What is the Appalachian Experience?

The Appalachian Experience is a Spring Break immersion program that is committed to serving with and for others while learning about the culture and concerns of the people of the Appalachian region.  Participants will meet together several times throughout the year for preparation, education, and team-building, all of which lead toward the spring break immersion experience in which they seek to learn, serve, and grow in relationship with the people they encounter.

Please note that the deadline for application to APEX 2021-2022 has passed.
We hope that you will consider applying next year!


Appalachian Experience Mission Statement:

The Appalachian Experience (APEX) is  dedicated to immersing in the region of Appalachia and encountering the communities who call Appalachia home. APEX invites students to build community both on campus and with the people of the Appalachian Region through kinship and encounter, and to continue living in solidarity upon return.

APEX is guided by the mission of Saint Joseph’s University and the Catholic Jesuit tradition. Our primary areas of focus are: 

  • Recognizing the unconditional and universal dignity of all people and in all of creation
  • Fostering community growth in the spirit of solidarity
  • Committing to education and action concerning the issues of poverty and injustice in the region
  • Furthering the faith, spirituality, or inner life of all participants

Our Pillars:

  • Community
  • Kinship
  • Encounter
  • Justice
  • Learning

Appalachian Experience FAQs:

1. What will I be doing there?

Typically most days will include engaging in some form of service.  At some sites, this may entail physical work such as house building, painting, mulching, or laying concrete, while other sites may have different and varied needs.  After each day of service, there will be time for community-building, reflection, and relaxation. In addition, there is generally one cultural day dedicated to learning about the area you are visiting.

2. How much does the trip cost?

The total cost for the program is $600, which includes food, lodging, transportation, supplies, and program fees. When submitting the application, there is a $100 deposit required, which is non-refundable. A second payment of $500 is due in late November. Participants are encouraged to fundraise for this additional payment and information on fundraising will be provided at the first meeting.

3. What do I pack?

Each set of site leaders will be sending out a packing list to each participant. Typically, it is one suitcase/duffel bag and a small carry-on bag. Some items include: Jeans, boots, work-shirts, hats, gloves, and clothes to wear after each day.

4. Do I need to be religious?

Students come to the program with many different experiences of faith and at many different points along their personal journeys. All are welcomed and embraced right where they are. The only expectation in this regard is that each participant be open to the full APEX experience, which includes reflection and prayer, and be respectful and receptive to the experience of others. The program is based in Campus Ministry and is rooted in the Catholic, Jesuit values of service, solidarity and the call to seek and discover God present in all things, people and places.

5. If my son or daughter gets hurt, will they be treated properly?

Yes. Before the trip, we collect each particpant's insurance information. In addition, each Leader and Adult Facilitator will have all the information regarding the closest hospital, police station, and all Saint Joseph's University contacts. If your son or daughter gets hurt, they will be taken care of immediately.

For More Information, Please Contact:

Program Coordinator:

Tricia Riordan


2021-2022 Student Peer Ministers:

Elise Welsh
Nick Palermo
Sam Outten