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We are very pleased that you are interested in the Alternative Break Program. Please review these FAQs to learn more about the program, and participant expectations and responsibilities. For more information or to speak to someone about the program, please contact the Civic and Community Engagement Center located in SC-213 at (201)-684-7586 or by e-mail

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is an Alternative Break?

    During alternative break trips, teams of college students engage in community service typically focused on a particular social issue such such as poverty, education reform or conservation. Some alternative break trips explore other ways, such as role plays and simulations or think tanks, to work towards the common good. Trips are usually about one week in duration. Along with performing service, the groups also learn about the culture, customs and socio-economic conditions of the place—be it a destination abroad or here in the U.S.—where they are volunteering. Last, but definitely not least, participation in alternative breaks contributes to self-discovery, self-growth, and working as a part of a team towards a common goal.

  2. Why are trips alcohol and substance free?

    One reason Alternative breaks were founded was to counter the excesses of “traditional” college spring breaks. Beyond this, alcohol and other substance free environments promote safety, health and wellness and offer participants more authentic opportunities for team-building and service to others.

  3. How do I apply for an alternative break trip?

    The application for all the trips run by the Civic and Community Engagement Center will be available on Org Sync. Create an Org Sync account if you don’t already have one.

  4. How does the selection process work?

    There will be a selection committee for each trip composed of students, faculty and/or staff who will review the applications and make selection recommendations to the Director of the Center for Student Involvement, the Assistant Director for Civic Engagement and the Graduate Assistant for Civic Engagement.

  5. When will I be notified if I am selected?

    Applicants selected to become an alternative break participant will be notified before the end of each fall semester.

  6. How many alternative spring break trips are offered and to what destinations?

    Five (5) trips were offered in March 2012. The destinations were Quito, Ecuador; Aranjuez, Costa Rica; Asheville, North Carolina; Perryville, Arkansas and Rutland, Massachusetts. Six (6) trips were offered in March 2013. The destinations were Cabarete, Dominican Republic; Aranjuez, Costa Rica; Asheville, North Carolina; Perryville, Arkansas, Rutland, Massachusetts and New Orleans, Louisiana.  Seven (7) trips will be offered in March 2014. The destinations are Cabarete, Dominican Republic; Aranjuez, Costa Rica; Asheville, North Carolina; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Staten Island, New York; Rutland, Massachusetts and New Orleans, Louisiana.

  7. Are all the trips open to all students?

    The Massachusetts trip to the Heifer Overlook Farm are reserved for first-year students only. The trips to New Mexico, New Orleans, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic are open to only sophomores, juniors and seniors.

  8. Are there trip leaders? How are they selected?

    Each alternative break trip has at least one student leader and one faculty or staff leader. Those interested in serving in this capacity should contact the Civic and Community Engagement Center for more information. Trip leaders are selected to based on prior experience with alternative break trips or similar travel experiences, overall leadership qualities and abilities, and commitment to work that furthers the common good.

  9. How much do the trips cost?

    Each trip will have its own cost. Fees are determined based on transportation, lodging, meals, program and other costs. The Center for Student Involvement subsidizes a percentage of the total cost of each trip.

  10. What about fundraising?

    Each trip is encouraged to do fundraising for their respective group. It is also recommended that students fund raise individually to help with cost. The Civic and Community Engagement Center also organizes general fundraising for the program.

  11. Will I receive a refund if I pay for a trip and then can’t go?

    Refunds are only issued in rare instances. You must request a refund in writing. For international trips and other trips involving air travel, no refunds will be issued once your plane ticket has been generated. All participants will be provided with a copy of the Refund Policy.

  12. Will I need a passport for the international trips?

    YES!!! You will need a valid passport to travel internationally. To be considered for either international trip, you must submit a copy of your valid passport to the Civic and Community Engagement Center at same time as you submit your application on Org Sync.

