Alternative Breaks

Alternative Break trips provide a unique opportunity for students to participate in an intensive public service experience while increasing their understanding of significant social and environmental problems.

Engaged in direct service relating to these problems, students live and work in communities with which they otherwise may have little contact. Being completely immersed in this environment over an extended period of time allows students to internalize their experience, which can serve as a springboard for a lifelong commitment to social change.

Most trips do have a fee, but need-based financial aid is available to cover up to 80% of trip costs.

How Bowdoin AB Works

Alternative Break trips are organized and led by students who want to provide an intensive learning through service experience. AB leaders are responsible for all aspects of the alternative spring break trip, including recruiting participants, trip logistics, coordinating with the host site, and leading the actual trip.

Leader Selection

AB proposals and leader applications are reviewed each spring for the following year by a committee of students, faculty, and McKeen Center staff. Those leaders whose trips are selected receive support and training from the McKeen Center to plan and implement their AB trips.

Leaders' Seminar

During the fall semester, ASB leaders participate in the Leaders' Seminar, a 10-week course facilitated by the staff of the McKeen Center. This seminar prepares leaders in how to organize and lead their trips and to help student participants examine the political, social, cultural, and economic aspects of their service and the communities in which they will be living. Through this seminar, leaders develop their own seminar which they lead for their trip participants in the spring.

Participants' Seminar

Prior to the trips, participants attend weekly pre-service meetings to prepare them for their service experience. These meetings include background and cultural information about the site, educational visits from Bowdoin professors, reading assignments, film viewing, fundraising, and team-building activities.

During and After the Trip

During the trip, students participate in meaningful service activities, daily reflective sessions, and evening group activities. After returning to campus, students work together to educate the larger Bowdoin community about their issue area and experience.

To participate, ASB leaders must be on campus both semesters, but AWB leaders may be off campus in the spring semester. 

Where and when are the trips?

AB trips can be local, national, or international, and they take place during both Winter and Spring Break.

What are the possibilities? 

All AB trips are proposed, and led, by students. You can propose to build on a past AB trip, or identify a different social issue that you care about and plan something from scratch.

  • Browse our short how-to guide.
    • When you're ready, schedule a meeting with Andrew Lardie to discuss your ideas.
  • The trip leader application is in two parts.
    • The Individual Leader App Form and the Trip Proposal Form are now live on the web.
  • Trip Leader Applications are due.
    • Wednesday, April 25, 2019 at 5:00PM

Alternative Breaks 2018-2019