Teen Programs

Spend one to eight weeks this summer studying abroad, on the lush, tropical coast of Mexico studying Spanish.  Experience the rich and colorful Mexican culture and build new friendships with students from different parts of the U.S., Canada and Mexico! Our teen Spanish summer program will be held this year from June 16th – August 12th, 2012

La Catalina Natural Language School’s Teen Spanish Summer Program offers a complete cultural and Spanish language immersion program for adventure-minded teens, where students can learn Spanish, live in our small tropical beach community of La Manzanilla, and participate in exciting excursions in the surrounding areas. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience that teens will remember forever.


We are accepting up to 15 high school students in each week-long session from various parts of the United States and Canada. Participants in the Spanish camp should be mature individuals (ages 14 – 17) entering or enrolled in high school for the upcoming year. No previous experience with speaking Spanish is necessary for participation. Students must demonstrate outstanding behavior and a commitment to learning and will be admitted to our program through an application process including a letter of recommendation from a teacher or employer.


La Catalina Natural Language School is located in the charming Mexican village of La Manzanilla, in the state of Jalisco. La Manzanilla is a small beach town of just over 1,500 Mexican residents. The village is nestled between gently sloping mountains covered with dense tropical foliage on one side and a beautiful beach with lofty palms on the other. The warm climate, beautiful beaches and friendly Mexican people make La Manzanilla a true tropical paradise!

La Manzanilla is approximately three and a half hours south of Puerto Vallarta and one and a half hours north of Manzanillo by car, with the Manzanillo’s  international airport (ZLO) only 45 minutes away.


Our Spanish program consists of:

  • 2 hour Spanish classes (5 x week)
  • 1 hour of guided homework (3 x week)
  • Homestay & meals with Mexican families
  • Volunteer work in community (6 – 10 hrs/week)
  • Cultural class (2 x week)
  • Teen social nights and language exchanges with locals


Students will participate in a private group Spanish course tailored to their needs and interests. They will be grouped according to their level in a beginner, intermediate, or advanced Spanish course. Classes are small in size (limited to 6 students per level) and all students receive plenty of one-on-one time with the teachers. Our teachers are native Spanish speakers who are caring, professional, well-trained, and experienced.

Spanish classes meet daily for two hours, Monday through Friday, in our beautiful outdoor cool and breezy Palapa classroom overlooking La Manzanilla’s beach and oceanfront.

In addition to the Spanish classes, the students will meet three times a week with a tutor to assist them with their homework assignments, including journaling about their experience in Spanish, reviewing and mastering the materials covered in class, working on developing their Spanish conversation skills, and using the Spanish CDs which they will be given as part of their course material to develop and refine their oral and auditory fluency.


At La Catalina, we have integrated the latest research and findings on language acquisition, along with a holistic mind/body/emotion approach to learning. Our methodology puts very little emphasis on conceptual grammar with speakers who are not at a fluent level. Instead the emphasis is on familiarization and usage of Spanish. Our approach helps student see and experience first-hand that they can learn Spanish quickly and naturally through right practice and encourages students to take risks with the language and just “blurt it out” initially. Lots of games, songs, and age appropriate activities are used to create a fun and engaging learning environment when teaching classes to young learners.


Living with a Mexican family is an exceptional and heart-warming experience for students as it gives students a real taste of Mexican culture, helps accelerate learning the Spanish language, and can lead to lifelong friendships. We place one to two students in a home with a Mexican family for the duration of their stay. All families who participate in our program are carefully selected and are genuinely interested in welcoming their homestay students as another family member.

During their stay with the family, students can participate in daily conversations with family members, join them for meals and receive assistance with homework and other questions they may have. It is also encouraged that the students participate as a family member, which might mean helping prepare meals or assisting with miscellaneous tasks around the house. To facilitate students learning experiences, it is a requirement that the Mexican families only speak Spanish in the household with the foreign students. This is an important component of the program, which allows students to truly “experience” the Mexican culture, develop life long friendships, and strengthen their Spanish acquisition skills.


Each student will be placed in a volunteer position in the community for approximately

6-10 hours per week. Participation in the volunteer program allows students to become involved in the local community and gain a deeper cultural understanding and appreciation of the workings of Mexican society. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to practice their Spanish outside of the classroom setting and may receive credit at their high school for community service. Students’ volunteer placements will be aligned with an area of personal interest as much as possible.

