It was two weeks before spring break and I was not about to spend it at home for the third year in a row. It was too late and expensive to plan a tropical getaway, so I did a quick Google search of spring break ideas. The one that really stood out to me was a spring break trip with Habitat for Humanity.
I was a little nervous about going with complete strangers, so I decided to go through my school. Penn State sent out a number of trips to different locations, but I ended up going to Pasco County, Fl. with 13 complete strangers.
We met up at Chipotle in downtown State College the Friday of spring break, and started our 21-hour drive to Florida at midnight. Needless to say, we got to know each other fairly well on the drive down.
With seven people in each car, some of us slept, others played get-to-know-you icebreaker games, and others just bonded over our favorite 90’s boy bands. When we finally arrived in sunny Florida, I already felt a special connection with these people, and couldn’t wait to spend the rest of the week with them.
That night, we bonded the Penn State way with a game of kings and cozied off to bed for a good night’s sleep. The next day, after a long debate, we decided to go to the zoo.
Monday morning rolled around and we were off to our first day of work. We drove to the site for orientation at 8 a.m. and met all the other groups we’d be working with over the next five days. We discovered that the people who were training us were also volunteers. They were retired carpenters, contractors and just people who wanted to better the community, living in trailers near the work site.
Every day we had a morning meeting before we all went off to work. One of the volunteers would step forward to lead the meeting. He or she would explain what each group would do that day and then share a personal story or prayer.
Our Penn State group got particularly close with one of these volunteers, Bob. He taught us everything from how to use the construction tools to how to really appreciate everything in our lives.
On this trip I learned more then just the correct way to hammer a nail. I learned about teamwork, connections and most importantly, friendship. So what do you get when you put together a tomboy, 2 mom-types, 2 funny guys, a couple, 2 sorority girls, 4 foreigners and a freshman? You get an amazing group of strangers, trying to make the most out of their spring break.