Note: This post is part of the “Voices of Trips” series, which will provide perspectives and stories from upperclassmen’s own experiences with Trips. To learn more about our great group of trip leaders, check out the introduction to the blog’s series here.
Hey, you got this (all of it)
Someone once said to me, “Trips is a lie: it’s not what Dartmouth is really like.” I hated that. What bothered me most about this statement was that it ignored one very important element of Trips—it’s run entirely by Dartmouth students. If all of the people that make Trips happen (a lot of people!) go to Dartmouth, it is inherently part of Dartmouth. Ok so it’s not true that Trips = Dartmouth. We actually have to study and eat real food and take showers and go out and take finals when we’re in Hanover.
And sure, we don’t wear flair every day (though there are pretty standard occasions for it at least 7 times a year off the top of my head) and we don’t dance the Salty Dog Rag in frat basements (I have heard of this happening at least once though). But what matters is that Trips introduces freshmen to so many unique elements of life at Dartmouth.
While thinking about what to write here about the crazy, hilarious, terrifying, tradition-filled yet constantly changing magic that is Trips, I’ve tried to narrow down my ramblings to three things that I learned about Dartmouth during Trips.
It will be challenging, and someone will always be better at it than you.
Freshman year I was assigned to the Trailwork trip on Section C. When I arrived on Robo lawn, I had never hiked before. Little did I know, my Trip would involve hiking the Beaver Brook Trail, which covers pretty steep terrain and a section where you have to grab onto hand rungs while climbing up the side of a waterfall. I looked the trail up again just now out of curiosity and the trail sign reads “This trail is extremely tough. If you lack experience please use another trail. Take special care at the cascades to avoid tragic results.”
Needless to say, I felt pretty incompetent. No, I felt like I was going to die.
But we totally made it (with a few slips). My trip leaders made it all possible with lots of snack breaks and good conversation as distractions. I write about this not to cause worry but because trust me, if I can hike up that trail, anyone can.
On our second night in the woods, the Hiking 4 trip from our section camped at the same site as us. They had hiked Beaver Brook as well—but they had done it as only 1.5 miles of their 9 mile day. Yikes.
This kind of thing will probably happen to you at Dartmouth (or at least it’s happened to me): you may kick your own ass working on something and feel totally great about it and then turn around and someone else just did it better—in half the time. Dartmouth is full of really smart people with wide-ranging abilities. This makes it both difficult and exceedingly interesting.
Upperclassmen are cool. But not so cool that they don’t want to be your friend.
I was definitely intimidated by my trip leaders. Not because they gave off an intimidating vibe, but more so because when you first get to Dartmouth it can feel like an entirely new world with its own language—and they understood all of it.
I vividly remember standing on Webster Avenue my freshman fall with some of my floormates and texting my trip leader to see if people were hanging out at his frat. This made me super nervous, and I felt like the neediest lamest freshman ever. But he responded: he wasn’t there so he didn’t know. Ugh.
It wasn’t until about a year later that he and I ended up becoming really close friends. You must trust me on this: Trips can lead you to new friendships all the time, maybe not right away and maybe not directly, but it will happen.
Talk to your trip leader, other trip leaders, croo members—anyone. They want to meet freshman and become resources and friends. If they didn’t they wouldn’t go through 9+ hours of training to have the opportunity.
And I’m not just saying this as the freshman that I was three years ago (yikes), I’m saying this also as a trip leader who considers some of the Trippees I led among my best friends and as someone who has danced like an idiot for incoming freshman as a Crooling.
Speaking of awkward dancing, fake it ‘till you make it.
I loved the dancing on Trips because my awkwardness kind of blends in when everyone is hopping around together.
In Hanover HCroo had us doing this line-dance type of thing where we went through the center in pairs doing any type of dance and then got back in line. One Crooling came over to me and was like, “Sam, we are going to cat crawl all the way down this lawn.” I laughed, a little concerned, but we did it. At that point I didn’t care anymore about embarrassing myself, I had gotten down on all fours in the dirt while 60 people stood watching.
I was pretty happy that the dancing continued at the Lodge (when there’s music blasting and everyone is dancing you don’t have to try to start conversations). One of my best friends told me recently that she had been on the same section as me freshman year and remembers noticing me and thinking that I looked really confident doing all of the dances. When she told me this I just laughed. Wait what? I was terrified! (And if you know me you will know that there is no way I looked confident: the only dance type I have is awkward).
The point is that everyone is in the same position so there’s no reason to worry. Regardless of whether you are lucky enough to know people coming in or if your whole family went to Dartmouth so you think you already know how everything works, you’re in a new place with new people and a whole four years of adventures ahead of you. And I for one, could not be more jealous.