This post is part of our Voices of Trips series, in which volunteers share stories from their own experiences with DOC First-Year Trips.
One of my favorite memories of my trip, Hiking 2, was my trip’s last night in the wilderness together. As we set up our tarp for the night, we happily ran through experiences of our past three days in our minds: sweating and climbing up a steep slope together, playing hour-long games of Contact, witnessing a sleepwalking incident, and drinking strange, metallic-tasting water together. As we gathered under the tarp, we looked at each other expectantly and wondered what this moment would bring. One of our trip leaders asked, “Do you want to play the jellybean game?” So it was decided. We learnt the rules our trip leaders determined: choosing a red jelly bean meant telling a story about an injury, a green jellybean, sharing what you were nervous about coming into Dartmouth, orange, an embarrassing story, and blue, one of your biggest fears.
We started picking jellybeans and sharing our stories, basking in the warmth of each others’ open, honest thoughts. As one of my trippees picked an orange jellybean and shared an embarrassing story about himself, he couldn’t stop laughing. I’ll not share the details, but the story involved water balloons and an amusement park. He couldn’t stop laughing, and we all joined in and couldn’t stop laughing, too. He thought it was funny, and it was funny. But even more than that, he saw how muddled and foolish he‘d been and that was why it was funny. He couldn’t stop laughing at what an oaf he was, and we couldn’t stop laughing at that, too, because we knew how much more of an oaf we’d all been at some point in our lives. We realized how inexplicably foolish, strange and funny we all were. We realized something even simpler, too: the plain truth was that we were happy being with each other at that moment, with nothing between us, not the past or future, our worries or fears. We enjoyed being with each other.
That night, it rained horrendously. We got soaked and have not stopped complaining about it ever since. The water washed away many things that night, but it could not wash away ourselves, for we emerged out of our sleeping bags solid and firm, although glistening wet. And like ourselves, the simple happiness we had experienced in each other could not be washed away either and remained as solid and firm as ourselves.
Nearly two years have passed since that night, and much has changed. I’ve laughed many times since then, but not always the way I did that night on my trip. Yet my memory of it remains and I’m glad to be able to share it with you today. I know it’s always possible to enjoy other people’s company as simply and wholeheartedly as my trip did that night and am looking forward to experiencing more of that at Dartmouth in my next two years here. I hope you get to experience this, too, at Dartmouth, especially on your trips!