DOC trips introduce students to the wilderness and each other

by Jason Casell | 7/26/95 5:00am

Dartmouth students do not usually start life as a freshman but as a "trippee."

Spending three days of your life climbing, canoeing, hiking, dancing and getting to know one another in the wilderness of New Hampshire provides most students their first glimpse of Dartmouth.

Beginning in August, more than 90 percent of the Class of 1999 will leave their domestic habits behind and plunge into the wilderness.

Almost 1,000 freshmen have signed up for outing club trips with more applications coming in daily, according to Freshmen Trips Coordinator Heather Halstead '96.

The Dartmouth Outing Club, the largest student organization on campus, plans trips for incoming freshmen as a way for students to become more familiar with each other and their surroundings before freshman orientation begins.

The DOC offers eight different alternatives for the nine sections of trips, starting Aug. 31 and ending Sept. 13, Halstead said.

Among the choices for the newest members of the Dartmouth community are hiking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, whitewater canoeing, mountain biking and fishing.

No experience is necessary for any of the trips, but preference is given to experienced students in the non-hiking sections, Halstead said.

"Hiking is definitely the most popular of all the trips," she said. Many students who do not choose to hike will be placed in hiking sections due to the low availability of the other trips, she said.

Within hiking sections, there are five different levels to accommodate participants' varying abilities. Students may opt for the leisurely or easy trips, which consist of days-hikes and sleeping in cabins, or the moderate section, which is the most popular.

More adventurous types may want to put their bodies to the test and choose the strenuous or advanced sections.

Trips range in size from five to 15 freshmen and are led by either one or two upperclassmen trip leaders, Halstead said.

The group of 150 leaders have been undergoing extensive training this summer to prepare for their three-day trips, she said.

Freshmen will arrive on campus the night before their trips are scheduled to begin and will be greeted by their trip leaders, who will be able to help them learn the Salty Dog Rag, a famous Dartmouth square dance, among other things.

Bonding activities will take place in the Bema, otherwise known as the Big Empty Meeting Area, and freshmen will complete the first graduation requirement of their Dartmouth careers -- the mandatory 50-yard swim test.

A detailed list of required items for the wilderness will be sent to freshmen next month. Halstead's recommendation is to pack sparingly but sensibly.

"People tend to not bring enough warm clothing," she said. "Cotton is not enough -- they should make sure they are prepared for chilly weather."

After a quick breakfast, the trips begin early the next morning. Urban life will quickly fade into memory as freshmen are enveloped in the scenic wonder of the outdoors.

Depending on the trip, students will either sleep in DOC cabins or under the stars. Campfires, storytelling and singing the Alma Mater often become commonplace by the end of the trip.

Following two nights and three days of outdoor activities, all of the sections will converge at the College-owned Moosilauke Ravine Lodge at the base of 4,800-foot Mt. Moosilauke, 42 miles northeast of Hanover.

"It is a good chance for people to come together," Halstead said. "Freshmen will be introduced to Dartmouth traditions."

Halstead said she did not want to divulge too much information about the night at the Lodge because "it is better kept a surprise."

A large meal is planned for the evening, and "tripees" will be treated to entertaining service by the lodge crew, a group of 40 upperclassmen preparing meals and planning activities at the Lodge, she said.

The Lodge is open from May until mid-October. Other DOC cabins are also available to students throughout the year. Students must make reservations with the DOC prior to visiting the cabins.