Badger Alternative Breaks heading to Florida, New Orleans


Ciarra Annis

Rebecca Bingham

Badger Alternative Breaks will be sponsoring two trips during February break, one to New Orleans, Louisiana, the other to Silver Springs, Florida. As with all BAB trips, the focus in on community service and social issues

“We are working with the United States Recovery Project to rebuild homes from [Hurricane] Katrina because they still are rebuilding from Katrina down there, which is crazy,” said Rebecca Bingham, Badger Alternative Breaks coordinator and the trip leader for the experience going to New Orleans.

As for the Florida trip, Bingham said the focus will be on animal welfare. “They’re going down to work with Forest Animal Rescue and they’re helping build the habitats for the animals they take in and rescue,” she said.

Bingham described the type of work her trip would be focused on. “These are various people in the community in New Orleans where their houses got destroyed by Katrina,” said Bingham. “So we could be working on anything from a house that needs to be rebuilt completely… doing the framework and putting up the sheetrock and sanding, or we could be putting in new flooring or new windows or anything of that nature. It’s any community member in New Orleans. It’s usually a disabled person, an elderly person or someone that’s not financially secure.”

The trips usually rely on fundraising efforts for their participants to make up travel costs, room and board. Fundraisers in the past have been selling organic seeds, selling grilled cheese in the residence halls and renting a student to help you with yard or house work.

“This year the disaster relief in New Orleans trip is $800 and the animal welfare is $700,” said Bingham. “It usually depends on where we’re going, how much the flights cost, if we’re flying. We do some international stuff as well so those will be more expensive trips. It all depends on the trip.”

Although these trips cost money and involve travel, they aren’t vacations. Badger Alternative Breaks is a service trip, first and foremost.

“Yes, you do get to travel a little bit, but it’s about the service,” said Bingham. “We are doing a week of direct service in a community, which can be five to eight hours a day. That’s why we really try to say it’s all about service instead of travel but we have had people go on trips just wanting to go for travel. We try to turn their view to ‘oh my gosh, this service is absolutely incredible. We’re helping so many people.”
Started in 1991, BAB is a chapter of the national Break Away nonprofit organization and is sponsored by the SERVE office. The chapter has gone on over 120 service trips in its 28 years. What the trips entail depends on the social issue they encompass and can range from AIDS/HIV Awareness in New York City to Community Integration in Sligoville, Jamaica. Anyone who is interested will be able to apply for next year’s service trips in the fall.

“This is actually my fifth year in this program,” said Bingham. “I did two as a participant, two as a leader, this is my third year leading and I am now the coordinator of the program. It’s an absolutely incredible experience and I think everyone should try it out if they get the chance to. It’s quite the commitment but it’s life changing. You get to work one on one with these communities and get to see different views and different stories. It’s an incredible feeling giving back to another community.”