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Max A. Shacknai COVE Alternative Breaks

Learning at Colgate does not stop when students go on break. Make the most of your time by volunteering for an alternative break, traveling domestically and internationally to engage in community service!
students volunteer to help build a house

About Alternative Breaks

Our Alternative Break Program gives you the opportunity to embark on trips to domestic and international destinations to engage in community service and deepen your understanding of pertinent social issues through interaction, collaboration, and experiential learning. We will also train you as a leader and advocate for social change. We encourage you to take an active role in initiating and planning trips, and we expect you to actively reflect on your experiences.

Alternative break trips are not discrete one-week experiences. In addition to committing to a work-intensive week, you will be attend 3-4 pre-departure meetings to prepare you for the experience you are about to undertake. Once you return to campus, the goal is to bring awareness of the pertinent issues back to Colgate.

Our vision is a society of community-minded citizens. As part of the Alternative Break experience, participants will become more educated and experienced in all sides of a social issue. Upon return, they will be empowered to make more informed decisions and take meaningful action that supports a greater good. They will become contributing members of society and will weigh in on issues that impact their community.


Alternative breaks take our students all over the country and world. Often our destinations are determined by world events such as natural disasters, as we try to provide assistance in areas of need. Past alternative breaks have been to locations such as New Orleans, in response to Hurricane Katrina; Mexico City, Mexico; and Neyba, Dominican Republic.

2017-2018 Trips

Habitat for Humanity - Exmore, Virginia

Sunday, March 11th - Saturday, March 17th

Habitat for Humanity houses are simple, decent, and affordable to low-income families. Whenever possible, Habitat builds energy-efficient, sustainable housing. Habitat lends no-profit, no-interest, mortgage loans to its beneficiary families. The goal of Habitat for Humanity is to help solve the global housing crisis and help the 48.5 million people living in poverty.

Apply now! 
Applications are due Thursday, February 8th.

Global Medical Brigade - Nicaragua

Spring Break 2018

The Colgate Medical Brigade Chapter will provide primary health care services to small, under resourced, rural communities in Nicaragua with limited to no access to medical care. Physicians provide patient consults and prescribe treatment for acute illnesses. Students work in triage, shadow physicians, provide education workshops, and help to distribute medicine in the pharmacy. Participants will be required to attend weekly pre-departure meetings throughout the spring 2018 semester leading up to the trip. The trip fee is $1,500. Financial Aid is available.

Application Closed

Camp Campbell Outdoor Science School - Boulder Creek, CA

Winter Break 2018

YMCA Camp Campbell Outdoor Science School is a residential camp tucked in the redwood mountains in California. They run an outdoor science school for a diverse group of local 5th and 6th graders. Colgate student volunteers will work as cabin leaders for these students – participating in field studies and activities during the day and staying overnight in cabins with campers.

Participants will receive training from the camp staff and attend field study along with students and their naturalist. Field study time focuses on hands-on ecology exploration in the redwood forest. Field study time also includes one day-long picnic hike to an amazing ridge top view, a night hike, river study, survival skills, swimming pool, and more!

Application Closed

Leadership Development with Pathfinder Village - Edmeston, New York

Monday, March 12th - Friday, March 16th

Pathfinder Village is a caring community offering independence to people living with Down Syndrome and developmental disabilities.

 Volunteers will take part in a five-day inclusive team building program designed to build shared learning, mentoring, and coaching relationships between Pathfinder Village secondary students and college age peers. Student volunteers will be paired one on one with a resident for the duration of the week and each team will work together on a variety of challenges. Activities will include a ropes course, hike, outdoor cookout, and planning a St. Patrick's Day event for other residents. The goals of this trip are to build relationships with Pathfinder staff and residents while providing the organization with valuable service that will impact the lives of participants for years to come.

Apply Now!
​Applications are due Thursday, February 8th

Hunger and Homeless Outreach - Washington, D.C.

Winter Break 2018

America is one of the world's wealthiest nations, especially when it comes to our agricultural production, yet enough food goes to waste each day to feed every hungry adult and child living in the nation. Each night some five million children go to bed hungry. As many as 3.5 million people each year have no bed to call their own, as they experience homelessness.

Participants will have an opportunity to explore the root causes and efforts to improve the hunger and homelessness situation in America through a series of site visits, guest speakers and discussions. Participants will be volunteering at soup kitchens and with various organizations that specialize in assisting and empowering the homeless population.

Application Closed