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Youth Humanitarian Leadership Week

January 18-25  Panajachel, Guatemala

Sign up for a week-long experience that will change your life!

If you’re 15 to 18 years old (or know someone who is) and looking for your next meaningful adventure, check out what a week in Guatemala can do for you!

Led by Greg and Lucy Jensen and 

Melanie and Casey McFarland 

in conjunction with Cultiva International 

$1495/person not including airfare

Includes food, lodging, ground transportation, leadership training,

humanitarian work and a lot of fun.

We have spots for 16 youth ages 15-18 and 2 adults supervisors.

Non-refundable deposit of $300 is required to save your spot. 

Reserve your spot today!


Panajachel is a beautiful and safe place to give your child a new perspective on life!

Every day will be packed with meaning, adventure, food, service, community and leadership workshops.

Experience the colorful culture of Guatemala! 


-Dive into Lake Atitlan from a 30' platform

-Learn how Mayan women naturally dye cotton and weave intricate textiles

-Zipline through a pristine nature reserve (with the chance to see monkeys!)

-See how local chocolate is made from cacao beans

-Visit the market and learn some lifelong cooking techniques using local produce

Learn from some amazing mentors!

What you will learn from Greg:

  • Defining poverty (it’s probably not what you thought)

  • How to help those in poverty without doing harm

  • How to lead humanitarian efforts that really make a difference

  • Design a vision for life

  • Improve communication and interpersonal skills

  • Develop real-life leadership skills

  • Increase self-confidence and overcome fears

What you will learn from Melanie:

  • Optional one on one session to work through any garbage we tell ourselves (can take place prior to this week)

  • How to help yourself set boundaries

  • How to stand in your own power

  • How to find power within yourself

  • How to learn gratitude


Melanie graduated from the Institute of Healing Arts and has worked one on one with clients for the past decade helping them to discard limiting beliefs that hurt relationships, mask our best selves and wreak havoc in many areas of our lives. This is an optional session but highly recommended. She is happy to talk with any parents about this but an example is our daughter at age 14 became moody, angry and withdrawn. We didn't know why she was angry at us and she didn't either until she went through a couple sessions. The results will not always be this drastic but for our daughter she transformed into an entirely new individual. This is not therapy but it does involve revisiting experiences from the past that might be dictating the present ineffectively. It can be very helpful for kids in this age group.

Melanie and Casey have both studied and made a practice out of understanding and dealing with negative self talk and limiting beliefs we all have. Casey graduated from the Foundation of Mindful Living and together we will hold a discussion with the youth of this group about that annoying roommate in our heads that tells us we aren't good enough or any number of stories. We will discuss how these stories begin and why they are not true. We will begin each day with some meditation and discuss various ways of managing and limiting negative self talk. 

What you will learn from Casey:


  • How to take better pictures for the rest of your life.

  • How to get the creative juices flowing.

  • The importance of art and creativity in a healthy life.

  • Basic cooking skills

  • How to cook three different ethnic dishes using the same ingredients from the amazing market in Panajachel. 

  • Eat what we cook.

Casey has been a professional photographer over the last 20 years. He has photographed in half the United States and dozens of countries around the world. He graduated from the Foundation of Mindful Living with extensive experience in mediation.  He owns a company that takes groups to Italy and has a deep well of knowledge of the cuisine in that area. Food is a big part of life in our home. Nothing brings people together like food. 

Combined Leadership Course:

Reserve your spot today!


What does the week look like?

Saturday: Travel to Guatemala
Sunday: Team activities. Humanitarian leadership workshops.
Monday: Build and install garden boxes with Cultiva International
Tuesday: Explore Lake Atitlan. Leadership workshop.
Wednesday: Build and install garden boxes with Cultiva International
Thursday: Cultural tour in San Juan La Laguna. Leadership workshop.
Friday: Hiking and zip-lining at the Atitlan Nature Reserve; souvenir shopping; evening celebration
Saturday: Travel home

What Others Are Saying

"I had the opportunity to go to Leadership Week and it was truly an amazing experience! It changed my life and blessed so many other people’s! If you are looking for an amazing experience, adventure and help to become a more powerful person I highly recommend going! Check it out! It will change your life!" -Kaysen

"Thank you sooooooooooo much for providing my daughter with such an amazing experience. She came home just glowing, full of love and life! She now possesses greater self confidence and love for herself. She said it was the trip of a lifetime! She loved the folks and the work of Cultiva. She can’t wait to come back! So please keep us informed of your goings on! Many thanks to you and the wonderful work that you do!- Melinda

Is the trip safe?

We take this very seriously and recognize this is a big question for many participants. We have taken all precautions to make this trip safe of our participants. Greg Jensen lives full time in Guatemala with his wife and five children. He has been bringing groups of families and youth to Guatemala for over five years. Participants stay in safe hotels, including the volunteer housing for Cultiva International. All transportation is private and with responsible drivers. Participants are always in groups and accompanied by adult leaders.

Who can participate?

Participants must be ages 15-18 when the week begins. We are also reserving two spots for two Parent Mentors to participate. Parent Mentors are parents of participants. We may make an exception for a participant under 16 years old, if they have an older sibling registered for the same week.

