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The Role of a Break Leader

All alternative breaks are led by two student co-leaders to balance out the work, generate more ideas and create a support network. As a leader, you and your co-leader will be responsible for developing the logistics of your break, developing a strong sense of community within your break participants, as well as creating pre and post educational meetings. Break leaders learn to fulfill many roles:

  • Motivator - Passionate about service and the experience
  • Coordinator - Organized, task-oriented
  • Teacher - Supportive challenging, patient, dynamic
  • Learner - Open-minded, critical thinking, reasoning skills
  • Crisis Manager - Adaptable, flexible
  • Counselor - Dependable, approachable, intuitive

By attending the weekly spring break leader training meetings, you will learn how to create an amazing alternative break experience for you and your group members.

Break leaders make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of JMU students and the communities in which they serve. It could be you!


As a break leader, you will be an ambassador for the Alternative Break program and are expected to help us communicate the mission and goals of the program to students and community members.

Every Alternative Break follows a similar structure and expectation set:

  • community living
  • alcohol and drug free
  • strong direct service

Alternative Breaks partners JMU students with communities in need around the world to improve the quality of life, understanding, and learning for all involved. Students who participate in this program cultivate social responsibility, leadership, and life-long learning; thereby fostering a generation of leaders committed to positive social change.

Spring Break leaders are required to attend all break leader training sessions (held for 2 hours weekly during the fall semester and 3-4 in the dpring semester.)

Your Learning Partner

Each break offers the support of a faculty or staff learning partner. Learning Partners are not part of the planning team; however, they serve in various other ways on the break:

  • Adding educational value to the break by identifying "teachable moments"
  • Bring a mature influence to encourage students to make wise decisions
  • Acting as a resource for break leaders by providing advice and/or support
  • Serve as the legal representative of JMU for the trip in case of accident or emergency

How to be a Break Leader

Weekend Break Leaders

Weekend Break Leaders lead break within 200 miles of JMU for the weekend (Friday-Sunday). If you are interested in becoming a Weekend Break Leader, download and submit a Weekend Break Leader Application.

Spring Break Leaders

Spring Break Leaders are chosen through a selection process that varies slightly depending on whether or not the break is international or domestic. To be considered for a position, leaders must meet all deadlines and exhibit strong organizational skills. If you are interested in becoming an International Break Leader, download and submit a Spring Break leader application and make sure to fill out the International Leader section on the application. Applications are are due in mid-April. 

If you are interested in leading an Alternative Spring Break, download and submit a Spring Break Leader application. Previous alternative break program experience is not required to apply.

If proposing a new break, leaders must ensure they will:

  • Meet agency needs
  • Provide a balance among social issues (We wouldn't want 10 breaks focusing on the same social issue)
  • Offer a safe environment for the break participants

To propose a new Spring Break, download and submit the break proposal form.

Thanksgiving Break Leaders

Thanksgiving Break Leaders are veteran break leaders who have already gone through Spring Break leader training. Potential leaders apply for positions in mid-April and work to plan their break during the summer break.

January Break Leaders

January Break Leaders are veteran break leaders who have already gone through spring break leader training. Potential leaders apply for positions in mid-April and work to plan their break during the summer.

May Break Leaders

The small groups will consist of 7-9 participants and two Small Group Leaders—one student and one faculty/staff. In addition there are four Site Leaders—two students and one to two faculty/staff member(s). The Site Leaders are responsible for the overall development and supervision of the break as well as all communication with the host agency. Overall there will be 50-60 participants on the break.

If you are interested in becoming a May Break Leader, download and submit the May Break Small Group Leader application.

May Small Group Leaders

  • Preparation and development of your small group
    • Meet with your group a minimum of 4 times before the break
    • Conduct team building activities
    • Communicate expectations and answer questions
    • Provide educational materials and activities before the trip
    • Be the liaison between your small group and the site leader; providing and gathering information as needed
    • Conduct reflection sessions with your small group while on-site
    • Supervise your small group while on-site
  • Meetings and events (some of these may take place outside of the 8-5 work day)
    • Attend planning and/or training meetings (approximately 3)
    • Participate in the pre-break meetings (Community & Letter Writing and Community Send-Off) where all participants will be in attendance
    • Participate in fundraising efforts and facilitate participation in these efforts among your small group
    • Assist in the planning and preparation of the break as needed by the Site Leaders
  • Benefits
    • Small group leaders will not be required to pay the $100 deposit towards the total trip cost
    • Get to know a fabulous group of JMU folks.
    • Engage in a meaningful and powerful service-learning experience!

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