Project World School | Panama/Colombia – The Pirate’s Life – 30 Day Learning Community
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Panama/Colombia – The Pirate’s Life – 30 Day Learning Community

A Pirate’s Life Retreat

March 12th – April 11th, 2018

This 30 day learning community is centered in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans & coasts of Panama and Colombia with a focus on nautical life and piratical history. On the high seas every participant will have the opportunity to experience what it feels like to trust their fellow sailors and work in community. No mutiny will be tolerated.

The 2018 Panama/Colombia Retreat is a temporary learning-community, utilizing the seascape and culture of Panama and Colombia as a means for immersive discovery in history, culture, marine biology, astronomy and science. Project World School is not a typical study abroad program as it takes advantage of the power of a learning-community to produce collaborative goals, knowledge acquisition, personal development and changes in global perspectives.

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  • 01 WHEN

    Mar 12th – Apr 11th, 2018

  • 02 WHERE

    The Pacific and Atlantic coasts and islands of Panama and Colombia

  • 03 WHO

    12 or more participants (ages 15-25) self-directed learners, unschooolers, homeschoolers & worldschoolers

  • 04 COST

    $4250 USD

  • 05 STATUS

    Open & Accepting Applications



Full accommodation for the duration of the learning community retreat
•  All airport transfers
•  All ground transportation
•  Breakfast, lunch, and dinners during the retreat
•  Entrance fees to all the included attractions
•  All workshops, talks, guided tours, and classes throughout the retreat.
•  Filtered drinking water to refill your water bottles (water bottle not included).
•  Fun!


•  International airfare
•  Laundry
•  Snacks
•  Souvenirs
•  Other personal items
•  Meals on travel days (arrival & departure)
•  International flights from your home country to each retreat location are not included


Many of our meals will be prepared by our team on deck. Breakfasts will consist of fresh fruit, juice, eggs, fresh yogurts, fish, cheeses and local breads. Lunches will be a combination of local dishes, salads, fish and other local Mediterranean and Latin flavors. On the days we have full-day outings, we’ll prepare and pack lunches for our trip, including sandwiches, fruit, chips and juice. Dinners will be a combination of self-prepared meals on deck and dinners in local island and coastal restaurants. We will make every effort to accommodate everyone’s diet restrictions including having vegetarian and gluten-free options. Please indicate any special needs on your application.


During the Panama/ColombiaThe Pirate’s Life – 30 Day Teen Learning Community, we will  be staying predominately onboard the sailboat. Our community will  occupy shared spaces that consist of bunks, mattresses, hammocks in the hull and on the deck.  All of our participants will be sharing close quarters at any given time with a minimum of personal space and privacy.


Packing List

What to Bring?

You’ll be gone for a month, and for those of you who haven’t traveled for long periods of time, we’ve prepared this list in case you might need some assistance with deciding what you should pack. So here it is, our packing list ‘suggestions‘!  Our recommendation to you is not to over do it. You’ll have to haul everything you pack around initially, and there are weight restrictions through all airlines. Also, keep in mind you will be living in shared space. There will be laundry available, and you will be able to purchase replacement shampoos, lotions, etc. near the beginning of the trip, so no need to haul around ‘family size’ bottles of anything.

NOTE: Remember the list below is a suggested list! Feel free to modify, based on your own needs. 

Packing List:


1 Long Sleeve Shirt
1 Long pants (I would recommend wearing this on the plane)
4 T-shirts
2 bathing suits
3 shorts
1 raincoat
1 sunhat with a brim

personal items / toiletries

tooth paste & toothbrush
shampoo & conditioner
insect repellent
travel towel


small flashlight
laptop computer
mp3 player/iPod


copy of passport
water bottle
day pack
anything you will need to lead a session
tiny first aid kit
duct tape
laundry bag
small padlock
ATM card
small journal or notepad and pens
musical instrument
costume, wigs, funky hats, etc. (if you are into that sort of thing)
sketch book


All participants attending this retreat must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Must be an intermediate to strong swimmer
  • Must be first aid or lifeguard certified
  • All participants must be 15 or over
  • All of our retreats require travel insurance, but this retreat also requires evacuation coverage
  • Must not be prone to motion sickness
  • Must have a good attitude. We will be living in extremely close quarters and will not tolerate drama or rifts in the community.





Schedule for Panama/Colombia

Day 1: Arrival in Panama City
Day 2: Team Building, enjoy Panama City and Casco Viejo
Day 3: Travel day to Bocas Del Toro, begin sailboat class
Day 4 and 5: Sailing Class
Day 6 and 7: Short distance sailing on calm waters
Day 8: Open waters! Travel 36~ miles towards Escudo de Veraguas
Day 9: Set foot and explore Escudo de Veraguas
Day 10: Overnight sailing to Portobello
Day 11: High seas hijinx!
Day 12: Arrive in Portobello
Day 13 and 14: Explore Portobello
Day 15: Set sail for Cartagena, Columbia
Day 16 and 17: High seas hijinx!
Day 18: Set foot in Cartagena, Colombia. Have the ship shaped.
Days 19, 20, 21 and 22: Explore Cartagena’s rich culture and landscape.
Day 23 and 24: Set sail for Guna Ayala, anchoring in many islands on the way. Make preparations for our canal crossing on the 7th (Day 25).
Day 25 and 26: Cross the Panama Canal heading south. The crossing will take two days.
Day 27: Finish our crossing and set sail that same night for Archipelagos Las Perlas.
Day 28: Closing ceremonies on Isla Contadora
Day 29: Take a ferry from Isla Contadora back to Panama City. Participants will prepare for their departure the following day.
Day 30: Retreat ends, participants depart.

The Crew

Captain: Juan V. Gramage

As I find it difficult to write about my self, ill start with how I got attention from a group of young student we had on board last year, they where from a very interesting project called students with out boarders. On this opportunity my opening statement was: at your age I crossed the Atlantic!

They where 16 years old, and I was 16 years old when, with out a big campaign or struggle to convince my parents, I was allowed to drop school and become part of the crew. I still remember hearing my parents discuss: “he will learn so much more on this experience than in five years of school…” and boy, I did, and it never ended. Since then I have been involved in a wide range of adventures, from business, to community and conservation projects to incredible travels in many corners of the world.

I’m 42, born in South America, lived, worked and studied in US for more than a decade, and 12 years ago I sailed to Panama and made it my home since.  I have a beautiful family, a 4 year old daughter, amazing people around me, and continue working in the maritime industry, as Captain and as a Maritime Mixed Services business owner, always trying to get involve in projects that challenge my self to be empathic and useful to my surroundings.




First Mate and Cook: Eric Begarama

My partner in voyage is Eric Begaram, first mate, cook and the friendliest smile and all around good guy I have sailed with. He has been at sea since he was ten, working on artisan fishing boats with his uncle and then on private sailboats.  Eric and I have been working for over five years, on charters, deliveries and have traveled together crossed the pacific and navigated around the Caribbean and pacific area gathering thousands of nautical miles together. Son of a cook, he enhances our travel experience with his spontaneous mixes of spices, from his local heritage and form his work experience on French and Spanish owned boats.

Eric Raised five children, four of his own and one adopted, also 42 years of age, comes from humble house hold, with hard, but progressive education, close to the Darien jungle in Panama, moved to Panama City at young age. Eric is big, strong and happy, kids call him Maui from the Disney movie and I joke with him that he ate Buda or that he is Buda from the bay, to say the least, he is a well-rounded able seaman and best partner for our journey.