California-Nevada-Hawaii Key Clubs and KIWINs From the Ground Up

An advanced seminar about making a difference

Welcome to the Real World

As the disparity between wealth and poverty in the world grows greater every year, there is no question that the work of your generation has the power to play a crucial role in closing that gap.  Life for most of the world’s seven billion people is a struggle, with many unable to access to clean water, ample food, and protection from the elements on a daily basis.

The problems of the world are great, and it would be impossible to erase them overnight.  However, we at Rustic Pathways have reason to believe that you can make a difference. For decades now, we have been running community service programs in some of the world’s more remote and underprivileged areas. Year after year, we have learned through the villagers that we’ve worked with and the students who have joined us that above all else, there is still hope. Despite the hardships that people face around the world, change for the better is happening, and it is easier to accomplish than most people realize.

From the Ground Up

This program is specifically for students interested in learning the inner workings of real life aide projects.  Unlike other service programs, this one is decidedly academic.  Students design a group project for an underprivileged community in Cambodia and work with local people to see it come to fruition.  It entails cultivating a service project from its conception into a reality and those who join this team must be willing to do the groundwork necessary to achieve the program goals.  Students will learn from professionals in the field how projects operate from start to finish- from a project proposal and a grant request to the realization of it all and assessing its impact on the community.

Delve Into Contemporary Cambodia

From the Ground Up will introduce students to Cambodia’s complex history and help them understand the influences that shape the country today. Students will be responsible for completing the program reading list and submitting an essay prior to departure. This program will be touching on a number of very real and sensitive issues, so students should be prepared to deal with mature subject matter.

Success through Research

Throughout this program, students will be challenged to check their preconceived notions at the door and learn from the local people.  From the outside, it’s often easy to think that we know what is best for everyone else. However, this program will seek to listen to local opinions and suggestions above all others, and our projects will be based around the feedback that we get from our Cambodian friends. Students will generate a number of project proposals and the group will choose the most beneficial based on research done in the field. Collaboration and teamwork is a must, as one proposal and grant request will be fulfilled per trip. Importantly, other project proposals will be considered as future pilot projects for the Rustic Pathways Foundation.

The Way Forward

If you’re looking for an intensive service program with a real world academic element to it, From the Ground Up is the program for you. Whether you’re aspiring to start your own grassroots service project, learn about contemporary issues in Southeast Asia, or challenge yourself to be a part of positive change in action, Rustic Pathways cordially invites you to join us in Cambodia for this exciting new program.


Day 1 (Tuesday)

Relax and prepare for a world-class trip on Singapore Airlines. Prior to your departure, you will have received your pre-departure packet, which includes your Rustic T-shirts, airline tickets, and important contact information. Once you arrive at your international departure city, our Flight Liaison will help you get checked in to your international flight. Working with our Flight Liaison will be your Flight Leader, who will escort you all the way to Cambodia! Our Flight Leaders are most often schoolteachers or good friends of our organization who happily fill this role for us each year. Once you're checked in, feel free to relax and get acquainted with your new friends before boarding your flight to Cambodia!

Day 2 (Wednesday)

Ghost day. Today is lost as you cross the international dateline. Fear not – you will get this time back on your way home.

Day 3 (Thursday)

Suis-day! Welcome to Phnom Penh!
As you exit airport customs, your Rustic Pathways trip leaders will be waiting just outside the door. From here we will take our private vans to our hotel and let you freshen up before we head over to the bustling riverside for your welcome dinner. Here we'll introduce your trip leaders and they will talk about the exciting things we have in store for the week.

Day 4 (Friday)

Rise and shine for your first full day in Phnom Penh. Not only is this city the political and economic hub of the country, it also has one of the largest concentrations of NGOs and international aid than anywhere else in the world.

After breakfast, we will start off with an introduction to Cambodia's past and present, giving you a firm foundation with which to understand your surroundings. A tuk tuk ride through the buzzing traffic of Phnom Penh will give you a personal look at street life and the neighborhoods that make up this city. First visit will be the notorious Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum where local guides will share with you personal stories of terror and triumph, followed by a tour of the Killing Fields

Day 5 - Day 7 (Saturday - Monday)

We will begin to visit some successful NGO projects that have made a difference in Phnom Penh. We will have meetings with various consultants who will answer question on what it takes to start your own projects. The focus will be on the purpose of their project, the plan of action, and the basics of grant writing. This will include various types of humanitarian work ranging from helping street kids, women's vocational training such as weaving, textiles and crafts, environmental concerns such as wildlife preservation or solar power in rural villages, as well as food donation and medical care to those who need it most. At the end of each day students and staff will meet to compare notes, reference the reading material and reflect on the power of these projects.

Day 8 - Day 9 (Tuesday - Wednesday)

It is now time for us to head out to our project village, which has been selected by our Cambodian Service Team. For the next two days we will live with the residents of this village and see exactly what life here is like. Students will collect data by speaking to village elders; residents and even children, while keeping in mind all of the advice from the previous three days. You may find yourself helping out in a garden while listening to translated stories or participating in some popular non-verbal communication… volleyball! This time is really about taking in your surroundings and getting to know the people who live here and how we can help them the most.

