CU offers students an alternative spring break



by Miranda Raines

According to, the top spring break destinations include Cancun, Panama City Beach and Las Vegas. One city not commonly found on a spring break destination list, though, is Joplin, Mo.

Cameron University has teamed with Relief Spark to give 15 students an alternative spring break trip option.

Relief Spark is a nonprofit organization that started in New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina. After the May 2011 tornado disaster in Joplin, the organization started another relief effort.

Student activities specialist Steve Sassaman joined with Relief Spark in an effort to involve CU students in a different kind of spring break.

Alternative spring breaks are becoming popular at educational institutions; it is a way for the students to do meaningful projects and services, Sassaman explained.

“The purpose of the trip is to give students the opportunity to do something meaningful with their spring break,” Sassaman said.  “Whereas traditionally people think of spring break as going to places like Cancun and the beach, or getting drunk and partying, alternative spring breaks take students out on different trips, and do meaningful projects and service work.”

Sassaman added that another reason he wanted to involve students was to increase awareness of volunteerism and community involvement.

In addition to the volunteering and community outreach, students have the chance to make a more direct difference in someone else’s life, as well as their own.

Sassaman told of the impact and benefits this trip could have on the students who get involved.

“The students will have fun, just like any spring break trip, but the difference is that they will experience something new they may not have done before,” he said. “They will get to travel outside of Lawton and experience a new area, but most of all they will get to see the direct impact of the work.”

Students will work to build one house from the ground up. Sassaman feels this will help to impact the students and directly show what it is they are accomplishing.

“We will be working with people who were directly affected by the disaster,” he said. “During the trip we will be working on one house the entire week, students will get to interact with the family that is going to move in once we have finished. The team will see the impact and happiness brought to the family, and that is probably the biggest benefit of the effort.”

Sassaman also said that the CU team would take part in the Relief Spark effort of going green, including solar powered and Eco friendly additions to the home.

“The housing that Relief Spark builds is a new green technology,” he said. “So not only are you providing a living space for a family that was displaced, but you are making a positive impact on the environment with the Eco friendly construction.”

Despite all of the construction efforts, students will have some down time to enjoy themselves and relax. A bonfire, games and reflection activities will offer students the opportunity to get to know other volunteers.

The alternative spring break trip will cost the 15 selected students a total of $100 dollars each. This will take care of transportation, food, and lodging. Sassaman said the fee also shows the students’ commitment to the cause.

For more information about the spring break alternative trip contact Steve Sassaman at

Leave a Reply