Alternative Break Program


Western Oregon University’s student-led and service-driven Alternative Break program provides students and advisors (faculty, staff, or alumni) with the opportunity to immerse in hands-on community service in local and global communities. Through service, participants develop cultural awareness, build leadership skills, and engage in the advancement of social justice.

Being completely immersed in diverse environments enables team members to experience, reflect, and conceptualize complex societal concerns in a significant way with the goal of applying what they have learned in their future studies, careers, and life.

Opportunities are offered during Winter, Spring, and Summer breaks.


Interested in Serving as an advisor?


Fill out an Advisor Interest Form

“The AB trip was an incredible experience of giving and learning. It was wonderful to see how the team pulled together and how much of a difference people can make. I encourage students and faculty to get involved – you will not forget it …” (Montrose, Colorado 2005)

Dr. Lauren Roscoe, Psychology Department

Eligibility to Serve as an Advisor

  • Employed WOU faculty/staff or WOU Alumni who have graduation one-year prior to submitting an interest form and being selected by team leaders to serve as an Advisor.
  • Have approval from supervisor for time away from the office both pre-departure and during the Break
  • You are financially responsible for your payments as a team member on the same schedule as students

*Note: Previous advisors have paid for their portion of the team cost through personal funds, department index, or professional development funds. If using professional development funds, you are responsible for keeping record of receipts and information needed to submit for reimbursement by the University.

Expectations of Advisors

  • Provide ongoing support and communication with team leaders
  • Participate in 1.5 hour weekly team meetings
  • Cooperatively work with team leaders, team members, co-advisor, and AB Program staff
  • Demonstrate professionalism and uphold University’s values and policies
  • Complete van certification and be responsible, with your co-advisor, to drive (if applicable)
  • Track and reconcile trip expenditures

Insights from former advisors:

  • It is a very rewarding trip that you will come back refreshed and exhausted at the same time
  • Need to be in a position to dive right back into classes or work after break- you will not have much down time but the time away from “usual tasks”, as well as the energy of the trip and students is rejuvenating
  • Be able to plug into the group after the group has bonded
  • Be comfortable with being a team member and not leading or taking charge unless you are needed in emergency situations
  • Reach out to all students on the trip and spend time cultivating individual relationships, as well as fostering group cohesiveness
  • Support the student leaders and let them lead – empower them to make the decisions. They should be the ones that other students go to first for decisions/info, not you
  • Be okay with a role difference of not leading and being responsible for the group, you are there for support and to help handle larger emergency issues, day to day things need to be handled by the student leaders
  • You are team member, relax and go along for the ride in most ways.
  • Encourage students to make own decisions and to go to student leaders if students come to you as the “in charge person” on the trip.
  • Bring an air mattress and get good sleep!!!