New York Key Clubs: The Lost Children of India

Volunteer in urban and rural India through educational and environmental service projects

Welcome to Rajasthan

Home to over a billion people, India is an incredibly dynamic country – a nation where landscape, language, and religion are said to change every twenty kilometers. At the heart of it all is the state of Rajasthan, known for its vibrant colors, wonderful textiles, and welcoming traditional culture. From lakes to deserts, and from city bustle to quiet village life, this program will introduce you to the rich diversity of India through meaningful service projects, homestays, and North India adventures!  Experience the hustle and bustle of modern Indian life in the city of Jaipur and then head to the peaceful village of Galthani to immerse yourself in village culture.

Jaipur:  Service at a dedicated orphanage

The heart of your time in Jaipur is the service you will do at Surman Sansthan, the orphanage located in the middle of the Pink City.  The children here range in age from infants to teenagers, and all of them were once street children who have been adopted into the family at Surman Sansthan.  The mission of the orphanage is to provide everything for these children – food, clothing, an education, and a family that shows them love.  You will be welcomed as a part of this family as you care for the newborn infants, play with the youngsters, and help the older children improve their reading skills and conversational English. The excited children here will be eager to teach you about their lives and their culture, so get ready to learn a few Hindi words, practice Bollywood dancing, and play some Rajasthani games! Since Rustic Pathways students began volunteering at Surman Sansthan Orphanage, there has been a remarkable increase in the confidence and English ability of the children at the orphanage.  Your service here will continue to contribute to the confidence of the kids you interact with and will have a great impact both on them and on yourself!

In the evenings you will have time to explore the city with the group – heading to the local markets, catching a Bollywood movie, practicing henna, and riding to historic Amber Fort on top of an elephant!

Galthani: Community service and village immersion

From the bustling city of Jaipur you will head to the small village of Galthani, where your immersion into Indian life will kick into high gear. Get to know village life intimately as you move in with a local family. Tell stories, swap English lessons for Hindi tutorials, share meals, and get to know one another during this intensive cultural exchange.

The service here will focus on a variety of community projects, including education, light construction, and environmental service. You may find yourself repairing local huts or repainting community buildings. Other projects could include building a wall at a retention pond and shifting gears to help farmers plant fruit and other trees as sources of income or to help reforest the area. After your service in Jaipur, you will be all set to head to the local school where you will lead lessons in English and math with the local students. Don't be surprised if the kids ask you to stick around for a game of soccer or cricket when their lessons end!

You will cap off the whole program with a camel safari in the Thar Desert.  Gaze at the sunset over the dunes, get cozy next to a bonfire, watch a traditional Rajasthani folk dance, and fall asleep beneath spectacular desert stars as you reflect on your incredible experience in India. 


Day 1 (Wednesday)

Today you will depart the United States from Newark to India!

Day 2 (Thursday)

Welcome to India! You land in Delhi in the evening, and meet your trip leaders after clearing customs and collecting your baggage. After getting a few snacks for the night, head with the group to the hotel for a relaxing evening and some much needed sleep.

Day 3 (Friday)

After breakfast, head out into the local neighborhood to get a first-hand look at the city through a cultural scavenger hunt. Next it’s off to the Salaam Baalak Trust, where a tour guide who was himself a street child will give you a tour of the Pahar Ganj area of Delhi and talk about his own experiences as well as the work of the Salaam Baalak Trust. In the evening, settle down for a big Indian dinner at a nearby restaurant and debrief the experiences you’ve had so far.

Day 4 (Saturday)

In the morning drive from Delhi to your new home in Jaipur. Enjoy the sights of camel carts and mountains dotted with temples as you drive through the countryside. Upon your arrival to Jaipur, settle into your room and take in some of the beautiful views of Amber Fort and the historic town of Amber. Get a jump-start on your service work by visiting local stationary shops to purchase teaching supplies. Spend the afternoon and evening in small groups developing teaching lessons, brainstorming new games, and preparing for your first morning in the orphanage the next day. Cap off the night with a spread of Indian and Western dishes for dinner while watching a traditional Rajasthani puppet show from the comfort of your table. Ask the puppet master for a chance to control these wooden handicrafts or show you how to play a couple of the traditional instruments.

