What is MSU BreaksAway?

On MSU BreaksAway trips, students volunteer their time to meet community needs. The communities that host MSU BreaksAway groups may be as far away as another country or only one state away. The host community offers opportunities to learn about and experience challenges that are either larger in scope or foreign to Bozeman area community challenges. Students come back to MSU with an enhanced understanding of the diverse issues that face our national and global community. Communities see tangible results from the MSU student’s projects, while students gain new skills, perspectives and relationships. Trips are organized by the Office of Student Engagement and are led by two MSU student Site Leaders. BreaksAway has been a program of the Office of Student Engagement since 1996.

What is the Office Student Engagement?

The Office of Student Engagement (OSE) facilitates and supports student engagement both on campus and in the community. We encourage student leadership development by supporting the formation and sustainable success of student clubs and organizations, providing group leadership development skills, and promoting service experiences in the Bozeman area community and beyond. Learn more about all this office does HERE

Where do the groups travel to?

The trip locations vary from year to year. Check out our upcoming locations page.

What type of work is involved?

This depends on the host site. In the past we have worked in homeless shelters, built trails, tutored kids, built houses and more!  Look for trip specific information closer to trip dates.

How many hours do the groups volunteer?

This varies from site to site, however, the groups tend to work a typical day, 8am-5pm, Mon.-Fri., with breaks throughout the day and evenings free for activities.

Where do the groups stay?

The OSE typically locates housing at local churches or community centers, to keep the cost of the trips low. Volunteers often sleep on floors or cots and utilize the kitchen and shower facilities in these spaces.

What meals are provided?

The trip participants and leaders are given per diems ($10/day) for meals, which is a part of their trip fee. Groups typically buy food together and cook at their housing site.

How much does it cost?

This is dependent on trip location. Fees include meals, housing and transportation. Personal spending or emergency funds are not included.  Leaders pay half of the trip fee.

How many people go on each trip?

The typical trip has 12 students, including 2 student leaders. However, this varies from year to year and the host site capabilities.

What transportation is used?

All trips will travel in mini vans (2 per trip if group has more than 7 participants). Participants and leaders share the driving responsibility.

When do the groups leave and return to Bozeman?

Departure and return dates will be to the discretion of the group. Typically, groups leave on Saturday and return the following weekend.

Do faculty or staff go on the trips?

No, all trips are led by student Site Leaders. They act as liaisons, facilitators, and go-to people before and during the trips. The OSE staff serve as the on-campus emergency contacts.

Are these substance-free trips?

Yes!  All trips are substance-free. The consumption of alcohol and illegal drug use represents a major liability to the program, the health of participants, the cohesion of our groups, and the relationships we have with our host sites. This policy applies to all participants, regardless of age.

Do I need to be an MSU student to participate?

Yes, you must be at least a part-time (minimum 6 credits) MSU-Bozeman student. International MSU students are encouraged to participate, keeping in mind any travel restrictions they may have with their student Visas. ACE Language students are not eligible to participate.

Can my friend(s) and I go together?

Yes, however, there is no guarantee that enough spots will remain for all of you. If you plan to participate with friends, please sign-up the first day of open registration and get in line early!

If I decide to participate, what do I need to do?

The OSE will announce registration start dates. Beginning that day, you will need to go to the announced sign-up location, sign-up and pay at least half of your trip fee to hold a spot on the trip you are interested in. Trips fill up quickly and are first come, first serve. To make registration easier, bring the forms completed (will post closer to registration time), bring your trip fee (cash, check or credit card accepted), proof of health insurance and driver’s license.

How much time is involved once I am on the trip?
Before signing up, please keep in mind that as a participant on the trips you are an active member of the group, which includes attending attending a BreaksAway Orientation and approximately 3 meetings with your group and leaders before you leave. One of these meetings will include teambuilding activities to help you get to know your fellow participants better.  

Do I need to be an MSU student to participate?

Yes, you must be at least a part-time (minimum 6 credits) MSU-Bozeman student (undergraduate OR graduate student). International MSU students are encouraged to participate, keeping in mind any travel restrictions they may have with their student Visas. ACE Language students are not eligible to participate.

Please direct any further questions to Randi Maiers, Program Coordinator, 994-7475 or maiers@montana.edu