Volunteering is a way of learning to make our lives into a process of just giving and being willing. Not just willing to do this or that, simply willing.
Bulls Service Breaks (BSB) is a volunteering program at the University of South Florida. The program's mission is to raise awareness of social issues through education, service, and cultural exchange on the local, national and international level. Each year, students apply to go on a trip where they volunteer for a specific cause. Each trip is composed of 9 participants, 2 trip leaders, and one professional advisor. Trip participants are selected after an interview process and matched to a trip based on their interest in the social issue of their choice.
I chose to participate in the Environmental trip since I'm a nature lover. We were required to attend all mandatory BSB events, including trainings, meetings and participating in a pre-service event approximately two months before going on the trip. This was to facilitate bonding with team members. We were informed that we would be volunteering in Tennessee to work on the Cumberland Trail. I had never been outside Florida since I came to the U.S last year. So, this was an opportunity for me to explore another state.
The day finally came when we had to wake up early and head towards Marshall Student Center to join the rest of the group. We were going to spend the whole week at Fort Bluff Camp in Dayton, Tennessee where part of the trail is located below the camp.
The Cumberland Trail Project
For this trip, we contributed towards building the Cumberland Trail which is an ambitious hiking trail project under development in East Tennessee. When completed, the trail will extend 300 miles from its northern terminus in the Cumberland Gap National Park to its southern terminus at the Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park. This extensive trail is being constructed and maintained largely by volunteers from Tennessee and across the nation, organized and managed by the Cumberland Trails Conference (CTC).
The CTC host an Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program called BreakAway for college students. Students and volunteers stay in East Tennessee and participate in trail building/maintenance for a week. In our case, we stayed at Fort Bluff Camp. After over eight hours of driving, we reached the camp around 6 PM. We were totally exhausted from the long drive. However, this place did not fail to impress!!
There were so much stuff to do in terms of activities. They had a mini golf, an outdoor basketball court and a few other games (which we only got time to play on the first & last day). After settling down, we took our time to explore the camp. At night, the community members gave a short presentation on the Cumberland Trail and told us what to expect throughout the week. They also showed us various tools that we would be using to build the trail. Danny, one of the CTC staff made us a campfire that night. After that, we called it an early night since we badly needed some rest after this long and exhausting journey.