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american hiking society alt break

Alternative Breaks

What are Alternative Breaks?

Alternative Breaks are week-long, immersive service trips that allow students to travel domestically and internationally while providing meaningful service to a variety of nonprofits working to alleviate different social issues intertwining social justice into the programs. 

Alternative Breaks 2024

naz farm newman center

Nazareth Farm, West Virginia

Nazareth Farm is an organization located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia. Their mission is to serve their community through low-income housing repairs and to build a warm and welcoming community on the farm. 

This trip will take place from January 6-13 and transportation will be provided. 

Spots are limited! If you are interested, please contact Maggie Kilpeck [email protected] or Zeke Caldon at [email protected].

asp alt break

Appalachia Service Project, Jonesville, VA

Projects will include: 

  • Roofing – Replacing and repairing roofs can lead to significant improvements, mitigating damage caused by leaks.
  • Drywall – Drywall projects can be ceiling repair, wall repair, or part of a room addition.
  • Siding – Repairing existing siding or installing new siding weatherizes a home from the elements, making it more efficient and reducing utility costs for homeowners.
ahs alt break

American Hiking Society, Natural Bridge State Parks, Virginia National Parks

Projects will include:

  • Improvement of the Thistle Ridge Trail and Blue Ridge Trail systems
  • Improvement of the Cedar Creek Trail
  • Efforts to reroute Buck Hill Trail
  • Project work will involve the installation of blazes along the trail, using 4x4 posts
suny oswego alt break

Staycation, Oswego, NY

  • Partner with local community partners throughout the week
  • Each day of day(s) of work focusing on different needs of our community

Alternative Breaks FAQs

How do I apply for an Alternative Break program?

Alternative Break Program Applications for Spring 2024 will be opening on November 13th, 2023. 

The applications will remain open until February 1st, 2024 or until filled.


*Please note: If you are interested in attending the Nazareth Farm Trip, please reach out directly to Maggie Kilpeck [email protected] or Zeke Caldon at [email protected].

What is the program commitment?

Each program includes 2 pre-trip meetings intended to be used for training, discussion, and preparation with your Alternative Break program group. As with in-person experiences, pre-departure is in preparation for an immersive and short term engagement with community partners that work in the specific theme or social justice issue of the program.

All programs and students work with their group to implement a service, advocacy, or activism project to share their learnings with our broader community post-trip. 

Who is eligible to participate in Alternative Break Programs?

Any undergraduate or graduate student that wants to learn more about domestic and global issues through community development, civic engagement, leadership, and service.

How will I benefit from participating?
  • You will be given the opportunity to connect with a community of peers from across campus and create new friendships and colleagues.
  • These trips will also help you develop and practice personal and group leaderships skills such as active listening, reflection, critical thinking, communication, as well as civic engagement through in-person service.


What should I expect on the trip?
  • Active engagement in personal reflection, listening, small group dialogue, and small group activities.
  • Thought-provoking questions and dialogue around social issues.
  • Making connections between social issues and your academic, personal, professional, or civic life.
  • Learning directly from community leaders and partners.
  • Engaging in direct service alongside community leaders and partners.
  • Participating in meaningful reflections to understand the impacts of community service on social justice.
  • Identifying at least one action step to take towards a social issue you are passionate about in your home community.
If I live on campus do I have to pay for break housing to stay in my dorm?

Students attending Alternative Spring Breaks do not have to pay a Break Housing Fee

Break Housing cost is included in the students residential fee, you will not be charged additional fees for Spring Breaks. 

With questions, please reach out to Residence Life and Housing


How much do Alternative Break programs cost?

Cost depends on the distance and length of time of the direct engagement component of the program. Programs may range from $100-$300.

Program prices normally include transportation, food, lodging, and all activities. 

Is financial assistance available?

Please reach out to [email protected] to learn more about financial aid options and availability.

Why are Alternative Breaks substance free?

Alternative Breaks were founded as an alternative to the typical spring break experience. We believe the use of substances takes away from our goal of being fully present and engaged in our program activities. 

Can students with disabilities go on Alternative Breaks?

The Alternative Break program makes every effort to ensure that students with disabilities can participate successfully in Alternative Break programs. 

Please be aware that we cannot guarantee that facilities or support services will be available at each location in the same range and quality as on SUNY Oswego's campus. 

We encourage students with disabilities to meet with staff at  Accessibility Resources to discuss accommodation needs and identify appropriate sites.

nazareth farm

For the past three semesters, I have been lucky enough to get the opportunity to participate in Alternative Winter Break trips offered through the college. These were very impactful and eye-opening experiences for me. Not only did I get to visit a new place and take part in a fun and different experience, but I also got the chance to meet awesome people and make new friendships that I wouldn’t have otherwise made.

colin petramale 2015

My first experience happened as a junior when we led a trip to Florence, Alabama, and then my second as a senior when we led a trip to New Orleans, LA. The experiences we had were transformative,  the immersion trips helped us discover our solidarity with communities outside of Oswego.