Note: Most of this blog provides a voice for current students, trip leaders, and directorate members to share their perspective. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some thoughts from Dartmouth alumni on their own experience with DOC Trips. As a 77 year old program, Trips changes, grows, and evolves each year – but many of the same traditions and feelings remain. Enjoy!
A Look Back: Greg Sokol ’10
In the fall of my junior year, I served on Vox Croo, one of the student-run support teams that help run the First-Year Trips program. Vox is responsible for much of the safety and logistics for DOC trips – they staff a 24-hour safety phone and spend much of the program time hiking to check in on groups in the field.
My favorite memory from that experience comes from an awful rainy day. It had been pouring rain all day, and in the afternoon a group of us visited a hiking trip at Nunnemacher Cabin, halfway up the Dartmouth Skiway. The trip had been hiking in the rain all day for many miles. My companions dressed in formal attire and acted as butlers, walking in without a word, setting the table and pouring each of the hikers hot chocolate or tea from insulated coffee mugs. They had sprinted up the hill to the cabin so the liquid was still piping hot. They then read a story while the group warmed up and spent almost an hour and half chatting and getting to know one another.
Stories like this one are common in the DOC Trips program, and every time I hear one I’m reminded how special this experience is – the program, the people, the community. That hiking group had their tough day turned around, thanks to a few fellow students. This is the heart of the DOC Trips program, in my opinion.
It’s designed for students to demonstrate their ways and show support to the newest members of the community. The students on this particular trip were not incoming students that my comrades knew, but it was still essential to make sure that it was anything less than an incredible trip.
To me, this shows the best of the Trips program and the best of the Dartmouth community, at least as I was lucky to experience it. Since I started at Dartmouth, I’ve been a nervous trippee, a trip leader, a member of Vox Croo, the chief of Vox Croo, and now I am a sketchy alumnus who visits Hanover all too often. I enjoyed my own first-year trip immensely and applied to lead one my sophomore year as soon as the applications were released. I admired my older trip leaders and reveled in how much Dartmouth trusts its students as ambassadors of College tradition and culture.
Though administrators advise the program, it is students who design the experience, shape it, and ultimately make the final decisions. It is students who are selected to lead incoming students through their first few days of interactions at college. It is students who pass on the tradition of looking after their fellow students, welcoming them into the fold. It’s an entirely different philosophy than you’ll find most anywhere else, a philosophy of which you should be very proud. I know I am.
I think of that afternoon at the Skiway often and it makes me smile. Though I now have to face the big scary “real world” and somehow manage a 9-to-5 job, I’m reminded that there are fantastic communities out there and equally fantastic Dartmouth folks spread all over the world, helping and supporting me to this day. I may not live in the woods anymore, but that spirit and spark live on in everything that we do. I know I’ll be alright.
Greg Sokol, originally from Irvington, NY, graduated from Dartmouth in 2010 and from the Thayer School of Engineering in 2011. As an undergraduate he was an engineering major with a minor in Classics. Currently, Greg lives in Boston, MA where he works as an automation engineer designing machines for manufacturing.