Upcoming Alternative Break Trips - Applications for 2018 spring break trips are now available. Trips will run Saturday March 24 through Saturday March 31, 2018.

Apply for alternative break! Priority deadline is Monday, November 27, 2017. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until all three trips are full.

Read what past Alternative Break participants have said about their experiences:

  • “I am amazed, intrigued, and humbled. I will forever hope to continue to grow and open my mind in the way I did on this trip.”
  • “I have formed new relationships with incredible people, have been inspired to be more independent, walked away with more knowledge about life on reservations, and a commitment to make a positive influence in my community.”

Change, Not Coins: Housing & Food Insecurity in San Francisco, California

Trip Fee: $100 (includes 4 dinners and light breakfast) 

Explore the complex, multi-faceted factors at play impacting hunger and homelessness in San Francisco and learn about homelessness issues in major urban areas including the short-term relief and long-term solutions that are being worked for and envisioned. Participants will complete service projects centered on addressing hunger and homelessness while meeting and working alongside local visionaries who actively address these issues in their communities. If you have an interest in learning about homelessness issues in major urban areas, this is the perfect trip for you. The trip will include hands-on direct service work with people experiencing homelessness from diverse backgrounds such as preparing and serving meals. We will also complete indirect service projects, such as facility improvements and assisting organizations prepare for fundraisers, gaining behind the scenes awareness and understanding of organizations that address homelessness. On our community immersion day, we will explore San Francisco and all that it has to offer! 

Note:   Lodging will be in a hostel. Trip fee includes transportation, lodging, 4 community dinners that will be prepared and shared as a group and light breakfast, which is included at the hostel.  You will be responsible for your meals on travel days as well as for purchasing materials to pack your lunch and supplement breakfast.  There will be a community kitchen available to prepare breakfast, pack a lunch, and cook dinner. You also will be responsible for paying public transportation fees that will total approximately $16 for the week.


Tangled Roots: History, Land Use, & Cultural Engagement in Yakima, Washington

Trip Fee: $100  (includes 4 dinners)

Uncover the human face and human cost of land acquisition, colonization, and immigration by exploring the influx and interplay of different cultural groups in the Yakima valley by working with the Native American Reservation, Yakama Nation, Latinx migrant workers, and the City of Yakima.  Through direct service work, we will expose the buried roots of the area’s historical relationship to the land and explore implications for the present and future of different cultural groups in the region.  We will see first-hand the human impact and cost of land acquisition and immigration in the pursuit of the "American dream”. During our trip we will work with different populations. We’ll help to teach English language skills to recent Latinx migrant workers, assist with afterschool children’s programs in an American Indian housing community, complete projects alongside members of the community experiencing homelessness, and even work on the land ourselves. The trip begins with an in depth look into the history of Yakama Nation via a visit to the Yakama Nation Cultural Heritage Center. During our community immersion day, the group will elect outings to a beautiful hike/park, a community festival, the Allied Arts Center, Yakima Valley Museum, or Yakima Area Arboretum.

Note: Lodging will be in a local farmhouse (Campbell Farm, a Christian ministry, small conference and retreat center, and working farm on the Yakama Indian Reservation, has offered discounted lodging based on their support of the mission of alternative break. The trip is not faith-based and the lodging space is welcoming and affirming to students of diverse faith backgrounds and LGBTQ+ identities). Trip fee includes transportation, lodging, and 4 community dinners that will be prepared and shared together as a group.  You will be responsible for your meals on travel days as well as for purchasing materials for breakfast and to pack your lunch. There will be a community kitchen available to prepare breakfast, pack a lunch, and cook dinner.


Digging Deeper: Environmental Conservation, Restoration, & Justice in Ashland, Oregon          

Trip Fee: $100 (includes 4 dinners)

Discover the pressing environmental conservation and restoration issues in Ashland, Oregon area. Participants will complete environmental restoration projects such as creek restoration, planting native species, mulching, invasive species removal, fertilizing, trail building/maintenance, and restoring bird habitats with a variety of community organizations. Participants will meet with local environmental leaders to learn about threats to the natural environment and local legislation that is impacting natural habitats and ecosystems. Lodging will be at a local ranch, Willow-Witt, focused on sustainable farming which will add to participants’ exploring of holistic sustainability. This trip will include many hands-on, physical projects and possible hikes in the beautiful Pacific Northwest outdoors. Participants will need to provide and have rain jackets, rain pants, and work boots for this trip to ensure comfort. On our community immersion day, we will explore Ashland, go hiking, and/or possibly attend a play at the local Shakespeare Festival.

Note: This trip is one day shorter than the other trips (March 24th to 30th). Trip fee includes transportation, lodging, 4 community dinners that will be prepared and shared together as a group. You will be responsible for your meals on travel days as well as for purchasing materials for breakfast and to pack your lunch. There will be a community kitchen available to prepare breakfast, pack a lunch, and cook dinner. Lodging will be at a sustainable, zero energy ranch. Sleeping preferences will be collected on a trip information form after trip selection.


Note: As part of the Alternative Break experience, you may be asked to sleep in a mixed gendered room/environment. If you have concerns or would like more information, please contact Erin McIlraith, Civic Engagement Coordinator, at mcilraie@oregonstate.edu or 541-737-6870 and we will do our best to meet sleeping preferences and needs.

