As college students all over the country brave the cold, wind and snow to walk to their classes on campus, their thoughts begin to turn to all of the possibilities that Spring Break holds. Warmth! Tans! Relaxation! These thoughts will inspire countless Google searches for “free booze and place to stay in south padre.” But if we’re being totally honest, drinking on the beach for days on end is exhausting and can get boring pretty quickly.
Perhaps this might be the year to trade in sunburns and hangovers for a meaningful experience that allows you to make a difference. Several local and national organizations offer Alternative Spring Break trips where students can travel and volunteer for a specific cause. Put your Google search skills to use to find out more about specific opportunities, and keep these things in mind as you start planning your trip:
Make the most of your time.
Is there an issue or organization that you’re passionate about? Do you know other people who are doing an Alternative Spring Break? Start asking around to see if any groups on your campus or in your community are organizing something. Also spend some time thinking about where you’d like to go. You might not have a preference about the service work you’ll be doing, but maybe you’ve always wanted to see South America. Use this as an opportunity to cross something off your bucket list. Once you’ve identified programs you’re interested in, spend some time looking at the itineraries. If you’re torn between two, pick the one that allows you to do the most with your week.
Set a budget and start saving up.
Most Alternative Spring Breaks cost money and some can be quite expensive (but so is a week at Panama City Beach, and this way you get to help people.) Identify how much you’re able/willing to spend on your trip, and make sure you stick within your budget. Look into what the program cost includes. Are meals paid for? Will you be expected to find and fund your own transportation? Are there free days or nights when you’ll need money for other activities? Spring Break isn’t all that far away, but if you start saving now you’ll have some extra cash when it finally arrives.
Have realistic expectations.
Will you change the world in a week? No, but you can make an impact on someone’s life. You might be able to frame a house, improve a campsite, or assist scientists in important ecological research. One thing is certain; you aren’t going to regret using your break to do good.