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ALTERNATIVE BREAK

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Do something you’ve never done before.

The Alternative Break program offers college students (generally groups of 10-12) an opportunity to participate in volunteer service on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a week as a counter to “traditional” spring and fall breaks.

Each group of students focuses on a particular Parkway need, such as restoration of a Parkway asset and / or trail construction or maintenance. In addition, students learn about the communities they visit, participate in a community volunteer project (such as volunteering at food banks or studying the local economy / meeting with community leaders) and attend educational activities to learn about the Blue Ridge Parkway regional culture and heritage.

FRIENDS’ Alternative Break Program emphasizes group and individual reflection of the volunteer services provided to the Parkway and the local community. It challenges the students to think critically and react to community issues. Being immersed in diverse environments enables participants to experience, discuss and understand the social and cultural issues of a new area and how those might apply to their own community.

Local news reports on an Alternative Break visit!

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To the students who attend, FRIENDS Alternative Break program means spending your time off in service where you’re needed and having an unforgettable experience. Students from the Virginia Military Institute, Notre Dame University, Vanderbilt University, Shawnee State University and Warren Wilson College have all enjoyed volunteering on the Parkway.
I think the thing that I’ve come to really appreciate and admire during my visit is how much pride the people have for the culture, traditions, customs and, obviously, the Blue Ridge Parkway. I find it incredibly fascinating how passionate everyone is about living here and preserving the environment. Everyone has been so kind and hospitable to us and that is in itself a great reflection of the character of the people here. It’s been such an incredible experience being immersed in the culture and the Parkway.
Christine Ke, Notre Dame
Notre Dame students have cleared and blazed hiking trails, built a new foot bridge and learned to use power tools. At the same time, they enjoyed a new (to some of them) form of entertainment – mountain music and flat-footing.

Vanderbilt students managed to remove a rotted and collapsing split-rail fence and construct a replacement… and worked in some music and hiking as well.

If you’re interested in the Alternative Break program, please contact FRIENDS concerning available opportunities. Once an opportunity has been identified, download and complete the program applications below. You may return the applications by post or e-mail.
Please note that as a program requirement, all participants are asked to provide FRIENDS with either a paper reflecting on their experiences or a group video on the value of their experiences. FRIENDS would like to know – How did your experiences affect your commitment to active citizenship and stewardship?
A FEW DETAILS

Download our Alternative Break Program brochure.

Group Size. The size of the group that can be accepted for a particular spring or fall break program is driven by the type of open projects and the size of the available lodging facilities. If you have a time frame in mind, please contact FRIENDS for what project options are available.

Cost. The cost of the program varies, please contact FRIENDS to work with you on an estimate.

Participants are responsible for their own transportation to the site and daily transportation along the Blue Ridge Parkway. In addition, there is a fee that is paid to FRIENDS for the week which covers the cost of food, housing and miscellaneous other expenses associated with the week’s experiences. FRIENDS works with each group to minimize this cost and in the past it has been reduced to $150-$300 with the variation due to differences in available lodging facilities, meal plan, etc.

Gear. FRIENDS will provide guidance once your program has been set up. Gear needs will vary with the time of year and the type of project your group will be taking on. If the lodging for your program is at one of the various Parkway campgrounds, participants are required to provide their own camping gear including tent, sleeping bag and all personal gear like flash lights, dish/cup and utensils.

FRIENDS will provide the tools for whatever project is undertaken.

Sample Gear List