A student guide: four days of fall freedom

Fall Break may seem like an awkward period of four days in the middle of October for new students but for upperclassmen, it is a much needed and expected break. Often, students who live in bordering states take advantage of the long weekend to go home for some R & R. And those who are willing to sacrifice rest in order to travel further take the red eye to visit friends and family in the mid-west or on the east coast. However, not everyone wants to go home or is able to travel far and wide to get there. But alas! Students are in luck because Puget Sound offers many diverse activities during the Fall Break weekend.

With the spectacular mountains, water, and beaches the Pacific Northwest has to offer, Puget Sound Outdoors (PSO) has lined up several overnight trips which appeal to all numbers of outdoor enthusiasts on campus. This break, PSO is planning to send a backpacking trip to the Olympic Coast, climbers to Oregon’s Smith Rock, and surfers to the Washington coast. The backpacking and climbing trips will last the entire four days, while the surfing trip will be about a day and a half, says PSO trip coordinator, Joe Goldes. He also describes these PSO trips as the “last hurrah before the rain comes” and encourages students to get out and enjoy this beautiful area. These trips are led by PSO leaders, many of whom are also Passages leaders. In fact, if you are interested in becoming certified to lead outdoor trips, the Outdoor Leadership Experience or “OLE” training takes place during Fall Break as well. Applications can be obtained by contacting Justin Canny, the assistant director in charge of outdoor programs at

The PSO leaders spend countless hours planning the trips to make sure that everything runs smoothly and that everyone feels comfortable and safe. Don’t have a sleeping bag? No problem! PSO rents out most gear at a low cost. So there is really no excuse not to get outside, if you want to. Joe emphasized that fall break is a great time to “get people off campus and obtain a learning experience outside of the classroom” because students spend so much time in a classroom during the week that getting outdoors can be a completely rejuvenating experience which will prepare them for the remaining part of the semester.

For more information about PSO and their Fall Break activities, go check out the Expy located down the passage between the OT and PT buildings across from the swimming pool. There are some fees required to attend the trips but PSO supplies much of the equipment, food and transportation. You need just bring yourself and a sense of adventure!

For those students looking to stay in the Tacoma-area and sleep in their own bed at night, the Social and Service Justice department or SSSJ runs an Alternative Fall Break (AFB) program every year. AFB is a community service-oriented program which in the past has volunteered at organizations such as L’arche farm, Saint Leo’s soup kitchen, and Franke Tobey Jones retirement community. Students meet in the morning and are transported together to the location, where lunch is provided by SSSJ. The interfaith community service coordinator, Zach Lam says that this year, AFB will begin on Sunday October 17th with three community service opportunities: one Monday morning, the second Monday afternoon and the final activity wrapping up on Tuesday afternoon (the locations are TBD). Zach mentioned that this year the program is focused on students being able to learn something about themselves during the process. “AFB is about having fun and learning to understand your own identity and seeing the similarities and difference between yourself and others.”

To learn more about the Alternate Fall Break program or to sign up to participate, please contact Skylar Bihl at