How many spots are available?

We have 16 spots available for youth and 2 spots (1 male, 1 female) available for Parent Mentors.

Will there be adult chaperones?

Yes. We have 16 spots for youth, 3 spots for Parent Mentors, plus Greg and Lucy Jensen. We will maintain a ratio of 1 adult to 4 youth.

Can parents come?

Yes. We reserve 2 spots (1 male, 1 female) for Parent Mentors. They must be parents of participants.

Do I need to get vaccinations?

No vaccinations are required to enter Guatemala. Talk to your family physician for any specific questions about vaccinations.

What if I get sick?

If someone were to get sick or injured, we have direct local access to doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, etc. The travel medical insurance, which we include in the cost of the trip would cover any cost incurred.

Do I need insurance?

We include medical travel insurance in the cost of the trip. This covers any emergency medical or dental expenses, as well as emergency evacuation or repatriation.

What is the lodging like?

Lodging for participants is in Casa Cultiva’s volunteer housing. Casa Cultiva is private and secure and it is not open to the public. All rooms have three beds and a full bathroom with hot water. Three participants of the same gender will share a room. Depending on flight times, there may be a need to overnight in Guatemala City. We use a safe, secure trusted motel near the airport. All participants would be accompanied by the adult leaders.

What is the food like?

Breakfasts are provided by Casa Cultiva and include things like Guatemalan beans and eggs or pancakes and fruit. Lunches and dinners are either dine in at Casa Cultiva, at a local restaurant, or provided in the field on service days. All food is washed and prepared using modern practices. The food is delicious and healthy. We do not serve a lot of processed food. We will make sure you have plenty of food. We will also provide safe drinking water at all times.

What will we do for service projects?

Cultiva International teaches self-reliance principles to local Mayan families. They teach a ten-hour nutrition and garden box program where Guatemalans can work and earn their own garden box. We will be working with these families to help them install and plant their new garden box they have earned. We will be with these families at their homes, and get a unique and personal view into how they live.

What is the in-country transportation?

All in-country ground transportation is in private, modern vans with trusted, professional drivers. This includes rides to and from Guatemala City, as well as transportation on service days.

Is this a rehabilitation camp?

No. This is not a rehabilitation trip. We are learning and experiencing important and serious things. This is not a week for troubled teens. We expect participants to understand why they are here and what they want to learn.

Is this a tourism trip?

No. This is not a sightseeing trip. We will see and experience many amazing things and have some awesome adventures, but this week is more than that. We will learn about ourselves, about effective humanitarian work, and be directly involved in hands-on service.

Are the trips coed?

Yes. We accept male and female participants. Housing will be assigned by gender and there will be no sharing rooms or entering rooms of the opposite sex. Dating or pairing off is not allowed.

What are the rules and standards during the week?

This is a week for learning, growth, and exploration. We want to maintain a safe environment and have trust among the group. There will be absolutely no bad language, no making fun of others in the group or others, no romantic affections. Any bad behavior will be addressed immediately.

Is this leadership week associated with a religion?

No, this is not a religion week. We are teaching about service, leadership, and personal development. These things can be religious in nature, but we do not have an agenda based on any religion. However, we will be maintaining strict behavior standards. We want this week to be a safe place where everyone can learn and grow personally while helping others.

Can I sign up by myself?

Yes. You don’t have to sign up with a friend or sibling. We will have participants from lots of different places. You will have a new group of friends in no time.

Do I need to know Spanish?

No knowledge of the Spanish language is required. There will always be Spanish speaking leaders available to help.


Can I call home or use the internet?

It is a very busy week with back to back activities. We will allow time for occasional internet use. Internet speed is limited and calls or video chats will be difficult. Messaging or emailing is possible. In the case of an emergency and a parent needs to reach their son or daughter, they will be able to call a U.S. number and reach Greg Jensen on his cell phone.

Do I need a passport?

Yes, a valid passport is needed to travel to Guatemala. At the time of travel, it must have at least six months left before it expires. This can take time to receive, so you should order your passport as soon as you are accepted.

Do I need a visa to travel to Guatemala?

Yes. When you arrive in Guatemala, your passport will be stamped, giving you a 90 day tourist visa.

Can my 15-18 year-old fly unaccompanied internationally?

Yes, they can fly to Guatemala alone. Different airlines have different requirements. Some airlines may require a notarized letter from the parents. Check with the airline for exact requirements.

Will someone be at the airport in Guatemala City when I arrive?

Yes. Greg Jensen will be at the airport to personally pick up each participant.

How much luggage can I bring?

Each participant is allowed one checked suitcase or bag, and a carry-on bag, such as a backpack.

What should I bring?

Each participant will be provided with a detailed packing list. It includes basic clothing, toiletries, a journal, pen, and a water bottle. You do not need to bring anything out of the ordinary.

Can I wash clothes during the trip?

There are no washing facilities for participants. Please plan accordingly and bring enough clothes, especially socks and underwear.

What flight should I purchase?

We require that all participants arrive on Saturday before 3pm, and depart on Saturday after 12pm, whenever possible.

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