Searching for greener pastures: accounting for cost of spring break plans

Contributing Writer
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Many Allegheny students plan to head to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to relax during spring break without spending a lot of money. DESIGN BY KATIE MCHUGH.

Cost is the largest impediment to a student’s imagination when he or she plans to turn a single week of spring break into the adventure of a lifetime.

A vision of sunny beaches and wild nights is appealing, until it’s contrasted with the rapid disappearance of cold hard cash. Many students are working to make the most of their seven days off while keeping their finances under control.

For one group of students, spring break means a chance to escape Meadville’s inconsistent and often miserable weather.

William Tolliver ‘14, is headed to Myrtle Beach, S.C. with friends for sun and surf on the cheap.
“Between the five of us, the price for the whole five days down there is approximately $100. Although that does not include food or activities you want to do, $100 for getting there, getting back and having a place to stay is an awesome deal,” he said.

Tolliver did his best to plan the ultimate spring break trip without breaking the bank.

“If you just keep looking and don’t settle for the first option, you can find a good bang for your buck,” he said.

But not all students are answering the ocean’s call. Instead, some students will devote their spring break to a higher calling: serving communities. Approximately 40 students will be spending their breaks across the United States as part of one of the five offered Alternative Spring Breaks.

The 2012 trips will take place in communities from New Orleans to New York. ASB participants pay a fee that covers housing and food, and each trip costs $125. The New Orleans adventure requires an additional $400 expenditure for transportation.

The cost of an ASB trip is well worth it, according to Ian Colley, ’13.

“I do ASB because it gives one the opportunity to explore a community with which they might not be familiar, but one with overlooked gifts and beneficial experiences,” Colley said.

“The idea of engaging the community through service seems especially valuable because of the reciprocity and the mutualistic relationship it creates.”

Ben Ho, ’14, is preparing for his ASB trip to Buffalo.

“I’m very positive that it will be a very fulfilling experience and I look forward to the opportunities I will have to cultivate the heart of a servant leader.”

Ho finds the $125 fee to be a manageable one.

Apart from an ASB trip, there are other avenues for combining spring break and service. Zeben Ashton ’12, is heading out to L.A. with nine other Hillel students with Progressive Jewish Alliance and Jewish Funds for Justice.

The 10 Alleghenians will dedicate their week to helping out homeless people and working on sustainable gardening projects.

An added bonus is the opportunity to meet Jewish Alumni.

The trip’s initial cost for the 11 people to stay seven days was $11,000.

A fundraising strategy has been used to cover the costs, and only $3,000 remains to be raised.

Half of the funds are going directly to the Jewish Funds for Justice Organization and thus into the LA community organizations the students will be working with. The rest of the money will be directed towards the travel costs of the trip.

Ashton is pleased with the fact that the trip will basically cost nothing for him, and he’s looking forward to spending time on the West Coast helping people with a tight knit group of students.

All in all, every student finds that his or her money is well spent on spring break trips, whether they travel to serve other communities or to take a break from classes altogether.