Strips: the natural way to start summer

by Carolyn Zhou | 6/29/17 8:35am

by Paula Mendoza / The Dartmouth

Sophomore trips, commonly referred to as “Strips,” has the potential to be the largest gathering of a class between matriculation and commencement. Held at the beginning of sophomore summer, this three day outdoor experience means different things to the people who participate. Strips co-director Paula Mendoza ’19, leaders Fisher Katlin ’19 and Alex Derenchuk ’19, and Strippee Diana Ge ’19 reflected on their experiences participating in this year’s Strips.

Ge explained her motivation to sign up for Strips.

“I wanted to meet new people, which didn’t really shake out because I only met one new person on my trip,” she said. 

She already knew both of her Strip leaders, which might have been a contributing factor.

Derenchuk, who led a rock climbing trip, said that his favorite part of Strips was the class bonding.

“I met people I had heard of but had never talked to before ... Being around people for three days, you just get to know them decently well,” he said. “That was definitely the biggest part of it. I feel like the climbing part of it ... was secondary.”

His other motivations were to enjoy the outdoors and beautiful weather, despite the thunderstorm and flash flood warnings that occurred during this year’s Strips.

“I’m super psyched about getting out there in the summer because we have the whole summer to get outside, while we only have like half of fall before it starts getting too cold, and maybe the last quarter of the spring,” Katlin said. “Strips sets off the right tone of sophomore summer, to take advantage of the outside.”

Derenchuk added that Strips is a great way to take a risk and be exposed to new outdoor activities.

“One motif of sophomore summer that a lot of people talk about is trying new things,” Derenchuk said. “Strips is a great way to facilitate that. My trip had never climbed rocks before ... they unlocked new possibilities ... some of them expressed interest in continuing [after Strips].”

Exploring new activities was not limited to Strippees. Katlin, who led mountain biking, had only ever mountain biked once before Strips, and his co-leader had even less experience.

“In the beginning, I wasn’t super psyched with how it was going to go ... we didn’t know what we were doing going in,” he admitted. “[For Strips] we’re all kind of friends already, so it’s sort of less formal and people take it less seriously. It actually turned out to be fantastic.”

Mendoza, who directed Strips along with David Ringel ’19 and Ivan Cornish Morales ’19, emphasized that Strips is not supposed to mirror the First-Year Trips experience exactly. She noted that one way Strips differed was that there isn’t the same hierarchy between leader and trippee.

Turnout this year declined from last year, from 120 to 85, a nearly 30 percent decrease. Strips is already sparsely attended compared to First Year Trips. Attendance at this year’s Strips was around eight percent of the sophomore class, while more than 90 percent of the class attended First-Year Trips.

Mendoza explained that Strips are held the weekend before sophomore summer because in previous years, holding Strips during the first weekend saw decreased attendance. However, there were difficulties with holding Strips right before sophomore summer, since students were still vacationing with their family or working reunions, explained Mendoza.

“[Turnout] was definitely less than I expected,” Ge said. “I was talking to some people about it ... they said that maybe the Trips directorate could have done a better job with advertising because they only sent out a few emails. I don’t think there was anything other than emails, so if you didn’t catch the emails, you didn’t sign up.”

According to Mendoza, the directorate set up information tables as well as emails, but in Ge’s opinion, their advertising failed to attract widespread attention.

“I thought Strips was very heavily skewed toward certain demographics,” said Ge. “There were many [Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity brothers] and [Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity brothers], a fair number of [Chi Delta sorority sisters]. For some reason it seemed like more than 50 percent of the trip leaders were from Illinois.”

She hypothesized that the presence of two Sig Ep brothers on the directorate might have been one reason why attendance reportedly skewed certain ways.

“It’s easy to rope in your friends when you’re not doing that heavy advertising otherwise, but it’s harder to reach certain demographics that you don’t touch,” she said.

Ge also recognized the more voluntary nature of Strips, as it isn’t seen as integral to the Dartmouth experience as Trips is.

“There’s definitely a type of person that goes on Strips, since now it’s optional,” Ge said.

She asserted that this type tends to be more “crunchy,” an adjective Dartmouth students commonly use to describe people who spend a lot of time in the outdoors.

“Coming into it, I thought it was supposed to be a quintessential part of sophomore summer, but [now] I don’t think that’s the case,” Ge said.

Mendoza had a more positive outlook on the range of people who attended. She believes this year’s Strips were well attended by people across campus.

“We had people who were involved with the DOC, and also varsity athletes; we had someone who had never gone on a first year trip,” she said. “It was so cool we were able to appeal to a wide range of people.”

Whether this year’s Strips were more particularly biased one way or another is unclear. However, Strips seems to have achieved its purpose. Ge stated that she did not regret going on Strips.

Katlin said that he got to know many new people during his Strips experience.

Strips may have not exactly been like Trips, but there were moments that felt familiar, according to Derenchuk.

“They try to make it Trips-like, and superficially there are a lot of the same things,” he said. “All the trippees sit on the Robo lawn and we introduce all the trip leaders. It’s kind of meta in that way, and we do all of the dances ... bringing it back to trips ... It kind of stirs up memories for people.”

Although Strips may have been less popular this year, its participants seemed to enjoy the nostalgia it brought, the friendships forged and fortified and the energy it opened sophomore summer with.