From Mission Trips To Exotic Beaches, No Two Spring Breaks Are The Same

Everyone at Boston College is thinking of the same thing this week: Spring Break-that infamous, carefree week when college kids across the country stop hitting the books and hit the beaches instead. While we may all be thinking about the same thing, we’re thinking about it in different ways and have been for a long time. It’s safe to say that no two BC students have ever really had the same vacation.

For many of us, Spring Break can’t come soon enough, but in 1988, students complained that it was in fact a bit too early. That year, it began the week of Feb. 29. 

“I’m just getting into the swing of classes right now, and boom-we’re on break again,” said Denise Carron, BC ’89. Writer Eric Marcos attributed the early break to an exceptionally early Easter on April 3 and the University’s tradition of putting spring break in the middle of this holiday and the beginning of the semester. 

Heights writer Nick Tambakeras offered some alternative Spring Break options that even the most unconventional college student might laugh at. “Take a drive to Arkansas and go see the childhood home of former president Bill Clinton,” he suggested. “You’ll learn something and you’ll see the true source of America’s current media woes.” 

Tambakeras also suggested taking a trip to Minnesota for ice fishing, or for the warm-weather seeker on a budget, simply buying a bottle of tequila and a session at a tanning salon for the perfect Spring Break fake-out. 

A large number of BC students, both in the past and today, opt for service-minded Spring Break trips instead of the more traditional, tropical venues. 

The most obvious Spring Break service trip choice is the Appalachia Volunteers program, which, in 1981, was offered during students’ “February Break.” Otherwise, the trip remains similar today to its original roots. Students in the ’80s still volunteered in rural parts of the U.S. and fundraised throughout the year for the trip. 

The Urban Immersion program, a service trip that focuses on impoverished areas in Boston, is now offered only in the winter but began in 1987 and was expanded to a spring trip as well for a few years beginning in 1990. 

“Urban Immersion is not an isolated week,” said student facilitator Ray Vaillancourt, BC ’91, in the article. “It’s not something where you go in, help a lot of people, and then leave.” Several weekend immersion experiences were also planned throughout the spring semester.

In October 1999, The Heights reported that the Natchez Immersion Trip, during which BC students volunteer at Holy Family Catholic School in Natchez, Miss., would be expanding to two trips: one over Winter Break, and a second over Spring Break. The trip continues in the same format today. 

Writers, however, have still been sympathetic to the needs of traditional spring breakers as well. In 2003, Michele Frangella gave students some helpful hints on identifying random people and places in their vacation photos. Among them: “Look at the previous three pictures in the roll to identify familiar surroundings and/or alcoholic beverages that may be the cause of your amnesia” and “give the strange people names and turn them into movie stars.” 

Heights editor Julia Wilson wrote about UGBC’s Safe Spring Break initiative in 2008. Over 150 students that year received kits that contained information on safe drinking practices, sun safety, travel tips, lip balm, granola bars, and sunscreen.

“The kits allow students to pause for a minute before Spring Break and think about the choices they’re going to make on Spring Break,” said Robyn Priest, then-assistant dean of the Alcohol Education Program.

Regardless of their destinations, students in 1992 were not hesitant to spend on their trips. 

Margie Tyler reported that everyone, from seniors to freshmen, was purchasing expensive hotel stays in Cancun and cheap tickets to Paris through BC Travel, the University’s very own travel agency. 

The agency also arranged students’ trips home or to New York and other major cities for job interviews during the break, Tyler wrote.

A 2001 “Voices from the Dustbowl” question asked students about their Spring Break mantras for that year. The six who stopped to answer the question showed a somewhat surprising sense of practicality, for college students. “Relax and be safe!” answered grad student Julie Marie Brown. Cristin Frederick, BC ’03, offered a similar bit of advice: “Don’t get too drunk, because you’ve got the next day ahead of you.” 

For Lauren Whitney and Jen Bailey, both BC ’03, Spring Break meant one thing: “Naptime!” That’s one much-longed-for feature of Spring Break that students still crave and likely will for years to come.

About Samantha Costanzo 60 Articles
Samantha Costanzo served as an editor on The Heights for three years. She's still talking to people and writing those conversations up into stories. Follow her on Twitter @SamC_Heights.