The Eight Components of a Quality Alternative Break
Break Away® is committed to helping schools and organizations implement alternative break programs that far exceed typical volunteer vacations. Break Away teams spend months preparing for their experience by educating themselves about the social issues and the community in which they will be serving, while also teambuilding, fundraising, and planning logistics.
Break Away established the following elements an alternative break program should incorporate in order to exceed the typical volunteer vacation experience and move its participants down the path toward lifelong active citizenship. Each of the following components is vital to providing a quality break experience: without one, the impact is lessened; with all of them developed thoroughly, there is no limit to the power of your alternative break experience. Through our innovative Alternative Break Citizenship schools (ABCs), Site Leader Retreats, and membership program, Break Away provides the knowledge and support necessary to successfully implement the eight components, in addition to the logistical necessities of alternative breaks.
Strong Direct Service:
Programs provide an opportunity for participants to engage in direct or "hands-on" service that addresses critical but unmet social needs.
Participants are oriented to the mission and objectives of both the break program and the host agency or organization with which they will be working.
Programs establish and achieve educational objectives to give participants a sense of context and understanding of both the region in which they will be working and of the problems they will be addressing during the break.
Participants are provided with adequate training in skills necessary to carry out tasks and projects during the trip. Ideally this training should take place prior to departure, although in some instances it may occur once participants have reached their site.
During the trip, participants reflect upon the experiences they are having. Applying classroom learning and integrating many academic disciplines should also occur. The site leaders should set aside time for reflection to take place, both individually and in a group setting.
Upon return to campus, there should be a re-orientation session for all participants where they can share their break experiences with one another and with the greater campus community and are actively encouraged to translate this experience into a life-long commitment to service.
Strong alternative break programs include participants representing the range of students present in the campus community. Coordinators should recruit, design, implement and evaluate their program with this end in mind.
Alcohol and Other Drug Free:
Programs must be aware that issues of legality, liability, personal safety and group cohesion are of concern when alcohol and other drugs are consumed on an alternative break. Programs should provide education and training on alcohol and other drug related issues as well as develop a policy on how these issues will be dealt with on an alternative break.