Day 5 (Sunday)

Today will be your first day at the orphanage. After an introduction to the orphanage by its founder, spend the morning getting to know the children by playing name games, doing a few dances, and gauging what level of English they have to tailor your teaching lessons. There will be a wide range of ages and speaking levels, so the entire morning you will spend just connecting with the kids at the orphanage. After a quick bite for lunch, you’ll return to the orphanage to teach your first lesson with a small group of students. At night you will return to the hotel with your group and discuss a teaching plan for the remainder of the week now that you have had a chance to meet the students.

Day 6 - Day 8 (Monday - Wednesday)

For the next three days you will continue your service at the orphanage. Lead educational games and lessons for the students, then put on your learning cap as the children teach you about their culture, practice speaking Hindi, and even try to teach you the steps to a traditional Indian dance. The days will be spent working at the orphanage and in the evenings you will have opportunities to sharpen your bargaining skills at the local markets, take an elephant ride up to Amber Fort, and try your hand at lac jewelry making as you explore Jaipur and the surrounding area.

On the last day in Jaipur you’ll see traditional Rajasthani Ghoomar Dancers and have the opportunity to dance along side them before a final dinner at the hotel. Get packed up for a trip the next day as you’ll move to the village of Galthani.

Day 9 (Thursday)

Today you’ll head out by early morning train to the village of Galthani, a small village in southwest Rajasthan with a population of 2,000 people and home to potters, snake charmers, shepherds, and carpenters. The train ride is an essential Indian experience, and you’ll be able to sip chai and eat samosas as you watch the fields, mountains, and deserts of Rajasthan pass by your windows. After arrival and lunch, you will get paired with another Rustic Pathways student and meet your new homestay family! You will be welcomed into their homes for an immersion in local life. Spend the afternoon getting oriented in the village, and the evening getting to know your host family over a traditional Rajasthan meal.

Day 10 (Friday)

Your service in Galthani will include teaching English, light construction, and environmental projects. Today you will begin your service at the village school. Teaching math, English, physical fitness and arts activities will all be on the agenda, and it will be your opportunity to get the students excited to learn something new. It can be difficult to keep kids in school here, and you will be a big part of motivating them to come to class each day excited to learn. After your first day of teaching, head back to your home stay to get ready for a celebration of Holi – the festival of colors! Color your group members and families in this festival put on for the group! (Note: Holi is traditionally celebrated in March but our host families wanted to share this holiday with you while you are in India)

Day 11 (Saturday)

Today you will spend half of the day working at the school and then shift gears to contribute to another community project in the village. Deforestation has been a major issue in the area because of the local shepherds and camel farmers who have cleared the trees, so you will work on water conservation and reforestation efforts. Additionally, you will spend the afternoon doing some light construction in the village, which could range from repairing small huts to working on painting projects or mending walls on a retention pond. After the service projects conclude, you will visit a local Jain temple to learn about another religion that contributes to the diverse cultural tapestry here. Evening will be spent back with your home stay family.

Day 12 (Sunday)

Today is a holiday at the school, so the service projects will be completely focused on the environmental issues and the community projects you began tackling yesterday. In the evening you will make some visits to different local places in the community and have a chance to participate in the activities of daily community life. You will also take a short drive to the small village market of Shivganj, where you can purchase any number of traditional Rajasthani goods, including block-printed skirts and textiles, bangles, puppets, artisan crafts, and dozens of spices. You will return to your home stay family in the evening for dinner.

