Article by Imani R. Lewis I | Photography by Joshua Eller | Owl Staff

While many college students choose to break away from the winter chill by heading to the beaches during Spring Break, certain others choose to lend a helping hand, involving themselves in organizations like Habitat for Humanity and United Way.

With Spring Break starting to appear on the horizon, one may wonder, “How did Spring Break start and who was the genius who thought of it?” College students should be thankful for those who made Spring Break possible; many students would hardly survive the semester without that vital time-out from studying.

However, the original activities that inspired Spring Break were not focused on creating a campus-wide vacation.

In the early 1900s, many young people would take vacations during the early spring to break the winter cabin fever, but it was never a collective venture. During these trips, students would meet up with the students from other colleges before going back to school. Back in those days, the colleges were gender-segregated – all girls or all boys, no co-eds. Naturally, the little time available during the semester was used as a “hang-out” time for guys and girls.

“The original activities that inspired Spring Break were not focused on creating a campus-wide vacation.”

Spring Break would not become “official” until the 1930s. In 1928, a go-getter coach from New York’s Colgate University brought his swim team down to Ft. Lauderdale, FL to try out a new Olympic-sized facility called the Casino Pool. His idea stretched into the College Coaches’ Swim Forum, an event that brought hundreds of college swim teams to Ft. Lauderdale every Spring.

After many years of swim meets and increased numbers of students who would tag-a-long, Ft. Lauderdale became the hot spot for “spring breakers.” It resulted in institutions setting aside a certain time in the spring specifically for Spring Break. Cheri Fairchild, freshman student at HCC, is one of many students in Maryland who are hoping to travel down to Florida this Spring. “There’s the beach, the warm weather and even Disney World. It’s a great place to be [for Spring Break],” says Fairchild.

As the popularity of Spring Break grew from swim meets to the all-out party sessions that it is today, many institutions, during the 1980s and 1990s, began to offer “alternative” Spring Breaks for students who wanted to give back to the community during their rest period.

Building up neighborhoods, cleaning up the environment, and serving the impoverished are just a few of the workings that are involved in alternative Spring Break events.

Organizations like Habitat for Humanity and United Way sponsor these events in places like Texas, South Carolina, and even Florida, in order for students to have fun while they are serving.

HCC offers an alternative Spring Break, held from March 19-21 in Washington, D.C. The program fee is $50, which includes lodging, food, transportation, and activities in the area.

For more information, contact the College Life Office or call 443-412-2628 or e-mail

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