Your usual college spring break vacation conjures images of beaches, sand, sun, and little sleep. But let’s face it, your usual spring break madness isn’t for everyone. If you’d rather do something more constructive during the upcoming mid-semester break, you should take a closer look at something called voluntourism, a philanthropic way to see the United States or the world while making a difference. If that sounds like your cup of tea, check out these four voluntourism alternatives to your run-of-the-mill spring break. But act quickly, because these alternative spring break vacations fill up fast.
Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge
The Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge offers week-long programs across the United States that encourage college students to help build homes for those who are less fortunate. During the week of March 25, 2012, for example, the Collegiate Challenge is building homes in Birmingham, Ala., Fort Smith, Ark., Washington, D.C., Punta Gorda, Fla., and Des Moines, Iowa. Other weeks are also available. All week-long home-building stints are open to volunteer groups, with a minimum age of 16, for $150–$500 each, which includes accommodations and meals.
United Way National Alternative Spring Break
The United Way National Alternative Spring Break offers a way for socially-minded college students to trade swim trunks for tool belts and lend a helping hand to U.S. communities that could use one. The organization offers reconstruction and philanthropic projects in Michigan, Indiana, and along the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast. The program costs $250 and volunteers are responsible for their own transportation.
Earthwatch College and University Groups
The Earthwatch College and University Groups voluntourism program offers ecological conservation projects, archeological digs, and education field work at sites all over the planet. Volunteers are trained and mentored by field scientists and offered a chance to connect with peers from research institutions around the world.
Cross-Cultural Solutions Insight Abroad
Cross-Cultural Solutions, a international volunteering organization, offers an alternative spring break program called Insight Abroad that lets college students travel, have fun, and give back at the same time. Students will work side-by-side with in-country staff on local improvement projects. The organization’s in-country staff handles lodgings, meals and bottled water, local transportation, and travel medical insurance. Students can choose from several locations around the world and can even choose start dates that match with their particular spring breaks.