Spring Alternative Break

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Thank you for your interest in a Spring Alternative Break!  We are excited to unveil our 2015 Alternative Break portfolio in September!  Please fill out the following FORM to be notified via email when trips have been posted.

The 2014 Spring Alternative Break season has wrapped and we are so proud of our student stewards!  Ten Alternative Breaks (106 total students) were completed in March with the following school and host partnerships:

  1. Christopher Newport University, VA (Douthat State Park, VA)
  2. DeSales University, PA (James River State Park, VA)
  3. Drexel University, PA (Belle Isle State Park, VA)
  4. Maine Maritime Academy, ME (Twin Lakes State Park, VA)
  5. Marshall University, WV (York River State Park, VA)
  6. Northeastern University, MA (Sky Meadows State Park, VA)
  7. Ohio State University, OH (Douthat State Park, V)
  8. SUNY Canton, NY (Staunton River State Park, VA)
  9. University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI (James River State Park, VA)
  10. University of Wisconsin-Stout, WI (Douthat State Park, VA)

Belle IsleBelle Isle State Park, VA

Host: VA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation

Area Description:  The park is located near the Chesapeake Bay and is known for sport fishing, kayaking, and hiking opportunities. Many historic sites are nearby, including the birthplaces of three presidents. The park is located on the “Northern Neck” of Virginia, an area that is a combination of rural agriculture, natural and conservation areas, and several charming small towns.

Accommodations: Volunteers will stay in a camping lodge with 7 bunk beds (14 beds total). The lodge also includes a kitchen with a refrigerator and microwave. Bathrooms and showers are a short walk away. Volunteers should bring a sleeping bag or bed linens and towels.

Get Out:  Volunteers will be free to chose from several fun activities during their free time. A list with directions for several local sites, including museums, natural areas, and national parks and refuges will be provided to the group.  They will be free to explore any of these cultural, historical, or natural sites at their leisure.

Give Back:  Volunteers will work together to rejuvenate hiking trails within the park.  Projects will include clearing brush, trimming trees, and spreading gravel. The project is ranked moderately strenuous and the trails and work sites are fairly level.  Volunteers will be expected to hike a total of 3 miles daily to and from the work site.

DouthatDouthat State Park, VA

Host: VA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation

Area Description:   Amid some of Virginia’s most breathtaking mountain scenery, visitors enjoy interpretive programs, two miles of stream fishing, a 50-acre lake stocked with trout, a sandy swimming beach, boat rentals, and more than 43 miles of hiking, mountain biking and bridle trails. Plus, there is an amphitheater and a restaurant overlooking the lake.

Accommodations: Volunteers will enjoy a stay at one of the park’s lodges.  There is plenty of space to spread out in this lodge that sleeps as many as 16 people.  Bathrooms are on site.  Linens will be provided.  Volunteers will be able to prep meals in a full kitchen.  It includes a fridge, freezer, stove, cutlery, pots and pans, and silverware.

Get Out:  Volunteers will have plenty of recreational opportunities to choose from during their free time.  They will have the opportunity to tour the beautiful counties of Bath and Alleghany, home of the Dominion Back Creek Recreation Area and the Jackson River Scenic Trail.  On the final night, relax with your fellow volunteers and enjoy smores by the campfire.

Give Back: Volunteers will give back by upgrading the trail system within the park, repairing damage to the trails resulting from weather or overuse.  Volunteers will also have the opportunity to learn about water shedding techniques and how to integrate them into the trail system. Volunteers will hike a total of 1 mile to and from the work site daily.

AHS Alternative BreakJames River State Park

Host: VA Dept. of Conservation & Recreation

Area Description: James River State Park is located in Buckingham county, halfway between Charlottesville and Lynchburg, VA and has two miles of river frontage along the James River.  The park has 15 miles of hiking and biking trails, deer, bobcats, bear, squirrels and lots of rabbits.  Wintergreen Ski Resort, The National D-Day Memorial, Monticello, and Appomattox Surrender Grounds are all within 30 minutes to a one hour drive from the park.

Accommodations: Volunteers will stay in a 6 bedroom lodge with central air and heat, 3 bathrooms, and full kitchen equipped with utensils, dishes, and pots and pans for 16 guests.  The lodge also has a propane grill, washer, and dryer.  There are 2 queen beds, 4 single beds, and 4 sets of bunk beds.  The bed and bath linens are also provided for 16 people.

Get Out: Volunteers will have an abundance of activities to choose from during their spare time at James River.  There is easy access to any number of outdoor and recreational activities for volunteers to choose from.  Volunteers can easily visit Appomattox Surrender Grounds where the Civil war ended, the National D -Day Memorial, or hike at Crabtree Falls. James River can also host a movie night in the new visitor center or a day on the archery range.

Give Back: Volunteers will work to upgrade the Discovery area, fixing existing stations and adding new stations, refurbish trails, add stone, trash pick up along RT. 605 and main entrance into park, install large stones to dam at Taylor Pond, clear dam heads along Branch and Taylor Ponds and remove black willows from wetland impoundment.   Volunteers will hike up to one mile daily.

Sky Meadows 2Sky Meadows State Park, VA

Host: VA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation

Area Description:  Step back in time; and visit a beautiful country farm in Delaplane, VA. Set amongst the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Just 40 minutes west of Washington DC, lies the picturesque Sky Meadows State Park.

Accommodations: Volunteers will enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the Timberlake House during their visit to the park. Timberlake has a full kitchen, dining/meeting room, and three bedrooms with bunk-beds. Bathrooms and showers are on site.  A full wrap-around deck with three bistro tables & a grill overlooking the majestic Turner Pond.  Other amenities include a TV, DVD player, washer/dryer, refrigerator, and coffee maker.

