DOC Strips draw 180 to outdoors
By Matthew Mc Nierney, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, July 3, 2012
More than 180 members of the Class of 2014 made their way into the New Hampshire wilderness this weekend to take part in “Strips,” a collection of outdoor trips that has become a staple of sophomore summer, according to Reed Wommack ’14, who co-directed this year’s Strips with Molly McBride ’14.
While Strips has existed in some form since 1999, this year’s directors oversaw the evolution of the program to focus more on class bonding and unity, and less on outdoor partying, Wommack said.
Three years ago, the tone of the program was much “wilder” and “rowdier,” he said. While these aspects of Strips had been significantly reduced last year, the directors, with guidance from Dartmouth’s Outdoor Programs Office, made the decision to put the “final blow” to that culture, according to Wommack.
“As the program has grown and as we want it to continue to grow, it’s not safe and not healthy to be in an atmosphere that encourages alcohol use out in the wilderness,” he said.
Participation in Strips grew significantly this year — over 250 applications were submitted for approximately 162 spots, according to Wommack.
Due to a few late cancellations, about 150 students and 30 leaders participated.
The growth is in part due to the larger size of the Class of 2014 but also speaks to the class’s interest in “outdoor adventuring,” Wommack said. A strong advertising push — including a student-directed music video to Natasha Bedingfield’s song “Strip Me” that the directors put on YouTube — contributed to the high participation rate.
While the similarities to Dartmouth Outing Club First-Year Trips are numerous, all Strips leaders interviewed said that they enjoyed the sophomore summer trips significantly more than their trips as new students. While the pressure of being in a completely new environment can be stressful for freshmen, being an already-adjusted Dartmouth student allows Strips to be more comfortable, according to Alice Morrison ’14, who led the flatwater kayaking trip.
“It was so much better than freshman Trips because you weren’t so scared and nervous the whole time,” Morrison said. “It wasn’t the same role as a freshman leader where you’re facilitating relationships.”
Morrison said that although she had never seen most of the other students on her trip before and nearly all of the 12 members of the trip did not know each other, the students bonded quickly.
“Being all Dartmouth students gives you so many experiences in common that you can’t help but get along with people,” Morrison said.
While all Strips are centered around a specific outdoor activity, for most sophomores, the experience is about meeting new people whom they would not otherwise have had the chance to meet, according to Winnie Yoe ’14, who led the bike and hike trip.
“It’s an opportunity for people to step aside from their busy schedules and be out with people and try to branch out,” Yoe said. “It wasn’t about hiking — it was about being outside with a group of people that you don’t know really well.”
Because the participants are already familiar with the College and its surroundings, Wommack and McBride encouraged trip leaders to keep their plans flexible and “within reason,” though specific routes were planned for each trip, Morrison said.
Based on a suggestion by one of the trip’s participants, Yoe’s group decided to stray from their original path so that they could sleep in a treehouse built by an engineering class.
Trip leaders said that the majority of students on their trips had no experience with the activity they signed up to do but thatmost were still enthusastic.
Even though a climbing trip witnessed someone falling right at the start of their trip and only one of the trip participants had prior climbing experience, they were willing to learn, according to Jay Dumanian ’14, one of the leaders of the climbing trip.
“Everyone was really excited to learn new things, even though it was a really hot day,” Dumanian said.
Strips ran more smoothly than expected, and with just one miscommunication with Ledyard Canoe Club that caused a delay in getting kayak rentals for the kayaking trip, Wommack said.