Day 13

This is your last day in the village, so we will make sure to make the most of it. Spend the day teaching in the school and take an afternoon break to play a game of soccer or cricket with the students. Don't worry if you've never played before – they'll show you how and you'll be running around the bases in no time! After saying goodbye to your new friends at the school, you will head out for a wildlife tour in the afternoon. Keep your eyes peeled for an elusive Indian panther or hyenas! Tonight will be your last evening with your home stay family and you can celebrate in style with another Indian festival – Diwali, the festival of lights. Learn about Diwali and watch as they light off traditional “crackers” as you enjoy your last evening in the village.

Day 14 (Tuesday)

After bidding your homestay family goodbye, you will drive down to the gates of the Thar Desert. Have lunch in the ‘Blue City' of Jodhpur and see the beautiful painted homes throughout the town. After lunch you will explore the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort. Then drive to Osian, where you will ride camels in the desert and visit the small hamlets of these desert people. As the sun sets over the sand dunes, you can reminisce with your fellow travellers about all of the incredible memories you have made over the last two weeks. You will spend your last night in India at a desert campsite, relaxing around the fire and reflecting on your experience. This will be an unforgettable night!

Day 15 (Wednesday)

After breakfast on the dunes, you will drive back to Jodhpur for the flight back up to Delhi. After one final meal together, you will head off to the airport for your flight home.

Day 16 (Thursday)

Arrive back in the United States and share the stories of your wonderful adventure! Thanks for helping spread positive energy in India and for your hard work with us this summer!

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

When packing, please be mindful of the conservative Indian culture and please leave skimpy clothing, sleeveless shirts, short shorts, and other revealing clothing behind.  Remember that part of being a good traveler is fitting in with your surroundings and clothing that is normal at home can be extremely suggestive and often times offensive in the areas we will travel to.  Most people in India rarely wear shorts, almost always wear pants or dresses, and keep their shoulders covered despite the sometimes high temperatures.  If you do not pack conservative clothing, our staff will request that you to purchase appropriate clothing upon arriving to India.

  • Camera and film (bring all of your film in your carry on and have it hand checked instead of putting it through the x-ray machines)
  • Suggested reading:  Dalai Lama’s autobiography “Freedom in Exile” or Hermann Hesse’s classic “Siddhartha,” for Leh/Ladakh programs “A Journey in Ladakh” by Andrew Harvey or “Ancient Futures” by Helena Norberg-Hodge
  • Deck of Cards
  • Snacks
  • Water Bottle (stay well hydrated on your flight, it helps with jet lag!)
  • Journal and Pen
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste (less than 3 oz tube though!)
  • Sunglasses (important in this high altitude environment, the sun is strong)
  • Comfortable pants or pajama bottoms
  • T-shirt
  • 2 Photocopies of your Indian Visa
  • 2 Photocopies of the front 2 pages of your passport
  • Wallet with about $100
  • Airline Tickets
  • Passport WITH MINIMUM 6-Month Multiple Entry India visa
  • Make sure everything you pack in your carry-on complies with the new carry on regulations of the TSA:

Checked Luggage

-A medium sized duffel bag or large back pack work best - wheeled bags are OK as long as they are medium sized and can easily be carried like a duffle over rough terrain.  It is important that you try to keep your total luggage to one piece of checked luggage.  Often you will have to carry it through streets, so it should be easily manageable!

For all programs pack the following items in your checked luggage:

