Voices of Trips: John D’Antonio ’14

Note: This post is part of the “Voices of Trips” series, featuring the individual experiences and perspectives of current Dartmouth undergraduates regarding DOC First-Year Trips. Check out the introduction to the series here.

Prepared for Nothing

As an incoming freshman, I couldn’t wait to find out which DOC Trip I would be going on. My dad, brother, and cousin had all gone to Dartmouth and they had been telling me about their different DOC Trips experiences all summer long which was getting me psyched to go out in the wilderness. I was assigned to a hiking trip on the first section of Trips (A new section of DOC Trips begin each day for 10 days to stagger everyone) and I was pumped to get to Hanover and start!

John D'Antonio '14, a psychology & sociology major, is from Garden City, New York.

As an athlete in high school, I wasn’t really worried about how strenuous the hiking would be, I was just eager to finally head north. After all, my high school friends had all left home weeks ago and were already experiencing their first few weeks of college while I sat in New York waiting for Dartmouth to start.

The night before I left for my DOC trip, all of my excitement disappeared.  I started to panic. It was 10pm and I hadn’t even packed my hiking pack yet and I had no idea what I was doing.

All at once, I realized I was not that prepared: I had never actually been hiking before, never even slept outside and certainly had not slept anywhere overnight without a sibling, cousin, or friend with me. And yet, here I was about to drive four and a half hours to go sleep in the woods in the middle of New Hampshire with five total strangers. Yikes.

…almost all of us were nervous…But our trip leaders knew this too, and did everything they could to put us at ease

As I tried to shove all of my clothes into my hiking pack, I figured that the most logical thing for me to do was to brainstorm ways to simply avoid going on this trip.  After twenty minutes of failing to come up with a valid excuse, I gave in to the fact that in just a few hours, I would inevitably be camping and hiking in New Hampshire.

As a sophomore, John (2nd from right) volunteered as a DOC First-Year Trip leader.

As it turned out, the worst part of DOC First-Year Trips ended up being that night – the night before I even got to Hanover. By the time I was at Dartmouth with my fellow trippees, I recognized that almost all of us were nervous about some part of the trip. But our trip leaders knew this too, and did everything they could to put us at ease.

By the time I was lying underneath a tarp in the middle of the New Hampshire woods, I realized how special Dartmouth and awesome Dartmouth is, and how lucky I was to be a part of it. My trip leaders and everyone involved with the program were there to welcome me to Dartmouth and to help me overcome my fears. They loved this place so much that they were willing to dedicate their vacation time in order to make sure I was properly welcomed. And they succeeded.

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