Volunteering hasn’t always been a part of the travel itinerary for BIP volleyball tours. It wasn’t until teams started visiting Nicaragua back in 2007 that we shifted our focus to community service and empowerment in the travel destinations that we visit. It originally started with a habit of bringing down extra suitcases filled with school supplies and sports equipment for local schools. It eventually expanded into a movement to empower marginalized communities by providing access to sports, education, and employment with every volleyball tour we run in Central and South America.
On our Costa Rica volleyball tours visiting teams are planting endangered trees in the rainforest, visiting schools for people with disabilities and hosting youth volleyball clinics for local club teams. In Puerto Rico teams are aiding local NGO’s on the ground with clean-up and rehabilitation from Hurricane Maria. Aside from the volleyball matches, the volunteering has become the most important and meaningful piece of every volleyball team’s travel experience. Here’s a recap of the most impactful trips from 2019.
JJVA Volleyball Club in Puerto Rico
On June 9-15, 2019, CJ Sherman and John Alipio led a mixed club team with players from JJVA (Jacksonville Juniors Volleyball Association), A5 and North Atlanta volleyball clubs to Puerto Rico on one of the most impactful trips we’ve experienced yet. In preparation for the Puerto Rico volleyball tour, the team collected 192 new sports bras in partnership with a non-profit organization called the Sports Bra Project. The team delivered the sports bras to Puerto Rico in an effort to remove barriers to girls’ participation in sports. The team aided in hurricane rehabilitation and clean up along side Programa de Educacion Comunal de Entrega y Servicio (P.E.C.E.S) in Southeastern Puerto Rico, one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Maria. The team also volunteered at a kids camp in the Jardín Botánico de la UPR and distributed coloring books donated by USA volleyball.
Bethel University Volleyball in Costa Rica
On May 25 – June 1, 2019 Bethel University women’s team took an 8 day volleyball tour in Costa Rica with a travel itinerary jam-packed full of community service. Before the team even checked-in to their hotel on the first day, they led a youth clinic and delivered boxes full of jerseys, kneepads, spandex, volleyballs and camp shirts to the very grateful youth volleyball team in Liberia, Costa Rica. After a catching a few waves at Playa Tamarindo, the team made their way to Chichiagua Rainforest near La Fortuna. In response to the terrifying statistic that every minute 150 acres of rainforest gets destroyed on the planet, the Bethel Volleyball team planted a few dozen endangered native species of trees that will continue to grow (hopefully) for the next 600 years! And since the reforestation project is organized by expert farmers and craft chocolate makers, they also got to learn how to make chocolate. However the fun didn’t end in La Fortuna. The climax of the trip was most definitely visiting Casa Hogar, the housing and employment program for adults with disabilities in the village of Naranjo. After touring the garden, recycling center and classrooms, Bethel volleyball joined the students on the dance floor and shared a meal together. The perfect way to wrap up the week in the spirit of Pura Vida!
Iowa State Volleyball in Peru & Argentina
The Iowa State women’s volleyball team went on a 14 day tour through Argentina and Peru from June 1 – 14, 2019. In addition to playing volleyball and sightseeing in spectacular cities such as Buenos Aires, Cuzco and Lima, the team visited Machu Picchu. The team also collected and distributed sports bras with the Sports Bra Project to youth athletes in need. Along the way the team hosted youth volleyball clinics in Lima and Ollantaytambo in an effort to share knowledge and resources while growing the love of the game among aspiring young players in South America.
Ohio State Volleyball in Brazil and Peru
The Ohio State volleyball team traveled through Brazil and Peru from June 8-19, 2019. In Saquarema, Brazil the team hosted a youth volleyball clinic and played matches at the national team training center. In Lima Peru Ohio State played two matches against the youth national team. In between matches the team visited ENEA, an art program for adults with disabilities and hosted a volleyball clinic at Evteka for nearly 100 girls between the ages of 8 and 14 years. After hiking Machu Picchu, Ohio State also hosted a volleyball clinic at the Institution Educativa Técnica Mixta for 100 kids.
University of Kentucky Volleyball in Brazil
The University of Kentucky volleyball team traveled through Brazil from May 24th – June 3rd, 2019. On their trip to Brazil the program wanted to find a way to volunteer and give back to the people of the country, therefore BIP located an elementary school Saquarema, just off the campus of the Brazilian National Training Facility. Pablo, the tour guide, introduced the team to each classroom and followed up our introduction with a quick lesson on how to say “Go Cats”! After touring the school they hosted a volleyball clinic for the older students in the gym. They practiced each skill of the game, broke into groups to pepper, and played games with ~40 kids. After taking pictures, sharing hugs and saying goodbyes, the team left behind volleyballs for the students. Kristen Sanford, Kentucky Volleyball’s Director of Operation, had this to say about her team’s experience in Brazil, “The perspective that this experience brought to the trip played a great impact on our group. We’ll remember this day for years!”