Which Trip Should I Go On?

Hiking and Biking and Climbing…Oh My!

So many of you (incoming students, that is) have been asking the same question lately: Which DOC Trip should I go on?

And while that question has been more of an ice-breaker in the past few months, it’s finally time to decide!  After months of planning, lots of brainstorming, writing many eloquent blog posts, and dreaming of DOC Trips – we’re ready for you to sign-up!  Registration materials will be sent to you in the upcoming days, and once you receive the information, you have a few days to look it over and think about which trips most interest you.

Registration is essentially the “sign-up” process for you to go on a DOC First-Year Trip.  There’s no application or essay or peer evaluation (you have had enough of that this year, am I right?) – anyone who would like to participate is welcome to.  What the registration form does ask, however, is some information about YOU and YOUR interests.

Basically, there are two things you should consider before thinking about which trips interest you: Your schedule and your ability

1. Schedule: DOC Trips are divided into 10 sections, A-J (~100 students begin their trip each day for 10 days).  Hiking trips, cabin camping, canoeing, climbing and whitewater kayaking are offered on every section. For the other types of trips (i.e. community service, organic farming, etc…), availability varies by section.  Before stressing about what type of DOC Trip to sign-up for, determine what sections you are even available to go on!  You can find the schedule for DOC Trips 2012 here.

2. Ability: DOC Trips are open to everyone, regardless of ability level or outdoor experience.  Most of those who participate have never been involved in the outdoors before.  That said, everyone has different conditions, limitations, and comfort levels.  Be very honest with yourself regarding what types of activities are right for you.  For example, if you are afraid of heights, rock climbing may not be the best option for your trip.  Please note that we  are 100% committed to make DOC Trips accessible to all – if you would like to discuss your situation, don’t hesitate to contact us or the College’s Student Accessibility Services Office.

Once you’ve taken a look at the schedule and done some deep pondering about your own interests and comfort level, it’s time to think about which type of trip you want to sign-up for.  The short answer to this question is that you don’t need to pick one…the registration forms will ask that you indicate several trips that are of interest to you.  Once every incoming student send that info to us, we’ll sort through it and do our very best to make sure you get one of your indicated preferences!

Hiking and Cabin Camping are two of the most common trip types, so many of you will be doing one of these trips.  We offer several hiking trips each section of varying difficulty.  So be sure to be very honest during registration when describing your outdoor/hiking experience. No need to impress us with your incredible fitness level…the more detailed and candid you are about your hiking experience, the better job we can do in placing you on a DOC Trip.

I led a hiking trip in 2010 and I can personally attest to how wonderful they are.  Hiking trips often have really great views during the day and you get to explore some interesting parts of New Hampshire and Vermont!  Some of these trips even include hiking on the Appalachian Trail, which is a fun experience.  Cabin Camping trips are also a blast; you have a lot of free time, so trip leaders will often organize a short day hike, play games, or bring some activity (t-shirt making occurred last year on one trip) to do.  Because all the cabins are owned by Dartmouth, later on in your college career, you’ll be able to organize fun cabin overnights with friends or organizations you’re a part of.

“…the activity in and of itself is NOT what makes DOC Trips a positive experience for most students…”

The big secret with DOC Trips registration and selecting a trip type is…the activity in and of itself is not what makes DOC Trips a positive experience for most students.  Whether you are climbing, biking, canoeing, organic farming, volunteering, or nature photographing – most students remember the conversations with their trip leaders, their interactions with each other, the random & fun games played on DOC Trips, or the inside jokes formed on a trip.  All of these great parts of DOC Trips can be found through all of these activities – so don’t stress! (Also check out this post written by Elise Smith ’13 on pre-conceived notions of DOC Trips)

That said, I hope you’ll consider challenging yourself and/or trying something new through your DOC Trip.  Now that you have decided to come to Dartmouth, this is one great way to get introduced to the natural beauty that we are all so fortunate enough to call home.  Whether you hike though the Presidential Mountain Range, stay at a nearby Dartmouth cabin, travel to the 2nd College Grant in northern New Hampshire to go fishing, or spend some time at the Organic Farm just down the road, your experience can be fun, interesting, and exciting, regardless of your prior outdoor knowledge.  The specific activity you spend the trip participating is nowhere near as important to DOC Trips as the conversations had and memories formed during your experience.

Everyone here in Hanover is super psyched you’re coming this fall and if we can be of any help as you navigate registration for DOC Trips (or you just want to hear our perspective), don’t hesitate to contact us or check us out on Facebook and Twitter (shameless plug).

Coming up next week…Maybe you have no idea what one does on an “organic farming” trip, or maybe you’re confused how “outdoor education” is an option.  We’ll have firsthand accounts of several trips from students who have led them before!

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