Alternative Spring Break is a well-known program here at JMU, but it’s not the only way you can volunteer through the Alternative Break program. The office also offers Thanksgiving, January, May and weekend breaks. 

“Our foundational program is spring break. It’s the one that’s existed the longest, it’s the one that has the most strenuous training program that goes with it,” Misty Newman, Assistant Director of the Alternative Break Program, says. To prepare for the trip, the break leaders take two credit course during the fall semester.

“Once you’ve been a leader of a spring break than you can apply to be a leader for Thanksgiving and January,” Newman says.

Thanksgiving, January and Spring Break all have a similar structure, with two student leads and one faculty member accompanying students to various locations all over the United States, and the world. During Thanksgiving, the APB program only offers domestic driving trips, due to the high cost of flying during that holiday week.

“Our May break is a little bit different structure, and it is one that we have site leaders, and then there’s small group leaders.,” Newman says. Each year, May breaks go exclusively to the Gulf Coast and New Orleans region to assist with Hurricane Katrina clean-up. May Break was created in a direct response to Katrina ten years.

This year, to commemorate the decade long effort to assist the region, the Office of Community Service Learning created Katrina Awareness Week, and is dedicating Thanksgiving to the Gulf Coast region as well.

APB also offers up to a dozen Weekend Breaks a year. “We already have around six on the calendar for this fall,” Newman says.  Weekend Breaks are first come-first serve, and only cost $25 a trip.  You can see the list of upcoming breaks on the APB website.

Those interested in signing up for Spring or January Break can sign up before Sept. 28 on the APB website.  Trips are given on a lottery basis.  You can see the full schedule here.


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