Students to experience alternative spring break trips

Participants of Pay it Forward travel to three U.S. cities to do service work.

Colette Bell

Instead of spending their spring break partying in sunny southern states, students on the Pay it Forward Tour will help or work for others during their long-awaited break.

On Friday, more than 200 University of Minnesota students will kick start their spring break with the Pay it Forward Tour, sponsored by the student group Students Today Leaders Forever.

Participants will travel to three different cities across the country, completing nine days of community service along the way. Students chose between five different bus routes — classic and mystery tours in Dallas and Washington, D.C. and a mystery tour in Denver — that will determine their final destination.

In the past, participants have carried out a variety of services for different communities. Projects range from working at food shelves to painting barns to relocating invasive species in parklands.

All five routes will stop in five unique cities throughout the journey. Students who travel on mystery routes will be unaware of those five cities for the duration of the trip.

Travis Hulbert, a mechanical engineering junior who went on the Denver Mystery Tour during spring break last year, is going again but this time on the D.C. Classic Trip.

“[The Mystery Tour] was fun,” he said. “It provided a guessing game.”

The students who go on these service trips offer a new perspective of spring break for not only college students but also outsiders who may have a disapproving view of the entire week, Hulbert said.

 “There are young people doing work just to help a community. I don’t think that is very common,” Hulbert said. “People come up to you and think you’re so great for doing this work for them.”

Pay it Forward will not only serve others in a community, but STLF intends to have students build strong bonds throughout the week.

“You basically really get to know people,” said Josh Hansen, a physics junior and one of the leaders of STLF at the University.

He said he’s still close with some of the friends from his bus.

Other student groups are planning alternative spring break trips, too.

Habitat for Humanity is setting off to St. Petersburg, Fla., where students will build a new home for a family in need, while Campus Crusade for Christ members will spend their spring break spreading the gospel in Panama
Beach, Fla.