  • Sleeping sack (can be purchased from item #627251 – cocoon cotton mummy liner)
  • Lightweight long pants (3 pairs).  Ex Officio, REI, and Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) all make nice ones.  You will wear pants most of the time in India, as showing your knees is considered inappropriate and even men rarely wear shorts!  Women dress VERY conservatively in India, so please respect the local culture, dresses or pants please!
  • Underwear (7 pairs)  (sink washable underwear like Patagonia and Ex Officio travelers underwear are recommended and you can bring only 3-4 if you wash in the sink.
  • Socks (2 pairs)
  • Swimsuit
  • T-shirts with sleeves, tank tops are not appropriate as shoulders should be covered (5 t-shirts)
  • Long sleeve t-shirts (2 long sleeves, it can get chilly at night)
  • Lightweight rain jacket (this rain jacket should be waterproof, the rains can be heavy at times in northern India)
  • One pair of shorts (modesty is important in Indian culture)
  • Tennis shoes (something you can work in)
  • Sandals that are strapped (Tevas or Chacos are recommended)
  • Soap in a plastic dish (Versatile liquid soaps like “Camp Suds” or “Dr. Bronners” can be more convenient for travel and biodegradable.  These can be used to wash your own laundry and yourself!)
  • Biodegradable shampoo (pack in a zip-lock bag)
  • Personal First Aid Kit (optional, we carry first aid kids on all of our trips, but personal Tylenol, medications, band-aids, etc… can be convenient)
  • Small bag for day trips (this can double as your carry-on bag)
  • Sunscreen (pack in a zip-lock bag)
  • Chapstick
  • Aloe Vera (optional)
  • Insect repellant (one heavy in DEET and one natural citronella- pack in a zip-lock bag)
  • Hand sanitizer (1 small bottles packed in a zip-lock bag)
  • Handiwipes or towlettes
  • Small packs of Kleenex tissues for public toilets in India, toilet paper can be hard to find sometimes
  • Sweatshirt
  • Hat for sun
  • Flashlight or headlamp with an extra battery
  • One towel (not white, a travel towel works great and can be found at any outdoor store like REI)
  • Laundry bag or pillowcase
  • Medications.  Bring with you whatever medications you will need during your trip, and you must disclose to your staff during orientation all of the medications that you are carrying.
  • Contacts and solution if necessary (packed in a zip-lock bag)
  • Small photo album of your family and friends to show the locals
  • Musical instruments are always appreciated if they can be easily carried
  • Frisbee, hackysack, or other fun, easy-to-carry items

Don’t leave home without your sense of adventure!!  Incredible India awaits!

Optional Items

  • Travel Pillow *a pillowcase can be a great dirty laundry bag or a comfortable pillow if you stuff it with a sweatshirt. So you could bring two pillowcases, one for each purpose

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the kids be drinking bottled water?

Students will be provided with safe drinking water on their program, either
pre-packaged bottled water or water that has been treated and filtered prior to drinking.

Do we need to get visas for this program?

YES! All students traveling to India are responsible for obtaining their own visa
for India. You must obtain a minimum 6-month, multiple entry tourist visa. The
information for obtaining the visa can be found at:

What will the accommodation on this trip be like?

Students on this trip will find themselves staying in a comfortable 3-star hotel
in the outskirts of Jaipur. The hotel has fully air conditioned rooms which will be
shared by 2-3 students, a rooftop pool, and internet access in the lobby(a charge by the hotel applies).

What immunizations do we need to get for this trip?

Rustic Pathways only requires an up-to-date Tetanus shot, however the Center for Disease Control often has recommendations that are kept updated regarding India. Since we do not know your child’s medical history, we recommend you reference the CDC website at: or the World Health Organization website at: for more information. We also suggest consulting with your local travel doctor prior to your travels for further information.

What costs are not included on this trip?

This trip includes all of the student’s accommodations, in addition to three
meals a day, drinking water, transportation, entrance fees and other related group entertainment costs. Optional activities, such as massages, internet use, phone calls home, snacks, souvenirs, etc… are extra costs. For this program, we typically recommend between US$100-200 per week for allowance depending on the student’s spending habits. Student spending can vary greatly, however, as some students may spend very little and others may spend much more if they plan on making a big purchase.

Will there be a flight leader to this country?

All flights departing from and returning to the United States will have flight
leaders. In the event a student is connecting from another country, they may or may not have a flight leader. In such instances, we generally have coordinated with the airlines to escort the students from check-in through customs, and delivered to a verified Rustic Pathways staff member in Delhi airport.

How does this program connect to other programs?

This program connects seamlessly with our other India programs and students
traveling in different regions of India will use Delhi as their hub. This program
also easily connects with any of our other programs in Thailand, Cambodia,
Vietnam, Laos, Burma, and China.

