Montana State University

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MSU BreaksAway General FAQ’s

What is MSU BreaksAway?
On MSU BreaksAway trips, students volunteer their time to meet community needs during the university spring break. 
BreaksAway trips typically happen outside of the state of Montana, however, for the first time ever we will be sending groups of student ONLY in Montana!  We will only be doing this for BreaksAway 2014 as part of the Year of Engaged Leadership.  The Montana host communities will benefit from the student’s hard work and energizing spirits and the students come back to MSU with an enhanced understanding of the diverse issues that face our great state.  Communities will see tangible results from the MSU student’s projects, while students gain new skills, perspectives and relationships.

What is the Office of Activities and Engagement (OAE)?
The Office of Activities and Engagement (OAE) 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 at:  www.montana.edu/engagement

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 OAE 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.  Since all the trips are in Montana, most groups will leave Sunday the 9th and return Saturday the 15th.

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 OAE 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 (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.

Student Leader FAQ’s
What is a Student Leader?
A Student Leader oversees the entire break experience, from educating the participants, handling daily logistics, and managing conflict within the group.  There are two student co-leaders on each trip.  The terms Student Leader and Site Leader are used interchangeably.

What are the responsibilities of a Student Leader?

  • Attend mandatory Site Leader orientation/training held in January.
  • Organize and co-lead two or three pre-trip planning meetings with trip participants that include trip logistics and education for the issue you will be working with.
  • Participate in a pre-trip teambuilding experience with your group.
  • Attend meetings with OAE BreaksAway Coordinator and other Leaders leading up to the trips.
  • Work cooperatively with the co-leader to consistently address the needs and safety of the group throughout.
  • Help finalize and confirm trip logistics by working with the host site.
  • Delegate responsibilities to individuals in the group before, during and after the trip.
  • Take responsibility to handle all emergencies and/or conflicts that may arise while on the trip.
  • If able, agree to be one of the trip van drivers.
  • Agree to enforce all MSU policies for student travel plus MSU BreaksAway Alcohol/Drug policy. (Reminder:  these are substance free trips!)
  • Responsible to lead a daily reflection session and end of service closing with the group.
  • Help organize, promote and lead a post trip celebration for all MSU BreaksAway participants, their friends, families and any interested parties on campus.
  • Assist in participant recruitment/public relations.
  • Maintain consistent and positive communication with your co-leader, your participants and the OAE.

What are the benefits of being a Site Leader?

  • Build group facilitation techniques and skills.
  • Enhance problem-solving skills.
  • Gain professional leadership experience to note on personal resumes.
  • Enjoy the satisfaction of giving.
  • Travel and experience a different community.
  • Receive half off the cost of the MSU BreaksAway trip (BreaksAway 2014--Leader trip fee is WAIVED!!)

How much time is involved as a Site Leader?
Pre-Trip: Expect to contribute about 15-20 hours during the spring semester for meetings and logistics.  Time involved will increase as the trips come closer.  Post-Trip:  Expect to contribute about 3 more hours after the trips are over for wrap-up meetings, celebration preparation and attending the celebration.

What trip will you lead?
We try to place Site Leaders on their preferred trip, but we cannot guarantee that this will happen.  If you are chosen to be a leader we will consider your trip preference as well as your skills and experiences to try best matching you with a co-leader.  If you are chosen as a Site Leader, but not for the trip of your choice you will have the option to decline the position and still go on your chosen trip as a participant.