With applications due this month for an Ohio State program that sets students up with community service trips during breaks, prices for domestic trips are higher than last year’s.
This year, 32 trips to places such as Belize City, Belize, Baltimore and Atlanta during spring break are being offered through Buck-I-SERV.
Buck-I-SERV is a program of one-week, substance-free trips “centered on community service and civic engagement, and held during the university’s breaks,” according to its website.
Brieanne Beaujolais, coordinator of service and outreach for OSU’s Student Life, said in an email the most popular trips with Buck-I-SERV are those that work with Habitat for Humanity and take students the Southern U.S.
According to the Buck-I-SERV website, domestic fees are about $200 to $390, which are more expensive than last year when prices ranged between $175 and $350. International trips are set to cost about $1,500 to $1,600 for the spring trips.
Beaujolais said the program plans to send approximately 500 students on trips during spring break and 200 during summer 2014.
The last day for the application in spring break is Jan. 26. The application deadline has been extended since last year, when applications were due in early January.
Some students who have gone on the trips said they went for multiple reasons.
“At first my goal (was) to spend break and make some new friends,” Saiying Ge, a fourth-year in finance, said.
She went to Chicago for her first trip last spring break, and to the state of Mississippi for her second trip over winter break. In the first trip, her job included distributing food, painting a house and listening to personal stories from people living in poverty. Then, on her second trip, she built a house with her team members.
“It turns out those trips inspired me to establish (a) nonprofit organization,” she said.
Ge said she plans to apply for her third trip through Buck-I-SERV for spring break.
Safety questions arose surrounding Buck-I-SERV in March when a student on a trip to Belize was bitten by a shark and later said she was told by Buck-I-SERV officials to keep quiet about it.
At the time, Student Life spokesman Dave Isaacs told The Lantern the activity where she was bitten was a voluntary one and advisers on the trips are trained to handle emergency situations.
While Isaacs was not able to immediately provide whether additional safety measures will be in place on this year’s trips, he said in an email, “safety is a top priority.”
“Every effort is made to provide participants with a safe experience,” he added.
Ge said she was reminded of safety tips throughout her trip.
“We saw (a) video … about safety issues,” Ge said. “And (during) the trip, our leader would ask us to … review some safety tips every time before we start(ed) work.”
Laura Jo Hirlinger, a third-year in marketing, has gone on two Buck-I-SERV trips. For her second trip to Boulder, Colo., during summer 2013, she was the team leader.
Hirlinger said those involved with Buck-I-SERV were helpful no matter what small issues came up.
“They are really good about that, just keeping in contact with (the) home office … in the Union,” Hirlinger said, adding that she believes that’s the best safety feature of the program.