First-Year Trips will not be held in traditional outdoor format

by Eileen Brady and Lauren Adler | 5/28/20 10:28pm

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by Michael Lin / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

First-Year Trips will not happen in its traditional outdoor format, Trips director Kellen Appleton ’20 and associate director Jake Klein ’20 wrote today in letters to Trips applicants and the Class of 2024. Appleton said that they will be able to determine more details about Trips’ adapted format following the College’s decision regarding fall term.

In an email to the Class of 2024, Dean of the College Kathryn Lively explained that it will no longer be possible to “send [’24s] into the wilderness in late August as we normally would,” citing “current local conditions and health and safety considerations.”

“This is disappointing for all of us, but it is a shift — not a cancellation,” Lively added.

Appleton said that he and Klein are considering several options for Trips this year, including outdoor experiences “on different timelines and at different times of the year,” small group experiences that would not take place in the outdoors and “hybrids” of those two options. However, while Trips may provide some remote programming, Appleton said that the program is “not trying to mimic the traditional outdoor experience over Zoom.”

While Appleton and Klein expressed disappointment that Trips would not be able to be held outdoors in its usual format, they wrote to the Class of 2024 that “[t]rips isn’t about going outside — it’s about community, reflection and connection.” They added that they are “ecstatic” to welcome the ’24s “by collaborating on experiences that deliver those goals.”

Appleton said that the timeline for Trips is currently “uncertain” because “so much of that is dependent on [the status of] fall term.” He said that “if we had more details [about Trips], we would release them,” but that details of what Trips will look like will be “tied fairly closely” to the College’s June 29 announcement of whether students will be able to return to campus for the fall term.

“Trips not happening in its traditional form and its traditional time doesn't mean that Trips is not happening [or] that the Trips community and the effects of Trips on the Dartmouth community aren't going to happen,” Appleton said. “We're still committed and haven't stopped working on finding ways to foster connection and to provide upper-level mentors, and to provide the sense of welcome and the sense of connection and place to Dartmouth.”

First-Year Trips is a student-run pre-orientation program offered through the Dartmouth Outing Club. In a normal fall, each Trips section includes about 100 students. The entire section spends the first night of the five-day program sleeping in Leverone Field House and the last night in Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. In between, the section breaks into small upperclassmen-led trips based around outdoor activities like hiking, canoeing or cabin camping.

“In evaluating options [for Trips], our number one priority is making sure that whatever Trips experience we do provide provides this sense of connection, belonging and welcome to the incoming class,” he said.

Appleton also noted that he expects there will be “some role that resembles a traditional trip leader” because “in a lot of ways, the small group, peer-led experience and model that we use for Trips is integral to that Trips experience.” The presence of traditional Trips Croo positions is currently “uncertain and will depend on how Trips is run,” Appleton added, given that most Croo positions are intended to facilitate an on-campus program.

Appleton and Klein also wrote to both Trips applicants and the Class of 2024 that their priority is to “provide a safe, equitable and accessible program.” Though Appleton noted that Trips hopes to be accessible to all participating students, he said that the program’s approach to accessibility this year may be a challenge depending on the form that it takes. He said that the program is considering equity issues surrounding internet access and privacy for remote programming, as well as food shortages for programming on campus.

On the New Student Orientation website, a message from New Student Orientation program director Kathleen Cunneen and associate dean for student life Eric Ramsey noted that they are “waiting for further information from the College” before making any announcements about orientation programming.”

Ramsey wrote in an email statement to The Dartmouth that organizers of New Student Orientation remain “completely committed to providing an out-of-doors experience for our 24s as soon as possible.”

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