Alternative Breaks Program

The Drury Alternative Breaks Program encourages an increased understanding of social and environmental issues by engaging in service and creating opportunities for leadership and active citizenship. During an alternative break, students may be staying in a church or community building, interacting with people whose cultures differ from their own, and living in a way that they may be unaccustomed to living.

On each trip, you will find:

  • Participants with diverse backgrounds and experiences
  • Strong direct service (~15 hours over fall break and ~30 hours over spring break)
  • Orientation, education, and training
  • Group reflection to better understand the social issues and lived experiences of others
  • Reorientation to the Springfield community
  • A drug- and alcohol-free experience

We stay in volunteer housing, community centers, or churches; This may mean using air mattresses and sleeping bags or staying in bunk rooms. Most meals are also prepared by the group in the housing facility’s kitchen.

Funding from Student Government Association allows trips to remain affordable for students. 

Take a look:

  • Fall Break
  • Spring Break
  • Alternative Break Archive
  • Fall Break

    Alternative Fall Break includes about 15 hours of community service working in a community within six hours of campus. Trips typically depart from campus Wednesday evening and return Sunday.

    Fall Break 2019
    Join us in St. Louis as we serve with LifeWise STL and learn about social justice in the city. Activities will include volunteering and visiting local attractions like the Gateway Arch, Forest Park, and the City Museum.

    Dates: Oct. 16-20, 2019

    Cost: $25 (includes housing, travel, service, free-time activities, and some meals) 

    Apply for Alternative Fall Break

    For more information, please email

  • Spring Break

    Alternative Spring Break includes 30-35 hours of community service working in a community within 12 hours of campus. Trips will depart the Sunday morning of spring break and return the following Saturday. We hope to offer three trips in 2020. See the description of each trip below:

    Empowering Families and Building Community in Springfield, MO

    Make it a stay-cation! In our own backyard, we’ll learn about the important work of community building and volunteer with organizations working to improve the lives of families living in poverty. Stay-cations are always cheaper…this trip is $25.

    Living Lands and Waters in Memphis, TN

    Ready to get down and dirty to restore native habitats and preserve natural resources? Join us in Memphis as we volunteer with Living Lands and Waters and other college groups to tackle a week-long river cleanup.

    Supporting Immigrant Communities in San Antonio, TX

    We are partnering with Community Collaborations International to volunteer with local organizations working with immigrant communities in San Antonio, TX. We’ll learn about issues facing immigrant communities and how we can best support them.

    Dates: March 15-21, 2020

    Cost: $50 (includes housing, travel, service, free-time activities, and some meals)

    The application for spring break will open in January.

  • Alternative Break Archive

    Spring 2019

    Unpacking Urban Poverty in Detroit, MI

    In Detroit we explored different facets of urban poverty and the innovative work Cass Community Services is doing to help people find stability. 

    Animal Welfare in Savannah, TN

    We returned to Horse Creek Wildlife Refuge and Animal Rescue to continue our work with the dog shelter there. 

    Fall 2018

    Children & Families in Memphis, TN

    In Memphis we partnered with Hope House to volunteer in their preschool and learn about the impact of HIV on families. At Youth Villages, we worked with teens at a residential behavioral health facility.

    Spring 2018

    Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery (New Orleans, LA)

    We worked with the United Saints Recovery Project to assist communities that have suffered from natural disasters by helping residents return home, improve their quality of life, and strengthen their communities. We worked on home reconstruction projects, served with ARC of Greater New Orleans and Animal Rescue New Orleans, and participated in a neighborhood cleanup. We will be returning to New Orleans in spring 2019.

    Animal Welfare and Environmental Preservation (Savannah, TN)

    We worked with Horse Creek Wildlife Sanctuary and Animal Refuge in Hardin County, Tennessee on 2,000 acres of land. The goal of this organization is to provide shelter, medical care, and adoption services for abandoned and abused dogs. We volunteered around the kennel areas holding and walked dogs through the paved trail, and generally helped socialize the rescues. We will be returning to Horse Creek Wildlife Sanctuary and Animal Refuge in spring 2019.

