Alternative Break Trip Leader Information, Application, & Interest Form

Alternative Break Logo

Thank you for your interest in being an Alternative Break (AB) leader!  

All applications will be carefully reviewed by a selection committee comprised of professional faculty and students who are involved in the alternative break programs and applicants will be communicated with by the first week of November.  Alternative Break leaders can take on various levels of responsibility; each trip will have two leaders.

Program Description

Alternative Break programs are week long community-engaged learning experiences designed to heighten participants’ awareness of critical social issues, enhance their individual growth, and prepare them for social action. Each experience integrates service via direct community projects, reflection, and educational activities that focus on topics such as poverty, food insecurity, environmental restoration, education, and healthcare. Trips are offered throughout the year in regional destinations. Please review the Alternative Break program webpage as well as our three spring break programs and our zero week program to learn more trip details and about the program's guiding principles.

Application Requirements 

Please submit your completed application for full consideration no later than 5pm on Monday, October 30, 2017. We will be accepting applications on a rolling basis until all positions are filled.

Questions? Contact Erin McIlraith, Civic Engagement Coordinator, at or 541-737-6870.

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

Benefits and gains of participating in an Alternative Break trip:

  • 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 communities
  • 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

Trip Leader (and Participant) Expectations:

  • Participate in ALL pre- and post-trip meetings (there will be 3 before and 1 after the trip) 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 humilty) 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.


Alternative Break Trip Leader Role

Possible learning outcomes for Alternative Break interns and project credit students:

  • Comprehend and learn about strategies and best practices for creating and leading co-curricular service trips that balance student learning and community benefits.
  • Design and coordinate meaningful community service programs by applying the critical components of service, action continuum, and active citizen continuum.
  • Develop curriculum development and meeting facilitation skills through pre-trip meeting curriculum and agenda creation to prepare participants for trip.
  • Develop facilitation skills for group development, meetings, and reflections before, during, and after the trip.
  • Gain leadership and group development skills in forming a cohesive and effective alternative break team.
  • Explore and utilize theory and best practices for leading student groups in cultural and social justice learning experiences.
  • Expand understanding of student development theory in practice as it realtes to student participation in civic engagement and service.
  • Advance program management and risk management skills through managing site logistics and developing trip itinerary.
  • Develop budget management skills through administering the trip budget through budget tracking and paperwork to ensure purchases adhere to OSU policy.
  • Advance assessment and evaluation skills through developing learning outcomes for trip and assessment and evaluation tools.
  • Track carbon footprint through provided resources and develop sustainability practices with participants.
  • Increase understanding of the practical use of student development theories as they apply to community service programming and social responsibility development.

Trip Leader Role may include:

  • Meet with Center for Civic Engagement staff bi-weekly or weekly from late fall to early spring term for check-ins and support in trip planning
  • Attend AB leader training workshops to better prepare for the trip leader role (approximately four 1.5-2 hour trainings)
  • Build community among team before, during, and after the trip
  • Facilitate pre-trip meetings and post-trip reunion/reflection meeting to provide necessary orientation and context for successful trip (identity-based, social issue, and service-learning reflection and education)
  • Plan daily reflection, dialogic, and/or processing activities for trip
  • Lead or facilitate daily service projects and educational/reflective sessions
  • Create and implement assessment and evaluation of the trip
  • Drive the van on the trip
  • Facilitate group decision making about logistics, meal times, sustainability practices, free time activities, etc.
  • Take the lead in case of an emergency to ensure safety and wellbeing of participants to maximum extent possible (SLI staff will be on-call to support and provide counsel/advice as needed)
  • Work collaboratively as a team member and with your co-lead; maintain consistent and clear communication with your co-lead
  • Lead group through daily agenda and address issues and logistics concerns that may arise
  • Take care of oneself and the well-being of team members
  • Lead by example, be positive, have fun
  • Host a post-trip gathering/reflective meeting

