Alternative opportunities for student breaks.

Sarah Sheathelm

20 October 2021

It is no secret that Alma College prides itself in giving it’s students ample opportunity for travelling and service. One of those is the alternative break program.

Alternative breaks are presented to students to travel or work with nonprofit organizations throughout the duration, or at least some of, their break from classes and extracurricular activities.

With the much anticipated fall break recently behind us, one cannot help but wonder about the experience shared by peers on their alternative breaks and the opportunities presented to them.

There are many different options to choose from, some in nature. “For fall break, I travelled with the climbing club to Red River Gorge, Kentucky,” said Taylor Neeb (‘21). “We camped with fellow rock climbers from all over the United States within the mountain gorge. We hiked into Mire Vally to find beautiful rock walls and cliff faces to climb, as well as catch the morning sunrise.”

Others focus on non-profit organizations. “I went to the Dream Works Resale shoppe in Ithaca,” said Natalie Walsh (‘22). “This non-profit provides social, recreational, and vocational opportunities to people with differing abilities. I worked alongside 2 other peers for the day, helping them organize all the donations they had recently received. This included opening donations, figuring out what was good to keep and what might have been too old or unclean for use.”

There are various reasons students choose to participate. “I decided to go to Kentucky because I am a transfer student, and travelling across the country for four days was not viable.” said Belle Banks (‘25). “So going on an adventure with my club just made sense. I was wary about the eight hour drive, but I discovered that I actually really love road tripping! The scenic views and new friends were amazing.

From the same trip, another student shares their perspective. “I grew up in Kentucky until I was six,” said Neeb. “I was never able to experience the state’s incredible nature. Being able to sleep under the stars in a hammock surrounded by people who share a passion and aspiration to climb was indescribable.

Another reason is faculty influences. “An advisor for one of my clubs, Sheryle Dion, told me that her daughter liked to work there,” said Walsh. “I decided that I would go and see what it was like! There were so many different items offered at a cheap price, and it was a very cute set-up.”

Students who participate encourage their peers to do the same. “Overall, I’m so glad I went,” said Banks. “I’m surprised that more people have not looked into alternative breaks. I feel like I have honestly grown as a person and as a rock climber. Peace, love and Miguel.”

Other students share their longing to adventure back and experience more. “The experience was wonderful,” said Neeb. “While the weather provided trials and tribulations, there was always a

sense of calmness from being outdoors that would eventually settle over, and I hope to go back again to see more of the mountainside and create stronger relationships with other climbers!”

Some share sentiments of being able to give back. “Other than that, it was just a great experience,” said Walsh. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to see another part of our wonderful community!”

Alternative breaks come highly recommended from various students and many are offered for every break Alma College has. There is an opportunity for all to enjoy.

The rewarding feeling of being able to give back to the community or travel is one that will impact each student positively. Whether travelling or working locally, there are breaks for all students to find interest in.

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