For most college students (and even some high school students), Spring Break is a time to get away from school, go to a warm and exotic climate, and get smashed for five days before heading back to the academic grind. But there is a Spring Break trend that is on the upswing as some youths decide to use their Spring Breaks for something more altruistic. Instead of partying non-stop in Cancun, Miami, or Vegas, these young people are heading to poor areas in Mexico, local trouble spots, and to the Gulf Coast to help with Hurricane Katrina clean up.
Choosing an Alternative Spring Break can be fulfilling and rewarding. You get to help people, and it even looks good on a resume. And because Alternative Spring Break is becoming so popular, it is relatively easy to find a club or an organization to help you get involved. Most college campuses have Alternative Spring Break clubs that spend the entire academic year preparing for the trip. They hold fundraisers and collect toys and hygiene items to pass out in poor areas. At Southern Utah University, the Alternative Spring Break club routinely heads to Mexico to bring supplies and toys, repair schools, build playgrounds, and clean up hazards.
If you aren’t on a college campus, there are other ways to get involved. There are plenty of organizations set up especially for Alternative Spring Breaks. One of them, which can be found at Unique Spring Break, offers several options to coincide with different academic schedules. It offers the chance to see different parts of Central and South America, and help with social and environmental issues. Plus, you get to see new cultures, and there is usually some time to kick back and relax while making new friends.
One doesn’t have to go foreign to participate in an Alternative Spring Break. Many organizations offer more local (and less expensive) options. Some clubs go to National Parks and Monuments, and others team up with organizations like Americorps and Habitat for Humanity. MTV is sponsoring Storm Corps in 2006 for those who want to visit the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast and help with rebuilding and clean-up efforts.
Spring Break is definitely a time to forget about the rigors of academic life. However, it is possible to forget the rigors by involving yourself in service to others. You can travel to a new place, meet new people, and enjoy a new cultural scene. And because nearly all Alternative Spring Breaks take place in warm and sunny climates, you’ll still get a tan.