Frequently Asked Questions

Participating in a service trip is a big commitment. We understand that you probably have a lot of questions! Here are some of the questions we are asked most often.

What is a service trip and why should I go on one?

A service trip places groups of college students in communities to engage in community service and experiential learning during their summer, fall, winter, weekend or spring breaks. Students perform short term projects for community agencies and learn about issues such as literacy, poverty, racism, hunger, homelessness and the environment.

The objectives of a service trip program are to involve college students in community-based service projects and to give students opportunities to learn about the problems faced by members of communities with whom they otherwise may have had little or no direct contact. Being completely immersed into diverse environments enables participants to experience, discuss, and understand social issues in a significant way. The intensity of the experience increases the likelihood that participants will transfer the lessons learned on-site back to their own communities even after the trip ends.

What can I expect from a service trip?

You can expect to be put outside of your comfort zone, but that's a good thing! You should know that a service trip is about much more than just the trip itself - you'll learn a lot about a specific social or environmental issue and what you can do to continue to make change in your community even after the service trip is over. This is why the pre-trip meetings and reflection during the trip are super important.

The service projects during a trip will vary. We do our best to line up as many high-impact volunteer opportunities as possible. Sometimes this is difficult with the size of our group and the limited amount of time we have to help an agency while we're there. This is why there will be some education and passive projects blended in with the hands-on service.

What's up with all these pre-trip meetings?

We always meet at least three times as a group before going on a trip. There are three major reasons for pre-trip meetings.

  1. It is important for you to get to know, and especially trust, the other participants before being put in unfamiliar places and situations.
  2. It is important to learn about the social/environmental issues before volunteering.
  3. There are a lot of logistical things to take care of before leaving for the trip.

Why is there an application process? Why isn't it first come, first served?

A service trip is a huge commitment of time and energy. We ask potential participants to fill out an application so that we can have the most dedicated and diverse group possible. We also recognize that it's not fair for the first people who can come up with the money to be the people who get to participate. By accepting all applications before the deadline, everyone has an equal opportunity.

Why is the cost of the trip so expensive/inexpensive?

The service trip program is subsidized by the Student Government Association. The amount of subsidy money we have determines our budget for the year. The money is spread across all participants and determines the final cost to participants. For Intercity Impact, Diversity and College Access subsidizes the majority of the cost.

Is there anything I can do to lower the cost?

You are more then welcome, and in fact we encourage you to fundraise for yourself. We can help you with samples of letters you can write to appeal to friends and family.

If the whole group is interested in doing additional fundraisers, we have ideas we can share with you and would love to support the groups efforts in any way we can.

We want our trips to be inclusive of everyone regardless of finiances so if you are interested in participating in a service trip but the cost is preventing you from applying, please talk to us. We are in the process of creating a service trip scholarship and may be able to help you. More information about scholarships coming soon.

I have a friend/relative/etc. that lives in (insert service trip destination here). Can I go out to dinner with him/her/them?

A service trip is a group experience. We prefer if you stay with the group for the entire duration; however, we also realize that it'll make you very happy to see your friend/relative. So, if there is recreational/sight seeing/unstructured time available in the itinerary, it is permissible. However, if a group meal or activity is planned for the evening, it is not permissible. It is also expected that you would return by a mutually-agreed upon time and be present for all evening group meetings.

Please talk to your trip leader before making plans with your friend/relative.

Can I stay overnight with said friend/relative?

No. The main reason for this is liability, although it is also based on the idea that this is a group experience. Also, as a university-sponsored trip, we are ultimately responsible for you and need to have you back with the group overnight.

I heard there is a "no alcohol/drug" policy. What's up with that?

Issues of legality, liability, personal safety and group cohesion are of concern when alcohol and other drugs are consumed on a service trip. When alcohol is consumed, even by those of age, it takes away from the focus of the trip which is service.

What happens if I don't follow the "no alcohol/drug" policy?

The trip leader will ask you to make arrangements to leave the trip and go home at your own expense, as soon as possible after confronting the situation. The incident will also be reported on campus to the appropriate sanctioning body.

I have other questions.

Great! We'd love to answer your questions! Please contact the Service Trip Coordinator, Alanna LeClair, by emailing sieotrip@uwsp.edu, calling 346-2260, or stopping by the Student Involvment and Employment Office.