportation, travel insurance, BLUE staff, and other program related expenses. However, there may be some unexpected costs on the volunteer if he/she breaks any rules and has to be sent home.
How much money should I take on my trip?
You should not need more than $60 while on your service trip. When you arrive at the airport in the Dominican Republic, you will need to pay $10 cash for your tourist visa. You may also be responsible for covering the cost of any checked baggage fee by the airline.
What is the trip cancellation policy?
All payments made to BLUE Missions are non-refundable. If you cancel your service trip after the purchasing of flights, you will not be refunded the full payment. BLUE Missions will give the participant canceling, an American Airlines flight voucher that may be used for another American Airlines flight within one year of ticketing date. (Additional fees are charged via American Airlines for a flight change)
If for whatever reason you need to cancel your trip. Please notify us immediately. We apologize in advance for any inconveniences.
Is my trip payment tax-deductible?
Unfortunately, full trip payments are not tax-deductible. As per the IRS website:
"If you receive a benefit because of your contribution such as merchandise, or other goods and services, then you can deduct only the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit received."
If you would like a receipt for tax purposes, please email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Women's Day?
On Women's Day, all of the women and young ladies of the community gather together to take part in a motivational and empowerment workshop led by one of our Dominican staff members. During this workshop we focus on 5 Core Topics: I am Woman, I am Campesina, I have Value, I am Important, and I can Learn. At the end of the workshop, during "I can Learn" we teach the women all about WASH education and we also teach them a trade (such as making bracelets).
What is Kid's Day?
On Kid's Day, everyone in the community gathers together for an afternoon full of fun. Our volunteers put on a magic show, they also sing and dance. Coloring books get passed out to everyone in the community. Our volunteers spend this time coloring with anyone from 2 years old to 92 years old. At the end of the afternoon, candy is distributed to everyone in attendance.
What do we do on beach day?
Beach day is towards the end of the trip when the project is close to completion. We take a morning off and drive to the beach. Almost always, we go to Playa Caletón in Rio San Juan. After swimming in the cool water and eating a delicious lunch in the sand, we head back to the community and continue working.
Do we have free time?
You will have free time on certain afternoons or nights. If you wish to go exploring you can’t leave without a trip leader.
What will we be eating?
BLUE provides a light breakfast (crackers & jelly, milk, and coffee) and a hearty lunch and dinner. We ask that you bring what you normally eat for breakfast – cereal, bars, etc. Lunch and dinner is typically rice, beans, plantains, yuca, vegetables and fruits from the country.
Our meals are for the most part, vegetarian and gluten free.
If you have any dietary restrictions or allergies, please notify our Program Director or your trip leader at the Trip Preparation meetings.
What water do we drink?
You will only drink the water that we provide for you. We provide 5-gallon jugs of water for our group to consume. You can drink as much water as you’d like. You may bring powdered drinks to mix into the water we provide.
Can we eat anything that is offered to us?
The community members will offer you a variety of fruits and vegetables. You may take them and eat them if you are sure you are not allergic to it. If you have any doubts, do not eat it. They will also offer you beverages, do not consume the drink if it has ice in it or was made from their water as it could cause you to have stomach problems.
What are Trip Preparation Meetings?
BLUE holds 3 mandatory Trip Preparation Meetings prior to the start of the trip. These meetings will be held sometime from February to May. You will be notified of these dates.
If you are not located in the South Florida area, you will be invited to watch an online webinars or video presentation. You can also schedule a Skype video session to meet our employees and trip leaders face to face.
How heavy can my duffle bag be?
- American Airlines has changed their baggage policy when flying to the Dominican Republic. If you are checking in a bag, you will have to pay $25 out of pocket each way. BLUE Missions will not cover this fee. The checked bag must be under 50 lbs. Every participant is responsible for paying the extra fee if their bag is overweight.
- You are allowed to bring one carry-on duffle bag and a personal item (book bag).
- Shouldn’t exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches / 56 x 36 x 23 centimeters.
- Allowed items in carry-on baggage:
- Batteries (AAA, AA, C & D)
- You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. Placing these items in the small bag and separating from your carry-on baggage facilitates the screening process. Pack items that are in containers larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in checked baggage.
- Insect Repellent - must not be in an aerosol can & meets liquid restrictions.
- Try wearing your heaviest clothing (boots, workpants) to the airport.
How many bags can I bring?
We recommend packing all of your items in a carry-on baggage and a personal item. If you are checking in a bag, you will be responsible to pay the baggage fee.
Do I need to buy a cot?
You do not need to buy a cot. BLUE Missions will provide one for you.
What do I wear to the airport?
You will be receiving a BLUE shirt on the last Trip Preparation Meeting prior to your trip. You will wear the shirt to the airport. Please wear the BLUE shirt as it allows our trip leaders to recognize that you are apart of the group. If you are an out of town participant, you will receive your shirt at the airport.