Alternative Breaks can be physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging as a result of the immersive nature of the trips and completing service projects, often requiring physical labor and reflection activities over the course of a 5 to 6 day period. Participants are asked and encouraged to take responsibility for their wellbeing and experience during the trip by planning ahead and making needs known to the team and trip leaders.


Deposit and Trip Fees

Every participant is responsible for paying the trip fee; trip costs are above. Trip costs cover four dinners and food staples for travel meals, breakfast, and lunch. You are responsible for supplementing these travel meals, breakfast, and lunch. 

Please note that there is the ability for applicants to apply for Alternative Break Travel Grants. The Alternative Break Travel Grant Program is a financial need-based grant awarded to students applying to an alternative break trip sponsored by the Center for Civic Engagement. The travel grants are administered and awarded through the Human Services Resource Center. The purpose of the Alternative Break Travel Grants is to reduce accessibility barriers related to financial need for students wanting to participate in an immersive service-learning experience. This is a separate application available online that should be submitted at the time of your Alternative Break program application.

Trip offers will be made before winter break and if selected, you must accept your spot via email within a week to hold your spot.  Thus, please be sure the email address you supply is one that you will be checking regularly. You will have winter break to fundraise if you wish. The Center for Civic Engagement will provide fundraising ideas and resources to you.  A non-refundable trip deposit of 50% of the total trip fee will be due by Friday, January 19, 2018.

Checks or money orders need to be made payable to “Center for Civic Engagement—MSICCE” and dropped off the Student Experience Center Information Desk. In the memo line, please write your name, AB, and the location/city for your trip. Final payment due dates will be communicated after trip selections have been made. Participants may also pay by cash or credit card at the Student Experience Center Information Desk.

Trip Refund and Cancellation Policy: The trip deposit is non-refundable. If you have extenuating, unexpected medical, academic, or family/personal circumstances that are out of your control and need to cancel from the trip, you may be reimbursed for any expenses that the Center for Civic Engagement can recover. The emergency must arise before the trip starts to receive any refund. Students will be asked to provide a signed request for any partial refund that summarizes the extenuating circumstances. Please communicate any need to cancel as soon as possible so we can work with you. If you are or the Center for Civic Engagement is able to identify a replacement participant that meets trip criteria, a full refund may be possible.

Benefits AND GAINS of participating in an Alternative Break:

  • Engage in meaningful service to impact change related to an issue one cares about
  • Explore one's values and beliefs regarding the ethics of service
  • Learn about and reflect upon the complexity and interconnectedness of social issues and problems
  • Improve leadership, problem-solving, critical thinking, and dialogue skills in dynamic real world contexts
  • Learn about options for continuing community engagement upon your return to OSU
  • Build meaningful relationships and a new community of civic-minded OSU students
  • Travel to and learn about regional communities
  • Learn about and explore new perspectives
  • Develop skills in negotiating multiple perspectives, viewpoints, and stakeholders’ interests in decision making and actions
  • Develop an increased capacity to work across differences to build community
  • Gain valuable experience for your resume and future professional or educational pursuits
  • Learn about yourself, challenge yourself, and have fun!
  • Learning outcomes and goals for all trips fall into the following categories:
    • Communication
    • Collaboration & Team Work
    • Civic Engagement & Social Responsibility (knowledge, skills, values, efficacy, commitment)
    • Critical & Systems Thinking
    • Empathy & Respect for Diversity
    • Social Justice & Global Perspectives
    • Sense of Place
    • Change Agent Skills

Participant Expectations:

  • Participate in ALL pre- and post-trip meetings (there will be 3 pre-trip meetings and 1 post-trip meeting) and all group educational and teambuilding activities to the best of one's ability.
  • Support the mission of Alternative Break as a program that is focused on immersive community-engaged learning experiences centered on personal growth and leadership development through community projects, education sessions, reflection, and teambuilding; this experience is not a vacation or site seeing experience.
  • Be open to processing (at your own comfort level) the Alternative Break experience individually and as a group through organized reflection, journaling, and other activities that suit your reflection preferences.
  • Serve as a positive role model and representative of Oregon State University while on and off campus.
  • Be respectful of diverse community and cultural norms and values (cultural humility) that you may experience in community and/or with members of the Alternative Break team; expect to learn and be challenged.
  • Commit to being an active contributor to your team and show respect for fellow team members, community partners, and populations with whom you are completing projects.
  • Be willing to explore diverse perspectives, opinions and to advance cultural competency and sensitivity.
  • Adhere to OSU Student Conduct Code on trip.
  • Embrace experiences working independently as well as with a team or group.
  • Be organized, self-motivated, adaptable, and flexible.
  • Take responsibility for personal needs and wellbeing including communicating needs to trip leaders.
  • Refrain from the use or possession of alcohol or any controlled substance/drugs for the duration of the experience.
  • Sign an Alternative Break learning agreement.

Participant Eligibility:

  • Must be a currently enrolled OSU student
  • Must be paying student fees at the Corvallis campus
  • Must be in good university standing (academic and student conduct)


For questions regarding Alternative Break Trips, please contact Erin McIlraith, Civic Engagement Coordinator, at mcilraie@oregonstate.edu or 541-737-6870.

If accommodations for disability are needed in order to participate in the trip, please contact Erin McIlraith at mcilraie@oregonstate.edu or 541-737-6870, preferably one month in advance due to the immersive nature of the experience.