You Just Got Tripp'd

by Parker Richards | 3/28/16 6:35pm

I’m a klutz. Over the course of my first-year trip, I sprained one ankle, rolled the other and lost roughly two square inches of skin to a hastily applied bandage over the rolled ankle. The side-effect of my clumsiness is that I was less surprised by my trip’s raid than my fellow trippees, as I was informed a raid was occurring, partially to arrange the aforementioned bandage.

Still, the sudden appearance of a squadron of flair-bedecked strangers on a bridge in the high pass between Smarts Mountain and Mount Cube was a shock, as were their riddles and their questions. This was my introduction to raids during Dartmouth Outing Club First-Year Trips, the time-honored tradition that, to an outsider, would likely appear strange — perhaps even more bizarre than a few days earlier when I pulled up to Robo to see people wearing tutus and chicken costumes doing the Salty Dog Rag dance.

Julietta Gervase ’16 raided a trip after her sophomore summer, which she said is common for students, when she was on campus working for reunions. She and two other friends, who were also on campus, decided to raid a trip when they had some free time one afternoon. As is the case with raids, they created a wacky backstory for who they were.

“We spent a few minutes brainstorming what we were going to do and decided to do an ‘explorer raid’ where we pretended we were explorers looking for Hawaii and then showed up with Hawaiian pizza from EBAs,” Gervase said.

Gervase and her fellow raiders attempted to organize an exploration-themed raid, but she said it wasn’t as smooth as it could have been. The group attempted to “army crawl” through an open field toward the incoming freshmen, who were members of the class of 2018. Unfortunately, Gervase explained, it didn’t work out quite as they had hoped.

“They were watching us the whole time,” Gervase said, laughing. “It was kind of mortifying, actually.”

Still, the Hawaiian pizza that they brought went over well.

Like most raids organized independent of the DOC, Gervase opted to target a trip led by a friend. That wasn’t the only way her raid exemplified the tradition. Most raiders opt to bring food (particularly of the sort that is not available in the middle of a first-year trip) with them, wear flair and befuddle the new students, usually by playing games and crafting elaborate scenarios to explain their presence in the area.

Julia Decerega ’18 raided a trip last spring, and she dressed as a flair-rich pirate and pretended to attempt a coup d’etat on a trip’s “boat” (actually more of a makeshift shelter). Like Gervase, she raided a trip that one of her friends was leading.

“We got pizza, dressed up in flair and we went to surprise them,” Decerega explained.

She said that she’d had a very positive experience being raided on her own trip the year before.

“My trip was raided when I did it, and I thought it was a lot of fun,” Decerega said. She explained that the break from Annie’s Mac and Cheese was welcome as the raiders of her trip supplied pizza.

Most raids attempt to build a positive experience for incoming students, introducing them to the culture of Dartmouth and the College’s more unconventional eccentricities. Gervase explained that raids exemplify the free-spirited nature of Trips and aims to put incoming freshmen — who are often intimidated — at ease.

“Maybe [it’s] just an introduction to how weird and trolly we are,” Gervase said. “It’s just a very concrete thing that people do just for love of Dartmouth, or love of their friends who are leaders or love of trippees. It’s just something that’s just very founded in a lot of very warm, positive feelings.”

For Gervase, raiding a trip was a new experience. Unlike Decerega, she had not experienced a raid as a freshman on her own trip. Vox Croo, the DOC group responsible for supporting trips in the wild, raids most trips in the Hanover-Moosilauke area. Vox Croo also attempts to do vital resupply efforts as a part of its raids, bringing in water, iodine tablets and — for those of us with delicate ankles — medical care.

Grant Croo attempts to raid most trips in the Second College Grant, but that feat is not always possible given the volume of trips in the area and their other support responsibilities. Due to this, and sometimes geographical limitations, not every freshman trip is raided.

Raiding is an aspect unique to the Trips experience. While most people involved with Trips, from its directorate to Trip leaders to Croo members, receive extensive training, no such procedure exists for impromptu raid leaders, Gervase said. For that reason, there is now a database of trips online, and the DOC encourages potential raiders to sign up online, notifying the organization of their plans, said Dru Falco ’18, vice president of the DOC.

The coordination efforts also help level the playing field for trips that are further afield. Traditionally, trips nearest campus are raided at a disproportionately higher level than others, Gervase noted.

Falco said that raiding can be very diverse, ranging from people dressing up in costume to conjuring elaborate stories about their wild backgrounds.

“Someone came up dressed as a farmer, and had someone dressed as a cow next to them and they were like, ‘Oh watch my cow, I’m going to go do something else,’ and the cow sat with them for awhile and the guy came back with snacks,” she said.

Falco’s own first-year trip was raided, as was a trip she led the following year.

On her trip, the raiders came up to her cabin all dressed in flair, and they said their names were Pan, the god of nature, some other strange names, and Sophie. Falco said they claimed to be from the Dartmouth Nature Appreciation Group, NAG, and they read Falco and her trippees books. One raider later recited a poem he had memorized.

The next year, she lost her composure as a trip leader and laughed throughout the raid on her trip, which her friend was performing. She said this spoiled the surprise for her trippees, since they knew the ruse wasn’t real. Overall, they still responded positively and found humor in the raid. She added that in her experience, most freshmen respond this way.

In the end, however, raids are about fun, food and introducing incoming freshmen to the wild, wacky world of Dartmouth.

In Decerega’s words, “Who doesn’t like pizza when they’re in the middle of the woods?”