First-Year Trips to return in the fall

The Trips directorate plans to consolidate the program to just two sections and offer more diverse Trip options.

by Lauren Adler | 7/9/21 5:10am

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by Naina Bhalla / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

After a year of nontraditional orientation activities, Dartmouth First-Year Trips will return to more regular outdoor programming this fall to welcome the Class of 2025 to Hanover. Though much of this year’s programming will remain similar to past years , the Trips directorate has implemented activities and scheduling changes that they believe will make the Trips experience more accessible for incoming students.

While in 2019, first-year students were split into 10 different Trips sections, this year, there will be only two — one taking place from Sept. 4-7 and the other from Sept. 5-8 — in order to “create more consistency in experience,” according to Trips director Kellen Appleton ’20.  

According to Appleton, in past years, earlier Trips sections were made up of students from the Northeast region who would return home between the end of their trip and the start of orientation. Appleton said that the new schedule will enable incoming students to have a more uniform Trips experience that is more reflective of the Dartmouth community as a whole with students from all around the world being welcomed to campus together.

“Depending on what section of Trips you went on, you could have a fairly strongly different experience as first-year students, depending on what the makeup of your section was, whether you were returning home, how that was integrating you into the rest of the Dartmouth community, how that makes you feel a sense of belonging,” Appleton said. “The new plan this year is such that when every incoming student comes to campus, they will move in, and they won’t have to do those sorts of things like traveling back and forth from campus to their houses — and make sure that Trips happens after other pre-orientation programs are complete so that those students can participate fully in Trips along with the rest of the student body.”

The scheduling change has also prompted directorate members to rethink some traditional aspects of Trips, such as the first night spent in Hanover and the last night spent at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. With only about 15 volunteers in each of these locations, “Croo” captains are considering how to provide the best possible Trips experience to hundreds of students at once.

“We are still trying to finalize — or really just begin thinking about and finalizing — what a lot of the parts of the experience for incoming students will look like, and we’re exploring different options [to] come up with what the Hanover experience will look like,” said Hanover Croo captain Brandon Zhou ’22. “But I think the one thing that we’re always consciously thinking about as we’re approaching this is, how are we able to provide a meaningful and substantial experience, and one that fulfills the values and the missions and the goals of the First Year Trips program.”

Lodj Croo captain Alisya Reza ’22 said that she views the night students spend at the Lodge as an opportunity to “set the tone for that transition from the outdoors back to campus” in order to “make sure that trippees feel welcome” on their return.

“I would say the huge challenge this year, and something that Lodj Croo really wants to uphold, is how do we maintain that quality of care?” she said. “[But] it also just presents us with a new opportunity to change some of the things in the past that haven't worked well. It’s a really good year to reflect on what we’ve always done and think about what new ways, what more accessible ways, we can do them in.”

Trips directorate has also designed several new types of trips, including programs like Frisbee Golf and Museum Exploration that Appleton hopes will increase accessibility and comfort as well as provide “other ways that people can engage with the outside besides just hiking to the top of the mountain.”

“Overall, we have to create new trips to have capacity for people, and if we’re doing that work to create new trips anyway, we might as well create new, fun, interesting types of trips that might appeal to more people,” she said. “We would like to offer a greater number and types of trips, including ones that can accommodate or appeal to folks who may not be as interested in traditional outdoor activities like hiking or canoeing or what have you, especially with First-Year Trips being more integrated with the New Student Orientation schedule.”

This year’s volunteers have not yet learned which crews they will be on or which trips they will lead, but trip leader Aadhya Kocha ’22 said she is looking forward to showing incoming students the traditions that made her love Dartmouth as a first-year student.

“I feel like [over] the last year, a lot of that personality and goofiness that Dartmouth had went away, and I'm sure that’s been hard on a lot of people,” she said. “Not a lot of people obviously know that — because it died when they were not a part of the College — so I want to try to bring that back, not only for the volunteers, but for the incoming students so they see why I initially loved Dartmouth.”

Now that they have experienced Trips as both a trippee and as a trip leader, Gus Guszkowski ’22, who is volunteering as a trip leader for the second time this year, said that they are excited to experience Trips when they know what to expect, rather than “going into a totally new situation that I’d never experienced before.”

“I'm excited to finally get to go into this more or less knowing what to expect, which I think will help me focus on making it a really, really good experience for the ’25s rather than focusing on, oh God, what am I doing?” they said. “I think having the previous experience will help me overcome my nerves about the whole thing, and I’m really excited because I think that’s going to make me a better trip leader.”

Correction appended (10:15 am, July 9, 2021): A previous version of this article stated that Trips would be broken into two sections, one taking place from Sept. 2-7 and the other from Sept. 3-8. Those are the dates that trip leaders must be in Hanover; the two trip sections are taking place from Sept. 4-7 and Sept. 5-8. The inaccurate dates have been corrected.