Areas of Volunteer Work

  • Education Projects
  • Teaching English to Locals
  • Building/Construction Work
  • Mexican Cooking
  • Environmental and Ecology projects
  • Community Service projects
  • Art and/or Dance with children


In addition to the Spanish classes, there will be hands on cultural classes twice a week where students will partake in activities related to the Mexican culture, including some of the following options: beading, painting, Mexican cooking, collage making, paper maché, video making and more!


Everyday on the weekdays the group will have an activity time where the trip leaders will plan a fun recreational activity, which may include swimming at the beach, playing volleyball or soccer with the locals, going on a group hike, and other activities. They may also take the bus to a local town 15 to 30 minutes away for cultural activities. The group time also provides an opportunity for the students to debrief with their trip leader and share their feelings and reflections about their trip experience.


Teens come together with their trip leader for fun and lively evening events, which may include game nights, movies, dancing, bonfires, moonlight hikes, a talent show, etc. The local Mexican teens may also be invited to some of these events to create a cross-cultural experience where new friendships can be forged.


In addition to Spanish program, we offer local excursions on the weekends, which will provide insight into Mexico’s culture, history, and local ecology, as well as plenty of recreational opportunities.

Full-Day & Weekend Overnight Excursions

We offer Saturday full-day excursions to different places of interest. Due to popular request, we have also added a number of overnight excursions, to provide opportunities for the students to get to know other nearby regions in Mexico. (These excursions are optional, and are offered for an additional fee.) For those students who choose not to sign up for the overnight excursions, they will continue with their regular weekend school schedule (see sample weekly schedule).

Below is the schedule for our Saturday day-long and weekend overnight excursions. These are highly recommended, as they will increase the students’ cultural immersion experience and add excitement to their stay in Mexico!

Week 1: Friday, June 22nd – Saturday, June 23rd
Manzanillo, México 2 day/1 night City & Waterfalls Tour


Students will depart from La Manzanilla Friday morning and take a bus 2 hours south to the larger port city of Manzanillo. Upon arriving, students will get to explore the bustling downtown area and city market and enjoy a traditional Mexican lunch. In the afternoon, they will get to relax at their hotel on the beach (http://www.hotel-la-posada.info/), and have some free time swimming and snorkeling in the crystal clear waters, before enjoying dinner out on the town. On Saturday morning, the group will go on a full-day tour to the beautiful “El Salto” waterfalls, topping 100 ft., where they will hike through the lush tropical forest, swim in refreshing waters, see exotic plants such as the “Chicle” tree, where Chiclets gum comes from, and have lunch in the mountain pueblo of Minatitlan.


COST: $220 USD


Week 2: Saturday, June 30th
Blue Bay Resort
The students will travel to the beautiful Blue Bay Resort located 20 minutes north of La Manzanilla for a full day of fun and luxury at the end of their stay in Mexico. There they can lounge around the beautiful crystal clear pools overlooking the beach, have access to a galore of recreation activities, including horseback riding, volleyball, boating, snorkeling, sea kayaking, tennis and more, and enjoy unlimited tasty meals at the resort. (www.losangeleslocos.com/home.htm)

COST: Included in the trip package

Week 3: Thursday, July 5th – Saturday, July 7th
Puerto Vallarta 3 day/2 night Tour

  • DAY 1 – Students will travel 4 hours by bus to the beautiful Mexican resort city of Puerto Vallarta to experience the culture and natural beauties of this magical place. On Day 1, they will explore the city on foot, walking through the cobbled streets and along its beautiful seafront “malecón” with views of the bay and visiting historic sites, including the Cathedral de Guadalupe. Students will enjoy eating at festive Mexican restaurants and practicing their Spanish with the friendly vendors in the streets.
  • DAY 2 – Students will go on a full-day excursion to Las Animas, one of the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta accessible by boat. Students will hop on a catamaran for a cruise on Banderas Bay, enjoying a continental breakfast while soaking up the famous sunshine of Puerto Vallarta. They will stop at Los Arcos, a protected marine preserve, for some of the area’s best snorkeling, then it’s on to Las Animas. Here students will enjoy the brand new adventure park, featuring such exciting activities as zip lines, hanging bridges, climbing, and more. After the park, students will head to the beach, where the group will enjoy a hot-cooked lunch in full view of the gorgeous Banderas Bay. On the cruise back to Vallarta, students can try their luck fishing to add even more fun to a great day in Puerto Vallarta. In the evening, the group leader will organize a night on the town for the group.
  • DAY 3 – After breakfast, students will have a chance to visit the lively Municipal Market, where traditional Mexican handicrafts are sold. This is a great opportunity for students to buy souvenirs and practice their bartering skills. The group will depart Puerto Vallarta at noon, getting them back to their host families’ houses late Saturday afternoon.

