A new kind of sleepover

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Kristen Rupp (left), and Elizabeth Cantu (right)

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Kristen Rupp (left), and Elizabeth Cantu (right)

Alyssa Rettelle

Every year, twice a year, Grand Valley State University holds overnight service trips where roughly 24 students head out into the Grand Rapids area to make a difference in the community. This weekend, 20 students signed up to clean up Kent County Parks.

Laura Murnen is a graduate assistant in the Community Service Learning Center that coordinates all the events on and off campus. She and the volunteers partnered with Kent County Parks and their work on combatting invasive species.

“We went around with their volunteers and pulled weeds that were taking over. So we weeded and helped to beautify the grounds in hopes to help them control the area,” Murnen said.

While volunteering is what they sign up for, Murnen said students get a lot more out of the overnight trip experience than just that.

“Overnights are nice in the sense that it creates a bonding experience and fellowship between the students,” Murnen said. “We meet each other and hang out and learn what service learning is and then we get food and walk around downtown and play games. This is just a way to meet people you wouldn’t have otherwise, and it is just a really meaningful experience.”

The CSLC generally takes a different batch of students on each of these trips, though there have been some regulars. Murnen said they try to get different students each time because they bring in different experiences and it creates a different atmosphere for every trip.

In the past, the CSLC has taken overnight trips to volunteer at Feeding America, YWCA, Rays of Hope and the Clark Retirement Community.

Though the next overnight service trip is not yet scheduled, student may find more information about the overnight trips in general at www.gvsu.edu/service.