Voices of Trips: David Tramonte ’18

This post is part of our Voices of Trips series, in which volunteers share stories from their own experiences with DOC First-Year Trips.

Go For It, You’ve Got Nothing to Lose

I can still remember how isolated I felt on the bus-ride up to Trips. I was coming from a public school twenty minutes north of Boston, and the only other 18s that I knew were those that I briefly talked to at an accepted student event in Cambridge. It seemed to be a different story for most of the others on my bus; they had a couple of friends that they already knew from high school next to them. I talked to a few people, but each conversation didn’t last for more than a few minutes. When we finally got to campus, I felt like I was going into this new chapter of my life alone.

But not too long after checking in and dancing the Salty Dog Rag (not sure what it is? You’ll find out), our trip leaders were introduced to us. Here were two current Dartmouth students that were there to make sure our questions were answered, to guide us through the wilderness, and to bring our newly-formed group together. By the end of our first day, as we got ready to rough it in Leverone, I found that I had already bonded with the others on my trip, just by being around them for a long enough time. And that bond grew much stronger over the next four days.

David (on the left in the neon helmet) with his own First-Year Trip.
David (on the left in the neon helmet) with his own First-Year Trip.

I was on Section C Mountain Biking, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I always liked to road bike back home (at a casual pace), but I had never been mountain biking before. How tough could it be? Well, as it turns out, very.

First off, it’s pretty tiring to bike up a mountain. Those things can be steep. Second, there are roots and rocks everywhere, which makes pedaling a pain. Then there’s the matter of going down the mountain, which is faster than you’d expect. In my first experience going downhill, I flipped over the handlebars and ate dirt. I felt pretty foolish, especially when all of my other trippees rode through the same section without much trouble.

But when I thought about it, what did it matter?

My trippees didn’t care about my fall. Actually, they said that I looked pretty bad-ass when it happened. And my trip-leaders told me not to worry about it; it was a trip for beginners after all. All of my trippees ended up having a fall or two along the way, but everyone was just excited to be having a new experience with new people that were in the same boat as themselves.

None of us crushed the trails, or were mountain-biking pros, but that’s not the point of Trips. There are honestly too many goals of Trips to list here, but I can promise you that excelling as an outdoor adventurer is not one. No one is expecting you to do anything that you can’t. Challenge yourself as much as you want; your leaders and croolings want you to enjoy your first experience as a ‘19. Something you’ll hear all throughout Trips is “you do you,” and I can’t think of any better motto for incoming trippees than that.

During my trip’s final night at Oak Hill, before meeting up with the rest of our section at the Lodge, Oak Hill Croo hosted a fire for us. Everyone spoke honestly about their Dartmouth experiences, and my trippees and I openly talked about what we were nervous about leading up to the start of the term. We sang “Home” and “The General” around the fire that night, and even though I had only known everyone there for a few days, I felt that I had a home in Hanover.

I can honestly say that everyone on trips, the croolings and the leaders, are there for you. They are there to answer any and all questions and be there through the entire process. I guarantee that someone that you’ll meet felt exactly like you during their own Trips experience, and they are there to help you feel comfortable and welcomed.

I almost assure you that you won’t understand all of Trips at first. Why is there all of this singing and dancing? Why are all of the upperclassman so excited? Do I really have to go without a shower for five days? And, if you’re like me, why is everyone else making this look so easy when it’s not?

That’s entirely okay. You don’t have to understand all of Trips; you don’t have to commit to being an active member in the DOC; and you most definitely don’t have to enjoy all of the singing and dancing. But you will meet new people: other ‘19s that are just as confused and nervous as you, and countless upper-classman that want to give you a helping hand along the way. There’s no pressure to be great or someone you’re not. All you have to do is be you, and you’ll meet new people that have the same interests, fears, and goals as you.

So go for it ‘19s, you’ve got nothing to lose.


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