From left: Virginia Loke, BellaDonna Sins, Jiin Jeong, Safa Ahmed, Jack Scacco, Elisa Taylor, Jaden Liu, and Matthew Tom.

Eight students launched Hamilton’s inaugural Alternative Fall Break trip with a four-day visit to Double H Ranch in the Adirondacks, Oct. 11-15.  The camp was founded by Charles R. Wood, and actor Paul Newman as a part of his SeriousFun network of camps for children with life threatening illnesses. Since 1993, the camp grounds host summer programs for children with life threatening illnesses, and reopens its doors in the winter for adaptive winter sports programs, and during the spring and fall for various community weekends.

Alternative Fall Break is modeled after the successful Alternative Spring break, a student-run organization that since 1993, provides community service in New York State and throughout the southern United States.  It is advised by Hamilton's Community Outreach and Opportunity Project (COOP).

Hamilton student volunteers were Virginia Loke ’19, BellaDonna Sins ’19, Jiin Jeong ‘21, Safa Ahmed ’21, Jack Scacco ’21, Elisa Taylor-Yeremeeva ’20, Jaden Liu ’21, and Matthew Tom ’20. 

The students volunteered at a Family Memorial Weekend, which brought together families of children who had passed away from these life threatening illnesses. Each family was assigned a volunteer as their "family pal" to talk to during meal times, and care for the young children accompanying the parents on the trip.

The student-volunteers also aided in the various activities the Double H hosted. Highlights included catching participants of the high-ropes course, creating marshmallow catapults for a game of battleship, hosting scavenger hunts, making ‘s’mores, and organizing the toy room. “Despite the sadness in the weekend, there was a great sense of comfort felt by the families entering a space in which their struggles of dealing with the passed child where familiar and shared,” said trip co-leader Matthew Tom ’20. 

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