Get Out:  Volunteers will have an ample amount of fun activities to choose from during their spare time.  They will have the opportunity to visit another state park or the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Center.  The park will also provide evening programs on topics pertaining to the park and surrounding area.  Additionally, there are several attractions located within driving distance including, Washington DC’s Smithsonian Museums, Shenandoah National Park/Skyline Drive, the Appalachian Trail, Skyline Caverns, and Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park.

Give Back:  Volunteers will convert two existing trails from single path equestrian to multi-use trails. This will include trail widening to meet multi-use trail standards, trail contouring, trailblazing, and sign installation. A possible additional project if time permits is the development of a backcountry picnic area. The backcountry picnic area will include four mulched pads, picnic tables and grills at each pad, and several hitching posts. Volunteers will be required to hike a total of 3 miles to and from the work site daily.

Staunton RiverStaunton River State Park, VA

Area Description:  Staunton River State Park is located in the heart of rural southern Virginia near the North Carolina border. The park boasts 2,500 acres of woodlands, meadows, and shoreline on Buggs Island Lake and the Dan and Staunton Rivers. The park offers access to the largest lake (23 acres) in Virginia plus excellent fishing and boating opportunities.  Staunton River State Park is an hour away from the historic towns of Danville and Lynchburg, Virginia and Roxboro, North Carolina. Locally, in the town of South Boston there are several museums and historic sites that offer cultural history to modern explorers.
Accommodations: Volunteers will stay in one of two housing options; either historic cabins that sleep 2 to 6 people or a 3 room bunk house that sleeps 12. All beds in the cabin are fulls, and the bunk house has twin bunk beds. A refrigerator will be provided, as well as any cutlery needed for your stay. The cabins have running water and bathrooms, while the bunk house is a 60 second walk from a nice bath house and laundry facility.  A refrigerator, stove, microwave, and grill are standard in each cabin, as well as a set of forks, knives, spoons, glasses, and plates for each individual (the bunk house does not have a stove). All cooking utensils, pots, pans, etc. are provided.Give Back:  Volunteers will assist on a wide range of needed maintenance projects within the park.  They include improving existing trails capacity to shed water and prevent erosion.  Volunteers will also reroute some trails and repair trails that were damaged by a tornado.  Finally, volunteers will construct a trail that meets ADA standards for individuals with disabilities.  Volunteers will hike a total of 1 mile each day to and from the work site.

Twin LakesTwin Lakes State Park, VA

Area Description:  Twin Lakes is located in the heart of Virginia, approximately 40 minutes from Richmond, Virginia.  Visitors enjoy swimming, fishing, boating and lakefront picnicking at Goodwin Lake.  Nearby attractions include Appomattox Courthouse National Park, High Bridge Trail State Park, Sailors Creek Battlefield State Park, Sandy River Adventure Park, and many other recreational opportunities.

Accommodations: Volunteers will enjoy a stay in one of the park’s lodges.  The lodge has four bedrooms with two sets of bunk beds in each, a common room,  common bathroom, back deck, patio tables, heating, and air conditioning. A charcoal grill is also available. The lodge also has a TV, DVD player, and AM/FM radio. Volunteers will have access to a full kitchen including a refrigerator, electric stove, toaster, automatic drip coffeemaker, microwave oven, and place settings for 18 people. A set of linens and towels will also be made available to volunteers during their stay.

Get Out: Volunteers will have several recreation opportunities to choose from during their free time.  They will have the opportunity to tour High Bridge Trail State Park and Sailors Creek Battlefield State Park.  The park is including a trip to Richmond on the final evening of the trip.  During which, volunteers will have a chance to visit any number of outdoor or cultural attractions. This will also include a paid meal to a restaurant of the group’s choice.

Give Back: Twin Lakes State Park is home to approximately 6 miles of trail that are opened to various types of use. From a family of hikers to the local mountain bike riders, each user is looking for something different from the trail experience. This project will focus on the smaller maintenance issues that arise throughout the year and cause negative user experiences. These tasks will range from simple brush clearing along the corridor and installing rocks to hardened sections of the trails to cleaning out drainages.  Volunteers will hike a total of 2 miles to and from the work site daily.

York RiverYork River State Park, VA

Area Description: The park is known for its rare and delicate estuarine environment, where freshwater and saltwater meet to create a rich habitat for marine and plant life. It is on the York River and is designated as a Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The pristine environment offers clues to a rich natural and cultural history and hosts fossil beds and Colonial and Native American artifacts. Programs, activities and visitor center displays focus on the history, use, wildlife and preservation of the York River and its marshes.

York River is situated in the city of Williamsburg.  Williamsburg is in the northern part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, which also includes Norfolk and Virginia Beach. It is bordered by James City County and York County. The city’s tourism-based economy is driven by Colonial Williamsburg, the restored Historic Area of the city. Along with nearby Jamestown and Yorktown, Williamsburg forms part of the Historic Triangle, which attracts more than four million tourists each year. Modern Williamsburg is also a college town, inhabited in large part by William & Mary students and staff.

Accommodations: Volunteers will stay in dormitory style trailers.  The dorms include a kitchen with range and refrigerator, and bathrooms.

Get Out: Volunteers will have several activities to choose from during their spare time including canoeing or hiking on the 35 miles of trails within the park.  Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown, and outlet shopping are all close-by and easily accessible on the free day.

Give Back: Volunteers will perform trail maintenance on various trails in the park (the park has 35 miles of trails to explore!)  Trail maintenance tasks include fence building and creating interpretive trail features on an existing trail.