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The Role of a Trip Leader

All alternative break trips 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 trip, developing a strong sense of community within your trip participants, as well as creating pre and post educational meetings. Trip 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 trip leader training meetings, you will learn how to create an amazing alternative break experience for you and your group members.

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

Expectations

As a trip 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:

  • weeklong group experience
  • 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.

Trip leaders are required to attend all trip leader training sessions (held for 2 hours weekly from mid-October until mid-March)

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 trip:

  • Adding educational value to the trip by identifying "teachable moments"
  • Bring a mature influence to encourage students to make wise decisions
  • Acting as a resource for trip 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 Trip Leader

Spring Break Trip Leaders

Spring Break Trip Leaders are chosen through a selection process that varies slightly depending on whether or not the trip is international or domestic.

International Trip Leaders

International leader applications are due mid-April. To be considered for a position, leaders must meet all deadlines and exhibit strong organizational skills, as well as possess a strong understanding of the challenges of working in an international community.

If you are interested in becoming an International Trip Leader, download and submit an International Trip Leader application. Previous alternative break program experience is not required to apply.

Domestic Trip Leaders

Domestic leader applications are are due in mid-September. To be considered for a position, leaders must meet all deadlines and exhibit strong organizational skills, as well as possess a strong understanding of the alternative break philosophy.

If you are interested in becoming an Domestic Trip Leader, download and submit a Domestic Trip Leader application. Previous alternative break program experience is not required to apply.

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

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

To propose a new International Trip, download and submit the International Trip Proposal Form. To propose a new Domestic Trip, download and submit the Domestic Trip Proposal Form.

Thanksgiving Break Trip Leaders

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

January Break Trip Leaders

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

May Break Trip 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 trip as well as all communication with the host agency. Overall there will be 50-60 participants on the trip.

If you are interested in becoming a May Break Trip 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 trip
    • 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-trip 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 trip 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!