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Where the Wild Things Are

First Year Trips logo
Graphic Courtesy Dartmouth Outing Club

For the third summer in a row, over 85 percent of the incoming class has signed up for Dartmouth's First-Year Trips, the five-day outdoor orientation program run by students in the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC). Situated in various locations in New Hampshire (and one in Vermont), Trips provide students with one of their first formative Dartmouth experiences. This September, 981 of the 1,121 members of the Class of 2011 will participate in a total of 136 different excursions.

Begun in 1935, Dartmouth Trips have become one of the largest collegiate wilderness orientation programs in the nation. But, as Trips Director John Shellito '07 notes, "Trips aren't just for those interested in the outdoors. We offer white-water kayaking and advanced hiking, but also nature photography, hiking over easy terrain, and organic farming. It's about bonding and introducing people to Dartmouth." All Trips end with a night in Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, where legendary entertainment accompanies a dinner that almost always—in a nod to Theodor S. Geisel '25 (Dr. Seuss)—features green eggs and ham.

Acting Dean of the College Dan Nelson '75 says, "So much of Dartmouth's identity is its sense of place. Students who participate in Trips connect quickly and deeply to the College. When they start the fall term, they don't begin in this challenging academic environment alone: they are already part of a community that has a shared experience."

H-Croo
Members of the Dartmouth Outing Club "H-Croo" greet students last September as they arrived on campus for First-Year Trips-a crash course in the Dartmouth experience- since 1935. Students in the H-Croo answer questions, provide outdoor supplies, and, most importantly, set the appropriate tone for Trips. (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

Each Trip of six to ten students is guided by two upper-class trip leaders. These are coveted roles on campus—over 600 students applied for the 270 spots this year. Emily Frank '08 was a leader in 2006, and is now training Trip leaders. "Beginning college is overwhelming, terrifying, exciting, and wonderful," she says. "Trip leaders share knowledge, make connections, and ease concerns." Jon Hopper '08 will lead a kayaking Trip on the Connecticut River. "I want to give my Trippees [participating students] the best Trip ever, just as my leaders did for me," he says. "We were given a lot by the classes before us. Now it's our turn."

By STEVEN J. SMITH

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Last Updated: 5/30/08