COST: $325 USD

Week 4: Saturday, July 14th
Tenacatita Bay Tour & Snorkeling


Students will be picked up in a boat and will take a 30 minute cruise north to the beautiful Tenacatita Beach where they may spot dolphins and sea turtles along the way. Upon arriving to Tenacatita Beach, they will go on a jungle boat tour through a mangrove and learn about the local wildlife and ecology and snorkel at a coral reef with crystal clear waters. Upon returning by boat to La Manzanilla, everyone will have lunch at a festive Mexican restaurant on the beach and have time to swim.

COST: Included in the trip package


Week 5: Saturday, July 21st
ATV Excursion to Peña Blanca Beach
Students will experience the excitement of the powerful and easy to handle Honda ATVs. A professional guide will lead students through rugged mountain trails to the unspoiled and endless beach of Peña Blanca on the ATV’s. Along the way, students will capture spectacular views of the tropical forest and exuberant vegetation. Upon arriving to the Peña Blanca beach, students will have a chance to swim, have a delicious Mexican lunch and meet the friendly people of the village.


Week 6: Friday, July 27th – Saturday, July 28th
Colima 2 day/1 night Tour

DAY 1 – Students will travel 3 ½ hours by bus to the small colonial city of Colima. Upon arrival, they will have some free time to explore Colima on foot with their trip leader and visit its cathedrals, museums, parks, and fashionable storefronts. Students will stay the night in Colima and get to enjoy a taste of the Colima night life, including seeing a film in Spanish at the cinema to improve their español and experiencing the festive night life in the central plazas.

DAY 2 – The group will go on a day-long tour with an experienced bilingual guide where they will visit the quaint nearby town of Comala where they will enjoy lunch accompanied by a live Mariachi band, see spectacular views of the Colima volcano and visit the Chanal ruins of the native Nauatl people, before returning to La Manzanilla.

COST: $270 USD

Week 7: Saturday, August 4th
Barra de Navidad


Students will travel by bus to the picturesque and popular beach town of Barra de Navidad, located 30 minutes south of La Manzanilla. There they will spend the morning body surfing or swimming in the ocean, followed by a walking and boat tour of the area. The students will finish the day shopping at a number of the traditional arts and crafts shops and enjoying a very special authentic Mexican lunch.

COST: Included in the trip package


Week 8: Saturday, August 11th
Horseback Riding in Aguacate
Students will take a horseback riding tour around the plantations and marshlands behind Aguacate, a little farming and ranching town 35 minutes south of La Manzanilla. We will ride through and around plantations of coconut, banana, mango, tamarindo and aguacate, fields of tomatoes, chilli, papaya and pastures for goats, sheep and cattle. Many area farmers and ranchers still travel to their fields and back daily on horseback or move their livestock from horseback so this tour is a great way to see the local countryside and experience close up an average day in Mexico for many people who live here.

COST: Included in the trip package


Victor Amezcua and Julie Catton, former teachers from San Francisco, California, founded La Catalina School in 2002. They continue to be the Directors and work with a small, but tight knit staff which includes our experienced trip chaperones and Spanish teachers. Close communications, meetings and check-ins between the students, the Directors, their trip chaperones and their Spanish teachers will take place on a daily basis. Our supportive staff at La Catalina will work together to carefully oversee the students and help make every aspect of their trip a safe, fun, organized, enriching and educational experience.


La Catalina School hires very experienced bilingual trip leaders, who have traveled or lived in Mexico. We look for leaders with lots of positive energy and who genuinely love working with teens. Information will be posted soon on who our 2010 trip leaders will be. We have a chaperone to student ratio of 1:8.


