The classic college spring break has never quite fit with me. Sure, it would be fun to go somewhere warm and exotic. It would be great to relax for a week and spend time with my friends. But it is expensive, I can’t imagine partying for a week, and I really enjoy doing constructive things. So while my peer fled south I drove 9 hours up to southern Maine to build houses with Habitat for Humanity. Every year Gettysburg College’s Habitat for Humanity chapter sends a group on a spring break trip. This year I was one of 7 students who participated in the trip and also the only one who was not a freshman.
It is a common theme that people sarcastically joke about how going north to do manual labor is obviously an ideal spring break, but in some ways it is true. For me, manual labor has a kind of calming effect on me. Whereas my semester is otherwise filled with mental overload and physical degradation, working with H4H gives me a chance to relax and enjoy the simple things in life. There are many types of fulfillment in life and the satisfaction I get from writing an excellent report is very different from that which I get from building something with my hands. Moreover, I know that through H4H I am supporting a great humanitarian cause. When you combine the calming physical work with the satisfaction and mental relaxation it is easy to see why I participated in this opportunity.
Throughout the week we primarily put siding on a Habitat house in Freeport, Maine. I did a number of other tasks as well, but most of my time was spent either installing siding or building the scaffolding we used to reach it. It was a bit scary being over 30 feet in the air on wobbly scaffolding, and at first I was a little unsure. I am not afraid of heights, but I do fear falling so wobbly or unsecured platforms tend to freak me out. Of course my adventurous-ness and love of climbing would never let this small fear stop me, and eventually I became use to the scaffolding.
Overall, the week was great. In the evenings I managed to complete some academic work and read a lot of The Girl who Played with Fire while still leaving time to socialize and watch Goodwill Hunting, The Lion King, and other movies. I feel like this trip has been a great blend of relaxation and accomplishment, and I couldn’t be more happy with my choice of spring break trips!