American Hiking Society’s Alternative Breaks are volunteer trail stewardship projects in America’s parks and forests designed specifically for college student groups. Part volunteer work project, part kick-back outdoor vacation.
Alternative Break crews are generally 8-15 students. Supervision during the project will be provided by our experienced project hosts. Each trip has a group minimum that must be met to secure your group’s week.
Most trips last one week with weekends used for group travel. Alternative Breaks combine day hiking, trail work, exploration, crew camaraderie, and FUN into a weeks time and are scheduled for your student group to participate during your school break. Never been hiking or done trail work before? We welcome you! Alternative Breaks don’t require any prior trail work experience, just a good attitude and a willingness to get a little dirty!
Lodging options vary depending on the trip you choose. Alternative Breaks will offer either indoor accommodations (bunkhouses, cabins, lodges) or access to a campground site where you bring your own tent and camping supplies. All location will offer access to indoor bathrooms and either a full service kitchen or camp cooking gear for meal prep.
Make new friends and share laughter over a campfire. Experience an amazing sense of accomplishment after building a bridge or restoring a neglected trail. Connect with the land. Experience nature first-hand. Spend your break doing something that makes a lasting difference.
What if I have never worked on a trail before? How much experience is necessary?
We welcome you! Our Alternative Breaks are a fun way to learn new things and most do not require any prior experience. All of our projects do require participants to be in good physical condition. Please read the project descriptions carefully and choose one that fits your group’s experience level.
How much does an Alternative Break cost and what is included?
Alternative Break registration is $185 per student and includes:
- 1-Year Membership with American Hiking
- Exclusive Volunteer T-Shirt
- Indoor lodging or campsite reservation
- Trip Planning Guidance
- Meal Planning Guidance
- Project supervision
- Use of tools and safety equipment
Alternative Break crews are responsible for paying for travel to and from the project location and for food. American Hiking is a non-profit organization. The registration fee helps offset the costs associated with coordinating our alternative break trips and ensures that we can recruit and send hardworking groups to assist our project hosts with their trail needs. Our volunteers also are exempt from paying park entrance fees, campground fees and backcountry permit fees.
4. How large are the groups (or crew)?
Alternative Break crews are generally 8 to 15 volunteers.
5. What is the basic itinerary for an Alternative Break?
Most trips last one week with weekends used for travel. A typical day will include a hearty breakfast, trail work for 5-7 hours (enjoy lunch on the trail!) and a return to camp for a well-deserved dinner and evening of relaxing around the campfire or cabin. All trips will include free time to hike, get to know your fellow crew members, and explore the area.
6. What types of accommodations are available?
Accommodations vary, depending on the trip you choose. Options include car-camping campsites, bunkhouses, cabins, or dormitories. Most Alternative Breaks will offer indoor lodging either in a cabin, lodge, or dormitory. Typically these facilities will include a cots/bunk beds, full kitchen, bathroom(s), and running water. Please read the accommodations description for the trip location you are interested in to see what is provided.
7. How are meals handled?
Most Alternative Break groups prepare meals together or set up a meal preparation schedule. Group cooking gear will be provided for the crew by the host. The purchase and payment of food is the responsibility of the volunteer group- food is not included in the registration fee.
8. How does my group get to the project site?
Most Alternative Break groups drive to their project location.
9. Can I participate in an Alternative Break as an individual?
Each Alternative Break has a group minimum that must be met to secure your group’s week. If you want to volunteer over your break as an individual, see all the trips we are offering as part of our year-round Volunteer Vacations program that are open for individual registration.
2016 ALTERNATIVE BREAKS
PLEASE NOTE: Alternative Breaks are intended for college student groups. If you are interested in participating in a service trip as an individual, our 2016 Volunteer Vacations schedule will be released in early December.
Buffalo National River, Arkansas
Host: National Park Service