What happens in ASB, stays in ASB

Mon, 2014/03/31
Utsav Gandhi

What an extraordinarily successful season for Alternative Spring Break! The most number of applications ever, the largest team size ever, correspondingly the biggest budget and the most successful fundraising season! This included the annual Pie in the Face with President Anderson himself dropping by ever so sportingly to get pied for charity and a Tamale Sale that was deeply appreciated by all.  This was also the year with the first ever ASB Fall Build as well as ASB Chicago, for those unable to attend the spring build trip to West Virginia. Speaking of which, is a starkly beautiful part of the country, there is no doubt. Nestled in the Appalachians, sparsely populated, beautiful scenery all around with endless fields, bubbling streams, trek worthy national parks and snow capped peaks. Serving Habitat for Humanity in this humbling setting was definitely a memorable experience for many reasons – the homeowners we were serving were so warm, affectionate, and genuinely thankful of our assistance.

Okay, so that’s what we were supposed to tell you all. After all, we did enlist heavy campus support in funding twenty nine individuals for an entire week. But honestly, what did you think – we would honestly dedicate the time, money and energy solely to volunteering efforts for an entire spring break after a gruelingly long winter in Chicago? Of course not – the twenty nine who were chosen to go beat out some really tough competition, and they deserved some non-traditional, off-the-road fun. Our holiday involved more than just the safe activities of hiking and exploring the national parks. Sure, we visited the reputed tourist locations of Seneca Rocks and Blackwater Falls, but our trips also included several dangerous detours, shortcuts, venturing into restricted areas and unexpected encounters with the wild. One of our hikes was interrupted by a terrible snowstorm, and to navigate the mountain's crevasses, we decided to rope ourselves together. Suddenly, the unthinkable happened. One of our trip members, Omar, fell, injuring his leg. We couldn't continue climbing. We decided to lower him down the mountain, and once he had anchored himself, to climb down. However, after the snowstorm hit, he was left dangling mid-air. In order to survive, we had to do the unthinkable: we had to cut the rope. Miraculously, he landed in a crevice and was able to use the remains of the rope to lower himself down the mountain.

That wasn’t the last of our troubles, though. We went hiking on the second to last day, again, and unknown to us no one had ever been down this one side trail we were exploring. At many points, huge trees were down across the trail, which was etched narrowly into a ridge side with a rocky creek 50 to 80 feet directly below. This was extremely rough going. Stranded in the woods several miles outside civilization, for hours without food, water or warm clothing, surviving by drinking chemically “ambiguous” water and taking shelter in a hollowed out tree, we even had search parties dispatched for us covering a 4-square-mile area. At the first sense of sunlight, we were finally able to flash a signal using the glare off a cell phone screen and a knife blade to a helicopter. On this trip, we also learned that “playing dead” is only effective at discouraging grizzlies – not all kinds of bears, and then only under certain circumstances. For now, I’ll say that attacks could potentially be avoided altogether with pepper spray, but you’ll have to ask us more in person about this – what happens at ASB stays at ASB, and we really don’t want to give out all the details publicly.

In the future, we recommend going forward a little more cautiously if you’re considering the application for Alternative Spring Break. Not all our stories are documented, and remember – in the end, you always sign the liability waiver; and more importantly, there really are no rules with spring break. See you next year!