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our philosophy

As you read this, we encourage you to take a moment of introspection. What do you want to get out of life? How do you really want to spend your time? If you had the choice, where in the world would you go? In 20 years from now will you look back and be happy with where you are and what you’re doing right now?

At Sumak Kawsay In Situ the foundation of our practice lies in a philosophy of experiential life formation through a medium of integrative learning and direct engagement with the environment around us. We live in a day and age in which we’re pressured to lead a single-track existence that values late nights behind a desk and hundred dollar textbooks more than camping out and bird watching as the sun rises. Too often we’re so absorbed in our computer screens that we never take the time to truly explore our surroundings in an active manner.

If we as humans are to lead meaningful and impactful lives, we must learn to interact with the world in an active and engaged capacity. We must adopt an appreciation and an understanding for all that the world has to offer, and when we do, everything else follows. So many of us want to have a positive impact on the world, but struggle to figure out how. You must find yourself and then come to understand your place in the world before you can engage it in truly effective and lasting ways. At SKIS we strive to create an environment in which you can discover your purpose in life, and prepare yourself to make a positive impact on the world.

the basics

Come for one week, six months, or however long you’d like - we’re flexible! At Sumak Kawsay In Situ YOU have the opportunity to guide your experience, but we’ll help you along the way. We have over 12 engaging volunteer projects, which range from real scientific studies to the development of sustainable agriculture and construction of research outposts. The projects cover a broad scope of activities, so you’ll gain a variety of practical and theoretical knowledge while also acquiring skills you’ll use for the rest of your life.

At SKIS you’ll become a part of a supportive and fun-loving community. You’ll have the opportunity to learn other languages, sleep beneath the stars, discover unexplored caves, and even develop your own research project!

Volunteers have weekends off and you can travel to surrounding areas. During the week volunteers rotate through projects, sometimes traveling to indigenous communities to learn about ancient cultures, and at other times venturing deep into the jungle to collect rare frog species.

We’ve developed a wide range of projects with the intent of providing you with a variety of experiences that will allow you to develop new understanding and skills, and at the end of the day help you discern how you want to lead your life.

One of the things that makes our volunteer program unique is that within a single project volunteers with varying levels of experience, knowledge, and capabilities are able to function on their own personal level, while still being challenged to learn, improve, and grow. We work in small group sizes of five or less, so project leaders can cater to different learning styles and skill sets. Furthermore, we encourage group members to interact with, learn from, and teach each other. Our projects are team activities- that means everyone brings something to the table and through cooperative collaboration we tackle new tasks, form bigger questions, develop better techniques, and challenge each other to grow!

We retain the right to terminate a volunteer position if the participant:

-Does not satisfy the requirements

-Posses mental/emotional conditions that threaten the wellbeing and safety of staff and other participants

-Assaults a staff member, other volunteer, or wildlife

-Regularly disrupts programming and/or refuses to participate without due cause

-Is found to possess prohibited items or is found taking part in illegal activities



-18+ years of age

-Volunteers MUST speak either Spanish or English, and you must have a basic level of Spanish.

-Volunteers need to be in good physical shape, capable of hiking more than 10km a day, and traversing rocky, challenging terrain.

The following items are strictly prohibited:

-Illegal drugs

-Firearms and fireworks


Scheduling is carried out weekly and in a fluid manner. Project leaders make up the schedules, and week by week we’ll adjust the activity plan based on group interests, weather, data collection requirements, and more. This method of scheduling keeps things fresh, so you’ll never get bored working on one project day after day.

Our programing is very flexible. If you want to plan a longer trip you can work through a few weekends then take a week off to explore distant lands.

We break things down into two morning shifts, two evening shifts, and a night shift, through which any number of permutations can be arranged. Volunteers will work 33 hours (+/- 2 hours) a week. A single shift (quarter day) lasts an hour and 45 minutes, but for more time demanding activities we’ll conjoin periods to make half day shift.

Each week usually consists of 1 or two full days, in which we’ll venture off site to explore a topic more in depth. Depending on the week’s schedule volunteers will get one or two half days off, two to four nights off, and one to three quarter days off in order to rest and/or pursue personal interests.

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