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Program Policies and Important Dates

Joining an alternative break is a meaningful, exciting opportunity. It also involves a lot of responsibility. Please review and consider all of our policies and add important dates to your calendar before joining our program.

Important Dates
Site Leaders

September 21, 10:30 am - September 22, 4 pm weekend: Site Leader Retreat, Chippokes Plantation State Park

Alternative Fall Breaks

August 30: Fall Break Participant Applications open
September 12: Interest Meeting, 7 pm, Blow Hall 333 (rescheduled from hurricane closure)
September 15: Interest Meeting, 1 pm, Blow Hall 331
September 20:
Interest Meeting, 10 am, Blair Hall 219
** Note that attendance at one interest meeting is required for all applicants.
September 18
: Participant Applications close
September 23: Teams announced
September 25: Welcome Event & First Pre-Trip Meeting, 7 pm, Blow Hall 331; Fall Break Payments Due
September 26 - October 11: Two Additional Pre-Trip Meetings
October 12-15: Fall Breaks Travel
October 22: Fall Break Welcome Back Dinner, 7 - 8:30 pm, Tidewater B

Alternative Winter Breaks

October 7: Information session for Winter Breaks, 6 - 6:30 pm, Washington 302
October 9: Winter Break Participant Applications open
October 21: Information session for Winter Breaks, 5:30 - 6 pm, Blow 332
October 29: Information session for Winter Breaks, 7 - 7:30 pm, Blow 332, FREE PIZZA
November 1: Information session for Winter Breaks, 10 - 10:30 am, Blow 332, FREE DOUGHNUTS
November 1: Participant Applications close at 11:59 pm
November 4: Teams announced
November 6: Welcome Event & First Pre-Trip Meeting, 7 pm, Blow Hall 334
January 18-20: Winter Weekend Break Travel
January 15 - 21: Winter Weeklong Break Travel

Alternative Spring Breaks

November 15: Early decision Spring Break Participant Applications open 
November 15: Information session for Spring Breaks, 10 a.m. Blow 332
November 17: Information session for Spring Breaks, 1 p.m. Blow 331
December 3: Information session for Spring Breaks, 7 p.m. Blow 332
December 3: Early decision Spring Break Participant Applications close
December 5: Teams announced
January 17: Regular decision Spring Break Participant Applications open 
January 31: Participant Applications close
February 3: Teams announced
February 5: Welcome meeting
March 7-15: Spring Break Travel

Program Policies
Substance-Free Policy

Branch Out Alternative Breaks is an alcohol- and drug-free program. Substance-free trips allow participants to focus on the purpose and learning goals of the program and contribute to the safety and well-being of all participants, the group, and the community in which they are serving. They also express respect for the community and the host organizations with whom alternative breakers serve and interact.All participants and leaders in Branch Out Alternative Breaks programs are not to possess, purchase or consume alcoholic beverages and/or illegal drugs while participating in an alternative break trip.Consequences of violating the policy include:

  • The individual who violates the policy will be asked to leave the trip after the violation, at their own expense.
  • Individual or group meeting with Site Leaders during the trip, and meeting with Site Leaders and OCE staff upon return to campus.
  • Referral to the Dean of Students Office for violating the Student Code of Conduct's Alcoholic Beverage Policy, and Failure to Comply with Directions policy. Sanctions range from a warning to suspension.

Our commitment to being fully engaged in our work extends beyond the time we spend on alternative breaks. Alcohol and drugs are not a part of any official Branch Out team activities, including team meetings and fundraising.


Branch Out would like for all of our programs to be accessible to students with disabilities; unfortunately, many of our host communities do not have the resources to ensure accessibility for all. If you have a need for accommodation of any kind, please register with Accessibility Services and contact Melody Porter, Director of Community Engagement, so that we may begin a dialogue about the possibility of accommodations for you. Please do so as soon as possible, to avoid unnecessary delays.

Alumni Participation

Branch Out alternative breaks are student-led and intended for currently enrolled students at William & Mary. In the unusual instances when an alum graduates in the semester before their alternative break is scheduled to depart, those individuals will be allowed to participate in a trip under the following conditions:

  • Participants must abide by all Branch Out policies and guidelines.
  • Although their relationship to W&M changes after graduation, participants will be perceived as ambassadors of W&M to those in their host community, and must act as such.
  • Participants must participate fully in all pre-trip meetings and activities.
  • Participants must acknowledge in writing that they have current health insurance coverage and provide information about that coverage to Branch Out.

Students who have prepared for an alternative break but withdraw from William & Mary before the trip will not be allowed to participate.