University of Missouri

Mizzou Alternative Breaks

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Information for Parents

Every van comes equipped with 4 tires and one tiger tail.

Every van comes equipped with 4 tires and one tiger tail.

Welcome Parents!

This page is dedicated to answering all kinds of questions for parents and guardians of students participating in alternative break trips. If we fail to answer any questions you have please don’t hesitate to contact us at breaks@missouri.edu.

About Mizzou Alternative Breaks (MAB)

MAB is a student-led program overseen by the Department of Student Life on the University of Missouri’s campus. Its mission is to provide a safe, fun, alternative service break for Mizzou students. We do this by training our site leaders and selecting students who we believe will follow the rules and implement our policies regarding various aspects of the trips.

Types of Trips and How MAB Works

Each MAB trip has a service focus. Some of our past service focuses include Animals, Youth Empowerment, Environment, Habitat for Humanity, Health, Homelessness, Indigenous People’s Advocacy, Women’s Advocacy, and much more. Participants preference their top three service focuses on their application. We then select participants based on their application and preferred service focus. After being selected, participants meet with their site leaders on a regular basis to talk about fundraising efforts, rules, service focus education, and bonding. You can see a map of where we have been or are going here.

Departure and Return Dates

Our trips typically depart on the Friday or Saturday of the break. For weekend trips, a few will depart on Thursday if the students do not have classes on Friday. All trips will always return – at the latest – by the Sunday before classes start again. Each trip returns at a different time of the day and week long trips may even return on different days depending on where they are driving from. For example, over spring break, one trip may return to Columbia on Friday while another might not get back until Sunday. All trips depart and return to Columbia. However, students can leave the trips earlier if they complete our “Early Dismissal Agreement” and pre-arrange a pick up. Some students do this if their trip is returning through St. Louis and they want to spend the night there with someone. Students can only do this option if they have completed the Early Dismissal Agreement and MAB is no longer responsible for that student as soon as they leave the trip.

The Blog

In 2010 MAB created a blog. This blog is a way for you to follow the experiences of every MAB trip. Students will blog at least once during their trip and it goes to muasb.blogspot.com. We share this link with anyone who donates to our student’s trip, but it is available for anyone to read. The blog serves two purposes: to provide a time for the students to come together and reflect on the day they just had and to give relatives, donors, and friends a better understand of what each trip is doing. We highly recommend following the MAB Blog and Twitter Account (if you are a fan of Twitter). It is both highly amusing and extremely educational.

Participant Fee

MAB is completely funded by the participants through their fundraising efforts and a participant fee. Participant fees are $200 for a week-long trip, $300 for a 10-day summer trip, and $100 for a weekend trip (International trip costs change each year). Participant fees are student-charged.  It is important to note that MAB does not offer refunds for participants who decide to drop before the trip departs. After a students signs the “Student Charge Authorization Form” we cannot offer a refund. The form spells this out clearly. More about why this policy exists can be found in our FAQ page. MAB started a needs-based scholarship fund in 2012. When applying for MAB, students can apply for a scholarship towards their participant fee. Scholarships are awarded based on need and availability of funds.

Fundraising

The participant fee only covers a portion of the actual cost of the alternative break trip. The remaining cost is covered by student fundraising efforts. Our main fundraiser is a letter-writing campaign that every student participates in, but there are other group fundraisers that occur before the trips leave. If a student individually raises more than $500 we then refund 50% of the participant fee to that student upon returning from their trip. Refunds go to the student’s MyZou account. (Important note: The 50% refund does not apply to the International Trips because of the high total cost of the trips)

Safety

The well-being of our students is a priority. To make the trips as safe as possible we take precautions both before the trips leave and during. First, we only rent vehicles from Enterprise, Avis, and our campus fleet. Second, any person who is going to drive must follow our driving policies, the site leaders are responsible for promoting adherence to the policy. Drivers are not allowed to drive longer than 2 hours at a time to keep the drivers fresh. Also, driving between 12: 00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. is not permitted. Every driver has completed a driver’s training and signed a driver’s agreement. Per University regulations only 20-year-old drivers are permitted to drive larger vehicles. Driving safety is not our only concern. We require at least three people be together at all times, regardless of when or where they are. Site Leaders also have check-ins and should an emergency arise, they are instructed to notify us as soon as possible so we can advise them on what to do next. MAB policies are also in place to make the trips as safe as possible and it is each participant’s responsibility to adhere to MAB policies.

Site leaders and participants are advised to take precautions and be safe on these trips. If at any time they feel the work that an agency is asking them to do is too dangerous, they are advised not to perform the work until the appropriate safety measures are in place. If a student is not complying with our policies or our site leaders, we reserve the right to end their participation on the MAB trip. If a decision is made to remove a student from the trip we will not simply strand the participant. We will support the student with arranging transportation home at their own expense. In the past, we have also taken disciplinary measures when the students have returned with the Office of Student Conduct for violations of MAB policies. All expenses incurred after being removed will be the responsibility of the participants.

The above highlights the efforts taken to mitigate health and safety issues for alternative break participants. We are available to discuss this more if you have additional questions. You can reach the MAB Coordinator at 573-882-8585.

MAB Policies

Below are a few of our policies. Every student signs three documents before leaving on a trip: A hold harmless agreement, an Alcohol and Other Drug Policy, and a release. These documents spell out these policies and more.

  • The Alternative Breaks Executive Board has the right to deny students the ability to go on a trip if we feel that person could be a physical or psychological threat to others.
  • MAB participants are expected to remain substance-free while participating in the program, regardless of age.
  • MAB participants who break one of the program’s policies or pose a threat or harm to other participants will be asked to leave the trip (at their own expense).
  • All MAB participants are required to follow and adhere to all M-Book Standards.

The Alternative Break Effect

Going on an Alternative Breaks trip can be a very impactful experience for students. Alternative break trips allow students to experience another part of the United States and immerse themselves into the issues facing society. We ask each student to complete a survey on their experiences after the trip and below are a few findings. For more information visit our Impact Page.

98% of students say they learned something from their interactions with the community
94% say their trip has influences their desire to participate in service locally
85% say their trip has influenced their desire to participate in advocacy locally
91% of students say their allowed them to experience something completely new

Wrapping it Up

This page was designed to give you more information on your student’s involvement in MAB. Students participating in MAB also receive an orientation, training, and travel itineraries, which they can share with their relatives. Below is our mission statement that was created by the students who lead MAB:

Alternative Breaks provides students the unique opportunity to gain a wider perspective of the world while immersed in a week of service. As a program, we aim to influence all Mizzou students, who will soon be leaders and supporters of our future as a global community. Through service, leadership and the development of lasting relationships, MAB aims to provide students with an experience that offers them the seeds to grow into active and united citizens. By igniting a passion for service in this generation, MAB promotes the idea that grassroots service is something greater than a week or an event – it is a MOVEMENT that starts with caring about the people around you and the community that brings you together.