Trips sees increase in applications

by Mika Jehoon Lee | 4/21/17 2:05am


Trip leaders and croo volunteers were selected from 632 applications.

by Morgan Moinian / The Dartmouth

Wednesday evening, 282 trip leaders and 58 Croo members were accepted as volunteers for Dartmouth Outing Club First-Year Trips, according to Trips director Doug Phipps ’17 and associate director Apoorva Dixit ’17.

Students were given the option to apply for both positions. The directorate received 632 Trip leader applications, an increase from 493 in 2016, 575 in 2015 and 618 in 2014. Meanwhile, there were 179 applications submitted for Croo volunteers, compared to 144 in 2016, 154 in 2015 and 200 in 2014.

Dixit said that the 21-member Trips directorate tried to encourage students to apply by individually contacting students, adding that the directorate was very intentional about reaching out to more than just their friends. In addition, there were two outreach coordinators, one more than in previous years, to expand the directorate’s outreach efforts. Nitasha Kochar ’19 and Kristina Heggedal ’17 are this year’s outreach coordinators.

Phipps said that the directorate also tried to reframe the message of why people should volunteer for trips.

“It is very easy for an outdoor orientation program to take on a message like, ‘This is a fun adventure’ but we wanted to angle it more towards, ‘This is how we introduce 90 percent of the incoming class,’” Phipps said.

The directorate also wanted to break Trips volunteer stereotypes and strove to select volunteers that are representative of the trippees they will be meeting, Dixit said.

“Rather than Trip leaders being outdoors people who have wilderness skills, we very much tried to let people know that Trip leaders are mentors,” Dixit said. “We wanted mentors of every identity because we have trippees of every identity.”

Newly selected Trip leader Jamie Park ’20 said that she decided to apply because she wanted to give back to the Trips program, which had offered a sense of inclusion when she first stepped on campus.

“[Trips] made me feel like I didn’t have to force myself to make friends,” Park said. “It was a seamless transition from being completely alone to having friends.”

Croo volunteer Dalia Rodriguez-Caspeta ’18 said that her attachment to Moosilauke Lodge, where she spent much of her time after her freshman fall as a member of the trail crew, motivated her to apply as a volunteer.

Dixit said that all submitted applications were read blind and scored by a reading committee comprised of the directorate and selected readers. According to the directors, when evaluating applications, the directorate looked for values such as mentorship, inclusivity and teamwork. The scores were then used by select members of the directorate to place applicants onto a Croo or a trip, Dixit added. Finally, the directorate read a non-graded section to understand applicants’ preferences and skill sets so that they could better place them.

The demographics of the applicants this year changed compared to previous years. Dixit said that this year’s directorate received many more applications from male students. However, there were still 20 percent more female students applying to be trip leaders and twice as many for Croo volunteers this year. The number of African-American applicants also increased from approximately two percent last year to over four percent this year, Dixit said. The directors noted that the majority of Trip leader and Croo volunteer applicants have consistently been white in past years, with this year being no exception. Fifty-nine percent of Trip leader applicants and 58 percent of Croo applicants were white.

This year’s directorate has implemented a few changes to the Trips program. For instance, downtime trips such as cabin camping will have an itinerary attached to them so that students can participate in activities like yoga and meditation during the day. Additionally, students in the Hiking 3 trip will trek a different course from that in previous years.

In the near future, selected Trip volunteers will participate in training sessions and workshops focused on community building, risk management and wilderness skills. They will also need to be certified in first aid and CPR before the trip begins.

Newly selected trip leader Brandon Yu ’20 said that he cannot wait to meet his trippees and become close to them, like an elder sibling.