As our premier concern with this program is that our participants are safe, the school has a very strict drug and alcohol free policy and curfew that will be strictly enforced by the directors and trip leaders. In the event that a student violates this policy, he or she will be expelled from the school and the parents will be responsible for arranging immediate return of the student and will forfeit all unused tuition. Students with prior history of drug and/or alcohol abuse will not be admitted into the program.


  • 9:00-9:30 Breakfast with host family
  • 10:00 – 12:00 Spanish Classes
  • 12:00 – 2:00 Volunteer Work
  • 2:00 – 3:30 Lunch with host family & Free time
  • 4:00 – 5:00 Guided Homework Hour
  • 5:00 – 7:00 Group Activity Time
  • 8:00 – 9:00 Dinner with host family


There are two options for participants to travel to Mexico:

Option 1: Escorted Travel Option – Available from Los Angeles, CA

$950 per week + $890 one time cost for round trip airfare and escort services.


  • Round trip airfare
  • Fully-escorted services from LAX to Mexico and back
  • Travel insurance
  • Transport from the airport in Mexico
  • Fully-chaperoned program in Mexico
  • Complete room & board with a Mexican host family
  • Spanish classes and course materials
  • Cultural classes
  • Volunteer work placement
    All Saturday day-long excursions, except ATV excursion (Overnight excursions are optional and available for an additional cost.)

Option 2: Independent Travel Option – Departing from any location

$950 per week. Includes:

  • Travel insurance, airport pick up & delivery in Mexico
  • Fully-chaperoned program in Mexico
  • Complete room & board with a Mexican family
  • Spanish classes and course materials
  • Cultural classes
  • Volunteer work placement
  • Weekend excursions
  • All Saturday day-long excursions, except ATV excursion (Overnight excursions are optional and available for an additional cost.)
  • (Does not include airfare & escort services to and from Mexico.)



Costs do not include:

Optional overnight excursions, ATV excursion to Pena Blanca Beach, and student’s personal expenses, including: shopping, email use, telephone calls, postage for mailings, food eaten at airports or outside of the food pre-arranged by school (i.e. snacks purchased at the stores.)

Estimated student personal expenses budget per week:

  • Email $ 5 – $ 10
  • Telephone $ 5 – $ 25
  • Postage $ 5
  • Shopping/Souvenirs $ 25 – $ 40
  • Food & Snacks $ 20 – $ 35
  • Misc. Expenses $ 10 – $ 20

Total- $ 70 – $ 140


La Catalina School will provide an escorted trip to and from Mexico every two weeks during the 8-week program, when 2 or more students request this service on a given departure date. The students and our school escort will depart from the Los Angeles (LAX) airport. Families who would like to send their children with our school escort should arrange to have their child meet our escort on the designated departure date at LAX three hours before the group’s departure time. Students will then leave LAX with La Catalina School’s escort who will deliver them safely to the designated Mexico airport (ZLO or PVR) and escort them back at the end of their stay. Scheduled escorted departure dates from LAX are as follows:

June 16th and 30th

July 14th and 28th

Students can be escorted back from the designated Mexico airport (ZLO or PVR) to LAX on the following dates:

June 30th

July 14th and 28th

August 11th

(Escorted travel arrangements from other centralized locations, including the Houston airport, can potentially be made upon request for large enough student groups. Please inquire for the possibility of making such an arrangement.)


Students may opt to purchase their own ticket and fly independently to the Manzanillo, Mexico (ZLO) airport, on any Saturday or Sunday from June 16th – August 5th, 2012 and depart any Saturday or Sunday from June 23rd – August 12th, 2012. La Catalina School will pick up students upon their arrival to ZLO and escort them back to ZLO at the end of their stay, seeing them on to their plane to their home state. While in Mexico, students are fully chaperoned.


If it is not possible to book your flight on one of the scheduled arrival/departure days specified above, you can make special arrangements with La Catalina School for an alternative arrival and departure date. You will need to check with us before booking your tickets to confirm that your proposed date modifications will work. (There will be an additional cost for making these special arrangements.)


Email us at groups@lacatalinaschool.com or call us at (011) 52-315-351-5362 (from outside of Mexico). We will send the trip registration guidelines and forms along with information on how to make your payment for the trip. A registration fee of $100 must be sent in along with your child’s application form. This fee in nonrefundable and does not apply to trip tuition & fees.



Recruiting friends! ($50 for every friend that you recruit)

Registering early! ($50 for registering by March 1st, 2012)

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