BHSU News & Events

Alternative Spring Break is more than beaches and hot chicks

By Hillary Wittenhagen, Jacket Journal staff writer

Some students spend their spring break on a beach somewhere South. Others spend theirs helping out with children and organizations they believe in. This year marks six years of Black Hills State University students attending the Alternative Spring Break trip.

This year is a little different. Instead of having a set project in advance that interested students can sign up for, students have the opportunity to decide where they want to go as a group.

“Typically a project is presented and students interested in that project sign up, but this year the students will decide as a group first what kind of project they would like to do and then the location,” said Richard Raridon.

Richard Raridon, BHSU’s volunteer coordinator, is leading this trip. Raridon graduated from BHSU in 2007 and spent a year in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) and has since been at BHSU.

The deadline to turn in applications for the trip was Dec. 2. Applications have to be turned in a lot farther in advance because there is still a lot of planning left to do. Students involved in the Alternative Spring Break will have to organize all aspects of the trip, including setting up fundraisers. These students will also be involved in weekly meetings from now until the end of the school year.

“Alternative Spring Break is much more than just the trip itself. This is a service-learning project, meaning that we will meet some educational goals through the service we perform,” said Raridon.

Approximately 20 students have the opportunity to go on these trips. Any more than that would be overwhelming. There needs to be a limit on the amount of students going for many reasons.
“A big part of the trip is working as a team and bonding with the other members of the group. This is very difficult with a group any larger than this,” said Raridon.

It is also difficult to find projects that can handle that many volunteers for an entire week. A small hands-on project works best with a limited number of volunteers. Many things get complicated when more people are involved. It would be harder to find a time and place to meet, book a flight and find accommodations.

Past Alternative Spring Break trips have been to Colorado, Louisiana, Washington and California. Students that participated in these trips have done a variety of things. A few years ago, the trip was to New Orleans to assist with cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina. Another year was spent around Seattle doing environmental work.

“I went on the New Orleans trip as a student, and it completely changed my focus in life and is the reason I continue to do service work. Last year, it was really fun for me to be on the other side of things as a staff member and watch the students come together and grow throughout the experience,” said Raridon.

Dennis Albers, a sophomore from Box Elder, S.D. studying pre-medicine, went on the trip last year to a YMCA camp in the redwoods of California.

“The best part of the trip for me was not only the service work, which was a blast, but also going to a new place with people I had just met a couple months back,” said Albers.
Alexandria Brummond, a junior special education and elementary education major from Plentywood, Mont. also went on the trip last year.

“Being able to work with the fifth grade students… was a great experience for me because of my major. But I had fun doing different activities with the students that were in my cabin,” said Brummond.

Currently, next semester’s Alternative Spring Break is full but anyone looking for more information should contact Richard Raridon at Richard.Raridon@BHSU.edu.

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