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The Dartmouth
May 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

DOC spring break trips take students across the country

During spring break, the Dartmouth Outing Club led five subsidized expedition trips.

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Over spring break, dozens of students participated in backcountry expedition trips with the Dartmouth Outing Club. The DOC led five subsidized spring trips, with options ranging from hiking in the U.S. Virgin Islands to rock climbing Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas with the Dartmouth Mountaineering Club.

In the breaks between academic terms, the DOC offers subsidized outdoor trips specialized by activity, skill-level and — for certain trips — affinity group. According to DOC president Madeline Wolfe ’25, break trips unify the undergraduate community and help students get outside in between terms.

“[Break trips] are important for the DOC — and then by extension, the greater Dartmouth community,” Wolfe said. “[Break trips] are a way to deepen those connections that are definitely formed in the outdoors at Dartmouth.”

Isaac Delaney ’27 said he participated in a five-night hiking excursion in the U.S. Virgin Islands sponsored by People of Color Outdoors and led by Jessi Yu ’25 and Marvin Escobar Barajas ’25. According to Delaney, the trip was geared toward beginners and cost participants $250 flat, plus flights. The DOC subsidized 70% of the trip’s cost for some, based on financial aid, according to the 2024 spring trips announcement.

Delaney said he watched the sunset on the beach every night with friends from Dartmouth who also attended the trip. Following his “incredible” experience, he said he plans to become a DOC leader.

“I applied for the POCO trip because I hadn’t had much experience in the outdoors, and POCO trips are really good at allowing beginners to get experience,” Delaney said. “[The trip] was really good [for building] close connections with people over a very short period of time.”

Other trip options included whitewater kayaking in Asheville, North Carolina with the Ledyard Canoe Club and surfing in Puerto Rico with the Surfing Club. Cabin and Trail had planned a hiking trip to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, but the trip was canceled, according to Cabin and Trail member Evan Barrett ’24.

Past DOC programs have sent students to the Himalayas, Zambezi and Patagonia. The trips can be in the works for years. Ledyard’s paddling trip in Labyrinth Canyon in Utah — co-led by Dylan Galvez ’26 and Ben Shaman ’26 — was long overdue. Ledyard had tried on two previous occasions to plan a trip to Utah but was thwarted by the pandemic and later bad weather conditions.

Despite the long wait, Shaman said the experience helped him bond with other students. 

“The benefits of break trips are that you get super close with the people that are on them,” Shaman said. “[We] had lots of downtime. It was gorgeous. There was only one day of bad weather.”

The DOC attracts a large portion of Dartmouth’s student body, with nearly 1500 undergraduates participating in the organization, according to its website. In turn, break trips can be competitive — dozens of people apply each term to various expeditions with only a few slots.

While 55 people applied for the Ledyard trip in Utah, leaders were only able to accept eight people, Shaman said.

According to Wolfe, the small numbers can contribute to an exclusionary culture. In her tenure as president – which began this spring term — she said she wants to make the club and expedition trips more open. 

Wolfe added the DOC is working to increase financial aid for students who want to go on break trips but have financial barriers. Currently, trips are only partially subsidized, and Wolfe said the program still struggles with accessibility.

“I can definitely see how [break trips] would be perceived as less accessible, because it’s a longer time and [larger] financial commitment, which is different from day trips,” Wolfe said.