Reacting to the stalled economy, the Alternative Winter and Spring Break programs are giving students more choices in domestic destinations for the service trips and helping them find creative ways to fund their trips.
Though the number of participants in Alternative Winter and Spring Break programs remains the same as last year, more students than ever are asking about scholarship opportunities, payment options and fundraising, according to Melissa Gaeke, director of Alternative Spring Break.
Gaeke said the Alternative Winter and Spring Break programs are doing their best to accommodate possible participants who are concerned about the cost of the trips in order to ensure a successful spring break for all who are interested.
Already, Gaeke said, fundraising efforts have increased.
“We are doing a lot more fundraising this year. The fundraising has been done through places like California Pizza Kitchen, 21 Choices and Yogurtland,” said Gaeke. “We’re trying any way to reduce the cost as much as possible for the students and their families.”
To keep costs down, Alternative Spring Break is also boosting the number of local options offered. Gaeke hopes these local destinations will be more affordable choices for those who think the international service programs are too costly.
Though international programs can cost anywhere from $915 to $2,500, domestic programs range from free trips to ones costing $800.
Alice Hyun, a freshman majoring in business administration, said the new Alternative Spring Break options are a better fit for her budget.
“If cost were not a problem at all, I would have applied to go to an international site, Guatemala, but I’m going to have to apply to a domestic site instead,” Hyun said. “Even though cost is an issue, I still want to do something productive with my spring break.”
Some of the new, domestic programs include a civic leadership program in Atlanta and a program on Catalina Island in partnership with the Wrigley Institute.
Despite the fundraising and increase in domestic destinations, some students still find Alternative Break programs too costly.
“I was considering doing alternative spring break, but extra fundraising can only go so far,” said Ravi Mahesh, a sophomore majoring in economics. “I’m really sad that I can’t do one of the volunteer programs. I’ll probably end up volunteering somewhere closer to home where the costs are less expensive instead.”
Though some students have chosen not to apply, Gaeke emphasized that interest is still strong because people still want to serve the community and to travel.
“The reason students are applying isn’t different,” Gaeke said. “More and more students recognize these are interesting opportunities, want to travel and see parts of the world or the country other than road-tripping with their friends, and learn more about themselves through community service.”