Posts Tagged ‘alternative spring break’

Bright as Day–Leatherback Turtle Nesting

This is a rare occasion–just 2 days ago in Vieques, Puerto Rico, an endangered leatherback turtle was ashore laying her eggs in the daylight. This is pretty much an exclusively nocturnal activity, so even though conservationists have intervened, protected, and helped the struggling species for years…it is activity done by flashlight. This giant gal, it is supposed, was trying to get ashore to her nesting spot overnight but couldn’t make it. It is a fascinating sight as she flips sand back to cover her freshly laid eggs (and just as quickly, volunteers dig them back up to protect them and take them to a safer location for their gestation).

Turtle conservation is a popular volunteer opportunity, especially in Latin American equatorial regions, where several species nest. Many resorts in the Caribbean and mainland regions nearby have programs for guests to go out at night during egg laying, to help protect the eggs from natural and unnatural predators and threats, and also when the babies hatch and struggle across expanses of sand to make it to the (relative) safety of the surf. If you are vacationing this Spring Break (or springtime in general), check to see if the property where you are staying has volunteer opportunities–with turtles or any other options. Many hospitality businesses are rolling out guest opportunities to give back to the communities we visit. Just ask at the front desk, or the concierge, and turn your vacation into a voluntour.

Africa & Asia Venture-Inspiring Young People to Service


This UK-based company has been creating volunteer opportunities for young people for the past 16 years, and has sent thousands of young volunteers from the Americas and Europe on transformational, life changing trips, after which no one is the same. That is the real point of volunteering, creating change from which we never recover (in the very best way). A big, international volunteer/service trip is a line of demarcation in life whether you do it once or every break you get. Your personal history lines up in two categories: BEFORE you went and dug a well/taught orphans/saved gorillas/cleaned beaches of oil/set up medical clinics/built houses or schools/planted community gardens/read to classrooms or elders/etc…and AFTER that gig. How brilliant to start early. There’s a cheeseball t-shirt saying, “The person who dies with the most toys wins.” I’d posit another version: “The person who dies with the most experiences wins.”

Africa & Asia Venture creates opportunity trips and places young folks in big, chunky, global volunteer assignments that really make a difference. We aren’t as well-versed in gap years in the US, but these trips are sizable, perfect for an alternative spring break or summer assignment. 3 weeks, 5 weeks, or 3-5 months is enough time to truly be immersed in a new culture. The trips focus on the categories of teaching, sports coaching, environmental/conservation work, and community building. Some of the destinations where the community project placements beckon volunteers are Kenya, Uganda, Thailand, Mexico, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania, China, India, Nepal, Ecuador, Costa Rica…can you imagine how fired up about the world you would have been to spend a summer break like this? You would have been unstoppable.

Don’t we wish that on every single young person? It might be a stretch to set up an adventure of this magnitude, but set up an adventure. You, and the young people you know, will never regret missing some episodes of “Divorce Court” or reruns of “Gossip Girl,” and you’ll certainly never regret having them come home to you after a few weeks of saving/changing/bettering lives and dreams.