How long is the flight to this country?

Students travel on a very comfortable nonstop flight from Newark Airport in New Jersey (EWR) to Indira Gandhi Airport in Delhi, India. It is approximately 14
hours each way.

What kind of food will we be eating?

Students will be eating a mix of Indian, Chinese and a little western-style food.

Dietary restrictions are typically accommodated quite easily and vegetarians are in paradise here with the extensive options of vegetarian dishes. Indian foods can be easily sampled at a local Indian restaurant, but they consist of rice, lentils (dals), curries, and flatbreads (naan, roti, parantha).

How many girls and boys are usually on this trip?

This program generally breaks down to about a 60% female and 40% male mix

Is your staff qualified in First Aid?

Because safety is our number one priority, all of our programs have guides that are certified with First Aid and CPR training. Many of our guides are also
qualified Wilderness First Responders, EMTs, Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.

How often (if at all) will students be able to do laundry on this program and what will it cost?

During this program, students will be moving around a bit, so laundry will only be able to be done one or two times on the program. Students should keep in mind that they don’t need new outfits for each day and ‘rewearing’
clothing is perfectly fine! In fact, the less you pack, the happier of a traveler
you’ll be. Many of your guides will be carrying just a small pack to travel
with, you’d be amazed at how little you need! Laundry will be the equivalent
of about US$10 per load generally.

How often will they have access to phone and internet?

Students will have daily access to the internet, except for days where there are internet "hiccups" in the area we are staying where it can be done for an entire day. Parents will receive safe arrival emails upon their student’s arrival
and should also remember that many students get to India and to fully immerse themselves in their trip and new opportunities stay away from things like phone and internet which connect them back to their lives at home. This is completely normal and parents should remember that ‘no news is good news’ if they don’t hear from their child during the course of their trip

What is the climate in the region where this program takes place?

The climate during this time of year generally is hot and sometimes humid. During much of the year, temperatures in India can be in excess of 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Will I receive community service hours on this program?

Yes! At the end of summer you will be mailed a certificate of completion for the number of hours that you volunteered on the program. You will have the opportunity to receive the maximum number of hours listed for this program as long as you work hard and with a positive attitude on each and every day of service. We do however reserve the right to deduct hours from your certificate of completion if you refuse to do service or do not complete the service with a positive of effective attitude after talking with our staff.

How physically strenuous is this program?

This program is not very strenuous, but students should be able to hike short
distances, and be in fairly good physical shape. Students with health concerns
should contact our India staff

What are the optional activities available at an additional cost on this program?

This program does not have optional activities that will require a student to
spend extra money.

Can we cater to specific diets?

India is extremely vegetarian friendly, however some special diets may be more
difficult to cater to during parts of the trip.

What is the ratio of guides to students?

Depending on the program, we sometimes have a lower staff to student ratio, but with safety as our top priority, we maintain at least a 4 or 5 to 1 student to staff ratio.

Contact Us: For more information about New York Key Clubs: The Lost Children of India, email


  • Give back to two different Indian communities through educational and environmental service projects that benefit the communities and people you will interact with.
  • Educate former street children at a unique and dedicated orphanage in the Pink City of Jaipur.
  • Immerse yourself in Indian culture through a village homestay, traditional folk dance performances, and exploring vibrant local markets.
  • Help plant trees to combat deforestation, or construct a retention pond in the rural village of Galthani
  • Ride a camel through the sand dunes and fall asleep under a blanket of stars in the Thar Desert.

Program Details

Ages: 14 to 18 years old

Length: 16 days from the USA

Hours: Up to 40 hours awarded

Cost: $2,795 + $1,995 Estimated International Flight Cost + $150 Internal Airfare

Eligibility: You must be a current Key Club member from the New York District to attend this program

Notice: Students on this program will fly from Newark, NJ.


Departs Wed Returns Thu Availability
23 Jul 7 Aug Available

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

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