Getting Outside Comes Naturally
By Claire Groden, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, July 13, 2012
Dartmouth students love to complain about the weather. Even though we should be used to it by now, it’s the same every year. We think the fall is too cold, we realize it gets even colder in the winter and even spring is too rainy and cold. Summer therefore poses a pretty big problem, because most of us are not prepared for weather we like. After recovering from the shock of sunlight, warmth and a non-combative relationship with nature, sophomores have taken the cue to leave the library for greener pastures.
Since its beginnings in 1972, the same year the College became coeducational, summer at Dartmouth has revolved around being outside.
“Strips,” or sophomore summer trips, began in 1999. Aiming to relive their first days at Dartmouth, 20 students went on a hiking trip together over interim. The trips have since grown in popularity, variety and size, with over 180 members of the Class of 2014 participating this year.
Strips are advertised as an opportunity for students to meet peers at the start of the summer and appreciate the outdoors. But after perusing The Dartmouth’s previous coverage of Strips, I’ve deduced that the traditional purpose of Strips has come down to one thing: nudity. From skinny-dipping and skinny-raiding to skinny-standing-around-campfires and skinny-eating, there seems to have been quite a lot of stripping during Strips. Talk about a Dartmouth tradition.
An older and defunct tradition of sophomore summer and the outdoors is Tubestock, the summer’s big weekend now celebrated as Fieldstock. Tubestock began in 1986 and was marked by swimming, drinking and general river festivities. Needless to say, state and local officials were not keen on the combination of alcohol, students and water, and Tubestock was shut down in 2006.
In an attempt to maintain the sophomore summer tradition, the event was moved to dry land and became Fieldstock.
The first Fieldstock featured chariot races, a barbecue at the Bema, mud wrestling, volleyball and music. The chariot races, a former Green Key tradition revived after 22 years of dormancy, involved a competition between homemade chariots consisting of PVC pipes, couch cushions and other haphazard equipment. The College banned chariot races in 1984 because due to concerns for the riders’ safety, but Fieldstock revived the tradition.
Recent Fieldstocks have vastly increased the length and variety of events offered. Even though the original outdoors big weekend is a thing of the past, the revamped festivities continue to take advantage of Hanover’s surroundings.
Recent events have included barbecues, capture-the-watermelon games, eating contests and Olympic games that culminated in chariot races on the Green.
Sophomore summer’s connection to the outdoors can also be found in the newfound love many members of the Class of 2014 have found for the Connecticut River. Students interviewed by The Mirror agreed that spending time in the river has been an integral part of their summer experience.
Adrian Ferrari ’14 said the addition of the river to the Dartmouth social scene in the summer helps students “calm down” and do something more memorable with their time on campus.
“I think the only pressure I like at Dartmouth is the pressure to go to the river,” he said.
Olivia Dahl ’14 agreed and said to enjoy the river fully, students should complete the Ledyard Challenge. For those who aren’t aware, the Ledyard Challenge entails swimming across the river to Vermont and then running back across the Ledyard Bridge in the buff. Dahl asked me to warn readers to beware of poison ivy on the Vermont side of the river.
Victor Hollenberg ’14, who is frequently complimented for the descriptions of Upper Valley scenery he gives as an Admissions tour guide, said sophomore summer is the perfect time to connect with nature, “regardless of whether it’s hanging out on a front lawn in Hanover or hiking to the top of Gile Mountain.”
Sophomore summer is our opportunity to finally reap some nature karma after months of making it through the cold. Take the chance to really appreciate the beautiful Upper Valley, especially the river. You’ve gotta do the Ledyard Challenge once, after all.