Because I knew a lot of people who had gone to Dartmouth, everyone really built up Trips in my mind. Before I even got to Hanover, I was so excited to meet my future best friends, hike the Appalachian Trail, and dance on the field at the Lodj. These high expectations caused me to be disappointed and concerned when Trips wasn’t all that I had imagined. My freshman trip was full of difficulties: exclusive trippees that only wanted to talk about their boarding school, an injured leg that made hiking painful, and a rain storm that soaked all of our belongings and left us tired and grumpy on the way to the Lodj. It left me questioning: why wasn’t my freshman trip as amazing as everyone said it should be? Why is everyone else having such a good time and I’m not? Did I do something wrong? Is Dartmouth really the right school for me?
Despite all of my concerns about Trips, I decided to give the program a second chance, and I applied to be a trip leader after my freshman year. The experience could not have gone better: it reminded me of everything I love about Dartmouth. I absolutely loved my trippees, we all had a great experience, and the rain just made us closer. Two years later we still have Trips reunions, and three of them are best friends. During this second Trips experience I was able to see and embrace the magic that I missed the first time. All that excitement you see from the upperclassmen trip leaders or croolings is genuine: we are so excited to share our love of Dartmouth with all of you and help you navigate your first days at school. So dance to the Salty Dog Rag, open up to your trippees when you’re snuggled in your sleeping bags at night, and embrace the beautiful New Hampshire wilderness (even when the weather isn’t on your side).
Overall, your Trips experience may not be everything you’ve ever wanted it to be, and that’s okay. While as trip leaders we hope to make your experience as great as possible, we also know that Trips isn’t always fun for everyone. So don’t be afraid to talk to us about it: we know exactly what you’re going through, and hopefully we can help make it better. Don’t write off Dartmouth because of five days that you spent with ten people in the woods. You may meet your best friends on Trips, or you may not meet them until orientation, or on your freshman floor, or in your classes. Even with the issues on my trip, one of my trippees and I became best friends. Three years later, we know that some of the struggles we faced on Trips helped make us closer. I promise you will also find your Dartmouth family. Trust the sign above Robo when you first show up on campus: Dartmouth is truly home. Welcome home!