Trips Are Not Integral to the Dartmouth Experience
By Sara Kassir, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, September 21, 2012
DOC aren’t actually a “fundamental” determination of how the next four years of your life are going to go — they just so happen to be the first thing you do when you get on campus. If you didn’t love them, this is by no means an indication of whether or not you will enjoy your time at Dartmouth, or even your freshman fall. It shouldn’t be borderline blasphemy in our campus culture to not love Trips because in the long run, those few days in the wilderness are unlikely to determine character of your Dartmouth career.
It can’t be universally expected that all students will commune perfectly with nature. Kristina Williams ’16 experienced this reality on her cabin camping trip this year when activities like not showering and digging holes in the middle of the night didn’t exactly appeal to her.
“I’m from Chicago, so the outdoors experience was the hardest,” she said. “I’d never done anything like that before and it was an interesting experience, but I don’t think I’ll be hiking Moosilauke for fun.”
In other cases, sometimes nature just doesn’t want to commune with students. When Allison Wulff ’15 went on her canoeing trip last fall, the timing happened to coincide with the end of Hurricane Irene, making for a less than ideal experience.
“I can’t lie, I was not enjoying the outdoors for those five days,” she said. “We experienced everything from minor showers to hail. Our tarp broke so we didn’t have a dry place to sleep. We had to stop canoeing down river once and climb on a piece of land to wait out a lightening storm that was almost hitting us.”
But even when you love to hike and the weather cooperates, Trips can still be a disappointment if your group just doesn’t click. Jorge Bonilla Lopez ’16 was on an early trip with other fall sport athletes.
“We were all from different sports, and I feel like different teams almost have their own personalities,” he said. “We didn’t bond that much. When I got to campus, I was jealous of my friends who had these amazing connections with their trippees.”
But just because these students weren’t thrilled with every part of their Trip doesn’t mean that they walked away disheartened with Dartmouth. Wulff’s experience is proof that a few rough days in the wilderness will not be fundamental to how you view Dartmouth in the long run.
“I’m glad I did Trips because looking back I would have felt like I’d missed out on something huge,” she said. “I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet some of my best friends today. It really hasn’t affected my views on Dartmouth just because the weather wasn’t great. Everyone should take a risk and go — nine times out of 10, it will be awesome.”
Bonilla Lopez added that in spite of not meshing with his trippees, he still came back to campus excited about Dartmouth. Sure, Trips can be fun, but that doesn’t mean they’re a defining experience.
“Trips reinforced why I chose Dartmouth,” he said. “It consists of so many time-tested traditions that I feel really glad to be a part of. Things like the Lodj and safety talk show off the bravado and creativity of kids at this school.”
Williams was also able to gain perspective in spite of her anti-outdoors outlook. She counts her trippees among her best friends on campus because of their shared experiences — even the unpleasant ones.
“When it gets really dark and you have to go use the bathroom together in the woods, there are no more boundaries to your relationship,” she said.
Daniel Calano ’15 also did not click with his trippees, but this lack of connections taught him something early in his Dartmouth career.
“I didn’t think that not loving Trips was going to mean that I wasn’t going to love the school,” he said. “Not having the best trip just made me reevaluate the fact that I’m not going to be best friends with everyone I meet. It taught me that things aren’t always easy or what you expect them to be.”
A year later, Calano decided to lead a hiking trip out of a desire to facilitate the sense of community that attracted him to Dartmouth in the first place. However, he feels that it’s important for freshmen to know that not finding your niche on Trips doesn’t mean you won’t find it at Dartmouth.
“I learned that every experience at Dartmouth might not be positive, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to have the best four years of my life here,” he said. “When it comes down to it, some experiences are just going to be better than others.”