Becoming an Alternative Break trip leader is a significant responsibility.  Before submitting this form, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you passionate about the social issue you plan to address?
  • Are you highly organized?
  • Do you feel comfortable leading others, sometimes in stressful and/or tense situations?
  • Do you have the time to commit to preparing for and leading a trip?
  • Are you capable of working or “being on” up to 12 hour days during the length of the trip?
  • Do you have other significant, time-consuming responsibilities this winter/spring that could conflict with planning or leading a trip?
  • Does your schedule allow for the required dates of the program?
What term and year is your anticipated graduation?
Do you have a valid driver’s license?
Are you willing to become certified to drive an OSU Motorpool 12-passenger van?
Would you be comfortable participating in manual labor projects (basic construction, painting, cleaning, etc.)?
Would you be comfortable participating in environmental work (gardening, trail maintenance, invasive species removal, etc.)?
Would you be willing to do CPR, AED, and/or First Aid training in preparation for the Alternative Break experience? The training would be paid for.
Commitment Level/Availabilty (1 or 4 project credits available for CSSA graduate students or other students who are enrolled in programs offering practicum or internship credit opportunities for leadership experiences) 1 credit = leading trip 2 credits = leading a trip and small pre and post-trip administrative tasks, committing about 2 hours/week in winter term 3-4 credits = lead in planning the trip, contacting and connecting with organizations, interning/working about 5-6 hours/week in the winter term What is the number of credits you desire (if your academic program offers the opportunity) or amount of time you estimate being able to commit weekly during winter term?
Please rate preference and level of interest for each spring break trip (March 24 to March 31, 2018). Please list the destination (Yakima, Ashland, San Francisco), your rank order between 1 and 3 (1=most interested, 3=least interested), level of interest between 1 and 5 (1=low, 5=high) and a brief explanation for your rank order and level of interest. Environmental Conservation, Restoration, and Justice: Ashland, Oregon Housing and Food Insecurity: San Francisco, California History, Land Use, and Cultural Engagement: Yakima, Washington
Are you interested in co-leading the Zero Week trip? This trip is Native Voices: Indigenous Policy, Cultural Engagement, & Community Wellbeing: Warm Springs, Oregon. The dates will be June 18-22, 2018.
How did you learn about this opportunity?
PERSONAL STATEMENTS: Please thoughtfully respond to each of the following questions in 3 pages or less and attach your personal statements to this form. Leader selection will be heavily dependent upon your personal statements. Please save your file as "Last Name_First Name AB Leader Application 2018." 1.) Briefly tell us why you would like to lead an Alternative Break trip. Also, comment on what you hope to gain (skills, competencies, knowledge, etc.) as a result of the experience. 2.) Describe your previous volunteer, leadership, and/or service experiences. Please list any skills or experiences you have that you feel is relevant to and prepares you for leadership on an Alternative Break trip. 3.) What qualities do you possess that help contribute to being a positive leader and team member? 4.) Tell us about a time when you were faced with diverse opinions and perspectives. How did you respond to these differences? 5.) Describe your experience with facilitating group discussions and reflections. What is your approach to creating brave/safe spaces for dialogue and discussion? 6.) Describe how you would motivate a group to accomplish a collaborative task. 7.) What does social justice mean to you? Describe a time when you demonstrated advocacy for social justice on an individual or group level. 8.) Alternative Break can be a physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging experience. Describe an experience you've had in a similar situation. Describe any experience you have managing physically, mentally, and/or emotionally stressful situations? 9.) What is your approach to building community and fostering relationships when entering new community contexts?
Files must be less than 2 MB.
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RESUME/CV: Please upload a resume/CV with your application that includes relevant employment, leadership, educational, and/or volunteer experiences. REFERENCES: At the end of your resume/CV, please include at least two professional references that can speak your leadership and teamwork experience in additional to your character. Please include name, position/title, organization, phone number, email address, and relation to you.
Files must be less than 2 MB.
Allowed file types: gif jpg jpeg png txt pdf doc docx.
By signing below, I certify that that all application information and my statements are true and complete to the best of my knowledge. I understand that admission to or enrollment in an Oregon State University Alternative Break trip may be denied if any information is found to be incomplete or inaccurate. As a part of the application process I authorize the Center for Civic Engagement to review my student conduct record and share contents with program administrators as necessary. I understand that Oregon State University reserves the right to require the withdrawal of any student on account of unsatisfactory behavior.
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