  13. Are there health and safety issues to keep in mind?

    YES!!! You are the primary guardian of your own health and safety. It is important to remember this. It is also important to remember that you will be traveling with a group. Group members look out for each other and help each other to stay safe and healthy. You will be given a liability waiver and medical information form so that trip leaders can be aware of any health conditions or medical concerns. When traveling to unfamiliar destinations it is crucial to observe the highest safety practices. Always travel with the whole group or at least in pairs. Be certain that someone knows where you are at all times. Observe all the health and safety regulations of the host site. Never take unnecessary risks with your own safety or the safety of others. International health insurance is included in the total cost for International Trips.

  14. Once I have been selected for a trip, what are my responsibilities?

    Each trip will hold at least three (3) pre-trip solidarity meetings. You are responsible for attending each pre-trip meeting. These meetings will cover health and safety, itinerary, work projects, team-building exercises, fundraising and so on. It is critical that you make yourself available for these meetings in order for the group to make the most of their experience. Once you have returned from your alternative break trip, you will be responsible for attending at least one (1) post-trip solidarity meeting and for attending, if at all possible, the celebratory luncheon or reception that usually takes place in April.

  15. How do I get more information?

    Visit the CCEC Org Sync page on line and the Civic and Community Engagement Center in room SC213 to stay up to date. Applications should become available each October for March trips.

Winter 2017 Alternative Break

The Civic and Community Engagement Center will host its annual Winter Alternative Break trip to Aranjuez, Costa Rica. Students will work with a Macaw sanctuary in Aranjuez, Costa Rica at El Manantial from January 3rd through January 12th, 2017. Possible projects at El Manantial include feeding animals, maintaining agricultural fields, cleaning food/water dishes, cleaning cages, planting trees in the village and at the local school, painting projects in the local school, and developing a program of environmental education for local school kids who visit the Project. Outings to a local beach, a trip to the Cloud Rainforest at Monteverde and more will be built into the itinerary. Applications will become available via Studio Abroad in early September and are due by September 30th.

Alternative Spring Break 2017 Trips

Look for Alternative Spring Break 2017 destinations and prices to be announced in September 2016! Applications will become available via OrgSync and Studio Abroad by the end of September and will be due in mid-October.

Alternative Spring Break 2016 Trips

For more information on each trip, please click on the image adjacent to the summary.

Albuquerque & Abiquiu, New Mexico

Students will be immersed in the distinctive culture of New Mexico through service Imageprojects including working at a community garden and engaging in environmental and social issues in New Mexico’s largest city, Albuquerque. Later in the week the group will travel to rural Abiquiu where they will engage in sustainability-oriented service projects at Ghost Ranch and at a farm in the area. Students will get to admire the beauty of the Southwest through hikes and other recreational activities. This trip, co-sponsored with the College’s Krame Center, will also feature a focus on mindfulness practices.

Aranjuez, Costa Rica

ImageStudents work with the El Manantial Macaw Sanctuary, a wildlife conservation charity in Aranjuez, Costa Rica to feed, clean, and build enclosures for the animals there which include primarily macaws along with parrots, cockatoos, spider monkeys and marmosets among others. The animals there are not pets, and many of them have been rescued from the black market pet trade. The hope is that one day many of them will return back to their natural habitats.

Asheville, North Carolina

Students and staff will go to Asheville, North Carolina to work with Habitat for Humanity for two days.  The group will build houses for those in need in the area.  They will also paint houses, replace roofing, lay foundation, and perform other tasks to build the house.  They will meet the homeowners they are helping, as well. Students will also work at the Art Space Charter School Community Garden for two days to help combat hunger needs in the area.

Asheville, North Carolina

10981395_391754994336814_3814419322291626494_nStudents will assist with RiverLink, a regional non-profit spearheading the economic and environmental revitalization of the French Broad River and its tributaries as a destination for everyone to work, live and play.  Students will also work with the Shiloh Community Garden to help combat hunger needs in the area.


Rutland, Massachusetts (First-Year Only Trip)

Students and staff will go to the Heifer Overlook Farm in Rutland, Massachusetts for service learning on a sustainable farm.  Participating in a poverty simulation and attending educational workshops, the students will learnabout sustainable living, while caring for animals on the farm.