Day 10 (Thursday)

Now that we have seen several examples of projects in action, met with international aide consultants, and also embedded ourselves in our service village listening to the needs and suggestions of the community, the next step is to come up with a plan. Students are to submit a project proposal of their own for consideration to the Rustic Pathways Foundation.

Day 11 - Day 15 (Friday - Tuesday)

The group project and budget have been approved. Time to buy materials and get crackin'! The next five days are spent in the field: building, planting, teaching, creating or whatever it may be, your idea has come to fruition. Sustainable improvements have been set into place and you have played a crucial role in every step

Day 16 (Wednesday)

Congratulations on a job well done! Today we head to Siem Reap to the ancient temple of Angkor Wat to have some down time and explore. Reflect on your time spent in the village and the goals you accomplished. What has this experience meant to you and what does it mean in a global sense in terms of instituting grassroots change?

Day 17 (Thursday)

Community service is a life long journey; one that we never tire of here at Rustic Pathways, and we hope you won't either. You now have the necessary tools to start your own organization or simply find an area in need and step in to lend a helping hand. We encourage you to take what you have learned and branch out on your own. Sowat tah peep! Be safe and best of luck! As you now know, small numbers can equal big change.

After breakfast, it's time to say goodbye to Cambodia.

Students depart Siem Reap International Airport, or go on to connect with other Rustic Cambodia programs.

An Important Note about Schedule Changes

Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity. The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.

Packing List

A quick note: Many students over-pack and sometimes have to pay for overweight bags on domestic flights. The weight limit is 15 kilograms (33 pounds). We won’t tell on you if you wear the same t-shirt twice!

Carry-on Luggage
A small backpack works best

  • Passport and Wallet
  • A photocopy of your passport
  • Sunglasses
  • A durable camera, smaller is better for this program
  • Journal
  • A good book
  • A pen

Checked Luggage
A duffel bag, suitcase, or large backpack work best. Wheeled suitcases are fun, but may not roll so well in rice paddies. All items listed with “Plastic Bag” should be packed inside a plastic bag in case bottles leak or break.

  • 2 Photocopies of your passport
  • Long pants - One lightweight pair and one heavier pair
  • Pants that have zip-off legs to convert to shorts are great
  • Shorts- 2 or 3 pairs

(Conservative clothing is a must.  No short shorts, no undergarments showing, chest and shoulders covered.  Light t-shirts and gym shorts are best. It is vital to set a good example and represent ourselves well in the community)

  • Swimsuit
  • Underwear- 5 pairs
  • Socks- 5 pairs lightweight fast drying synthetic athletic socks are best
  • T-shirts and athletic shirts, 4 or 5 total
  • A collared shirt for visiting the schools
  • One long sleeve shirt
  • Materials such as polypropylene and capilene dry fast and help you stay cool
  • Sweatshirt or jacket-lightweight and breathable
  • Rain jacket-lightweight, vented is nice
  • One casual, but nice-looking outfit for going out to dinner and visiting temples. If you’re thoughtful, you can accomplish this without packing any clothing in addition to what’s listed above
  • Sneakers- light, breathable, fast-drying
  • Flip flops are the old standby for Southeast Asian footwear Sandals that strap to your heel work great and are adequate for many of our activities
  • Water bottle
  • Personal first aid kit
    • Several band aids of assorted sizes
    • Double antibiotic ointment
    • Medical Tape
    • Preferred mild pain reliever
    • Antiseptic wipes 10
    • Sunscreen- (In a plastic bag)
    • Insect repellent with DEET, one small bottle (Plastic bag)
    • Hand sanitizer-2 small bottles (Plastic bag)
  • Watch
  • Medications-don’t forget to let the staff know which meds you take
  • Travel toothbrush, toothpaste
  • Travel soap container and soap
  • Contact lens care supplies if needed

Optional Items

  • Pictures of home, family to share with the Khmer people you’ll meet
  • A Deck of Cards
  • Khmer / English phrasebook
  • Travel pillow
  • A bag for dirty clothes-this can be a mesh bag, a pillowcase, or even a trash bag

$150-$300 The Lotus Market in central Battambang has an amazing variety of crafts, clothing, and unbelievable miscellaneous trinkets and shopping there is a real treat, so budget more if you’re a big time shopper and less if you’re a go light, less is more, bring home only the memories kind of traveler

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do students live while on this trip?

Students will be living in very nice hotel accommodations while in Phnom Penh, attending meetings and lectures on various community service projects. While in the field you will be living in the village where your project will be taking place, a traditional home stay.

Contact Us: For more information about California-Nevada-Hawaii Key Clubs and KIWINs From the Ground Up, email


  • Apply yourself with a purpose to a humanitarian cause.
  • Examine the real world challenges of local communities in need.
  • Grow your ideas from the ground up and see your projects come to life.
  • Transform the future of a community though sustainable development.
  • Gain first hand knowledge of the issues facing international aide workers today.

Program Details

Ages: 14 to 18 years old

Length: 18 days from the USA

Hours: Up to 55 hours awarded

Cost: $2,495 + $155 Internal Airfare + $1,911 Estimated International Flight Cost

Departures: Students on this program will fly from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Eligibility: You must be a Key Club member from CNH or KIWINs to attend this program


Departs Tue Returns Fri Availability
15 Jul 1 Aug Available

Dates shown are inclusive of travel time from the United States.

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