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Campus Life

Alternative Spring Break Wants You

Faculty and staff chaperones needed

Staffers at the Community Service Center hope that this year, 20 faculty and staff members will choose to spend spring break in an exotic location, chaperoning a group of undergraduates on the trip of a lifetime.

It’s not insanity, says program coordinator Sara DeRitter; it’s ASB.

ASB, or Alternative Spring Break, is a 19-year-old program that sends BU students to perform community service at sites all over the country during spring break. This year, volunteers will go to a record 20 sites — up from 12 last year — where they’ll work with organizations whose focus ranges from homelessness to HIV and AIDS support. And each trip needs a chaperone to handle the funds, support the student coordinators, and pitch in.

“Chaperones are expected to do the same service as any volunteer,” DeRitter says. “They’re there to help and enjoy spring break.”

Any salaried faculty or staff member at the University can apply to be a chaperone; some teaching fellows and senior resident advisors may also be eligible. The position comes with some responsibilities: chaperones handle the group’s expenses, step in in case of emergencies, and promote the University’s zero-tolerance policy regarding drugs and alcohol. But for the most part, DeRitter says, the experience is just about volunteering. And student coordinators say there’s no reason to anticipate conflict or behavior problems on the trip. “These students are already known to the sites we volunteer at throughout the greater Boston area as the best,” says Michael D’Emic (CAS’06), an ASB coordinator. “Now, we’re seeing the same thing on a national level.”

This year volunteers can work with children in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Dakota; help environmental awareness groups in Florida and Kentucky; promote HIV and AIDS awareness in Alabama; work with people with disabilities in Arkansas, Georgia, and Tennessee; or build homes in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.

The accommodations, which range from campgrounds to community centers, aren’t luxurious, nor are the travel arrangements. “We’re driving in 15-passenger vans,” DeRitter warns. Although signing on for ASB means a week of work, those who’ve volunteered in the past have found that it’s a rejuvenating experience.

“It really is amazing,” DeRitter says. “They reenergize you.”

Participants in this year’s trip will leave campus on Saturday, March 4, and return on Sunday, March 12. Applications for chaperones are due in mid-November. For more information, contact ASB at altbreak@bu.edu.