    Spring 2017

    Vail, CO

    The Colorado group spent their week working across the whole Vail Valley, partnering with the Roundup River Ranch and the Vail Valley Foundation. The Roundup River Ranch is a summer camp for children age 7-17 that are diagnosed with serious (and sometimes terminal) illnesses to come together and just be kids and enjoy the time of kids going through the same thing they are. The camp had a big inspection the week we were there to gain approval for expanding the camp. We helped prepare the entire camp by cleaning, organizing, and getting the premises up to code. Our help allowed them to get 100% on their inspection and their expansion was improved. The Vail Valley foundation focuses on education, arts, and sports in the Vail Valley and raises a lot of money for impoverished families. We worked with the education side of thing preparing for events they had coming up, creating education activities for their after school programming, and preparing a garden for spring planting.

    Memphis, TN

    The Tennessee group spent their time in Memphis, TN partnering with Living Lands and Waters and Bellevue Frayser Baptist Church. Living Lands and Waters is an organization that focuses its time and effort on cleaning up trash along the Mississippi River Basin and in the river. The group spent four days going out on boats and cleaning up trash in and along the river. At the end of the week the group picked up 64,485 pounds of trash alongside other universities that were also there for their spring break. The group also volunteered with a local church, Bellevue Frayser Baptist Church, in return for the church housing them for the week. At the church they painted walls in classrooms, recreation rooms, and hallways.

    Fall 2016

    Little Rock, AR

    Students on this trip completed service projects with the Arkansas Children's hospital. They explored a variety of community issues including environmental upkeep, and gained awareness and understanding of the struggles families face with children with illnesses.

    Spring 2016

    Detroit, MI

    Students on this trip explored a variety of issues within the Detroit community, including food, housing, healthcare, and jobs from an urban perspective. Participants worked with Cass Community Social Services and completed a wide variety of service projects with this organization. The service projects were centered around the day-to-day operations of Cass and included projects such as volunteering at a soup kitchen, painting/landscaping/recycling, working with adults with developmental disabilities, and activities with the homeless children and youth. Students got to see a lot of the city and come out with a holistic idea of what urban development looks like.

    Selma, AL

    Students on this trip explored the historic importance that Selma held during the civil rights movement. In particular, the marches from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.  For service activities, the group partnered with Blackbelt & Central Alabama Housing. Participants got to stay in the home of the director of the housing association who has close ties to individuals who participated in the 1965 marches with Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Fall 2015

    St. Louis, MO

    Students completed service projects with Angels' Arms, Epworth, and St. Vincent Home for Children in order to better understand the lives of children in foster care and foster families.

    Spring 2015

    Chicago, IL

    Students worked with various nonprofits in the Chicago area to learn about many social issues. Partners included: Center on Halsted, All Stars Project of Chicago, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Inspiration Kitchens, Gardeneers, PAWS, Impact Engine, and YouTopia. Housing was provided by University Church.

    New Orleans, LA

    Students worked with Common Ground Relief on wetlands restoration projects throughout the week.

    Spring 2014

    Twin Lakes State Park, VA

    Participants worked at this state park alongside the park rangers to maintain various trails and clear brush.

    Washington, DC

    This trip was dedicated to learning about urban farming and homelessness. The participants worked with DC Central Kitchen, which is a homeless shelter that utilizes an urban farm for its meals. They also worked with City Blossoms and Common Good City Farm, both urban farming programs.

    Spring 2013

    Denver, CO

    Students worked with the African Community Center, which provides African refugees with the resources they need to build safe, sustainable lives in Denver.

Engaged Learning (CORE Curriculum)

Students in the CORE curriculum can earn one credit of Engaged Learning by participating in an alternative break and completing PDEV 260: Co-Curricular Service Learning. For information about Engaged Learning, talk with your academic advisor or email Peter Meidlinger