YHC Facilitates Two Alternative Spring Break Experiences

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Young Harris College Facilitates Two Alternative Spring Break Experiences

Several Young Harris College students, faculty and staff spent spring break serving others this March. One group embarked on an outreach excursion to the Len Foote Hike Inn at Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville, while another participated in a home repair program organized by the Hinton Rural Life Center in Hayesville, N.C.

Operated by the nonprofit organization Appalachian Education and Recreations Services, Inc., the Hike Inn is accessible only by foot over a moderate five-mile hiking trail that originates at the top of the falls. 

Outdoor leadership majors Diane Duffard, a senior from College Station, Texas, and Kristen Dippold, a junior from Thebes, Ill., stepped up to manage the trek. The students used their risk management training to write a “trip plan” with information about participants, locations and activities. They hosted a planning meeting, led the hike, and facilitated games and reflection time each evening.

“Shared moments and experiences like these really form and strengthen relationships between people,” said Dippold. “The secluded atmosphere allowed for time without the distractions of technology—time spent with nature and the people around you. The simplicity was refreshing and encouraging.”

The group spent the week working hard in the great outdoors. They cleared brush, helped with tree removal, split and chipped wood, and spread mulch on gardens. During an environmental tour of the LEED Gold-certified facility, the group learned about sustainability components such as the food composting system and daily mechanisms for reducing food and utensil waste.

“Students gained the satisfaction of helping a very neat place that seeks to preserve a corner of Georgia’s considerable natural resources and to serve as an advocate for sustainability and conservation,” said Center for Appalachian Studies and Community Engagement Director and Bonner Leaders Program Coordinator Rob Campbell, Ed.D.                                                                  

Closer to campus, YHC students joined more than 50 college students from across the U.S. at the Hinton Rural Life Center to complete home repair projects in the community. Students like Diane Mouangkham, a sophomore biology major from Young Harris, painted the inside of a home in Andrews, N.C.—a seemingly small act that ended up being an “amazing experience.”

“The woman who lived there was diagnosed with various diseases and isn’t able to do many things for herself,” Mouangkham explained. “On our last day, she continued to tell us how thankful she was that we painted her home. Even though things were going wrong in her life, she was still happy. I left thankful for the life I live, remembering to keep my eyes on God.”

Students spent time each day getting to know the homeowners they were helping. The participant families were invited to Hinton’s campus for a closing worship service and dinner with the volunteers.

“Hinton has a dynamic ministry offering many ways to engage the community,” said Dean of the Chapel and Minister to the College Rev. Dr. Tim Moore. “They provide our students with excellent opportunities to serve others and be transformed in the process.”

A team led by Bonner Leader Noah Calhoun, a sophomore biology major from Young Harris, completed maintenance work at the Sweetwater campus of Hayesville First United Methodist Church in Hayesville, N.C., and cut and delivered firewood to homes in the surrounding area. He has spent the past two summers serving at the Hinton Center and will return this year. 

“I’ve always had a heart for service work. You get to meet new people, hear their experiences and share your own as well,” explained Calhoun, who enjoyed working with students from Pennsylvania and Virginia. “Each group had very unique personalities and opinions that made every moment exciting and fun.”

Students cleared brush from trails at Amicalola Falls State Park during their alternative spring break.

The spring break service trip to Amicalola Falls allowed students to give back while enjoying the great outdoors.

Students took a break after clearing trails at the Hike Inn. 

Volunteers completed maintenence work at the Sweetwater campus of Hayesville First United Methodist Church.