Haliburton Highlands Secondary School teacher Darla Searle is inviting local students to join her on an adventure of a lifetime next year, having recently booked an eight-day educational tour of Costa Rica.

Planned for April 2023, the trip includes stays in five major cities in the Central American nation, providing a unique insight into Costa Rican life and culture. Searle said she’s hoping to take dozens of students with her for an experience she believes they’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

“My purpose with this is to give these kids some lasting memories, some truly life-changing experiences they can enjoy with their friends,” Searle said. “When I think about my own memories from high school 40 years ago, I still remember going to Stratford, going to the ROM to see King Tut. I think it’s important that, after the two years we’ve had, we give these kids something they can really remember.”

Searle said today’s students have had to endure much with the ongoing pandemic, missing out on field trips, dances, and most extracurriculars.

“I do not want their enduring memory of high school to be a mask, and not being able to do things because of a global pandemic,” Searle said.


The trip is being offered through EF Educational Tours Canada. A community information session providing more details, including an itinerary of events, is being held virtually April 12.

Sharing some of those details, Searle said participants will jet off on Good Friday, landing in San Jose, the Costa Rican capital. They will also visit Sarchi, Monteverde, Sarapiqui and the Arenal region. Over the course of the week there will be tours of a coffee plantation, an active volcano, Braulio Carillo National Park, the Santa Elena Cloud Forest and EARTH University.

“The idea is to give the kids a chance to learn a little bit more about the world. Broaden their horizons a little bit,” Searle said. “The trip to EARTH University in particular will be a wonderful opportunity. Their programming brings students from other countries, teaches them how to be more sustainable and then sends them back to their country armed and equipped with all this new knowledge. We’ll be spending a full day there, doing a bunch of experiments.”

Searle says there will be a chaperone for every six kids booked on the trip. She says there’s no maximum, and is hoping to take at least a full bus load with her. Originally, she had planned an eight-day excursion to Greece, but changed location due to the current instability in Europe.

“It’s a bit of a blessing, really. Greece would have been wonderful, but this trip that’s been organized for Costa Rica is one-of-a-kind. It’s one of those things that the kids will do, and then never do again,” Searle said.

For more information, or to register for the information session, visit rsvp.eftours.ca/ yvb83hs.

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