The 2016 Camden B.A.S.I.C. group. Derek Puff (front row, third from the left) and Gabrielle Literman, Graduate-Commuter Student Affairs Coordinator (top row, fourth from the right) served as chaperones.

My involvement with the B.A.S.I.C. program began approximately four years ago after my Director, John Spanbauer, participated in one of the trips to Panama. The impact it had on him and the stories that he shared about his time in Panama made me want to get involved with this program.

The first time I participated was in January of 2013 when I chaperoned a group of NU students to Camden, NJ. To say this was an eye opening experience is an understatement. I have always been involved with service in our community but it was shocking to see the conditions that the people of Camden lived in and the rate of homelessness and drug addiction. This trip had a profound impact on my life and the way in which I have continued to live my life.

Since my first trip to Camden I have returned two more times, in January 2015 and again in January 2016. Each trip has been a unique experience and provided me with amazing memories and friendships. Since I began my involvement with the B.A.S.I.C. program it has evolved in a number of ways. The participation from students has grown and this past year was without a doubt the largest amount of students that I have seen participate. I believe this is due to the great leadership from the Campus Ministry office as well as the word of mouth exposure that comes from the students and staff that have taken part in these life changing trips.

Everyone at Niagara University is involved with service in one way, shape, or form. What I believe differentiates the B.A.S.I.C. trips from other service opportunities is the fact that the students are not participating to satisfy a course requirement or earn hours for a club they are involved with. These students are involved because they genuinely care and want to help those in need. When most would be happy staying home for that extra week during their winter recess, these students come back and use that week as a time of service. As an employee or student at Niagara University I feel that these trips greatly connect our roles as members of Vincentian community with a duty that we have to help those less fortunate. Every person that works or attends this University should involve themselves with this program and I hope to continue my participation as long as I am a member of this community.

~Derek Puff, Assistant Director of Recreation and Intramurals, Kiernan Recreation Center

For more information about the B.A.S.I.C. program, click here.

To participate in a B.A.S.I.C. Service Trip, contact Campus Ministry.