Trips introduced me to the granite of New Hampshire in a way that I never could have pictured in the fall of 2013. I was on cabin camping because of my less-than-comfort with the outdoors. Sure, I had gone to sleep away camp, and I loved to ski – but that doesn’t really count, right? So I arrived in Hanover, hella anxious, with only a single story about Trips to go by: my Dad, who had led a trip when he went to Dartmouth in the 80s, getting his trippees lost and having one of them climb up a tree to spot Baker Tower. Great, super reassuring stuff about a five-day wilderness trip.
I think I surprised myself about how totally fine I was; the trip flew by. I asked a bajillion and one questions to my trip leaders (where’s the best pasta on campus? when do people go out?) and they answered with patience, kindness and understanding. I ended up going on the sunrise hike at Moosilauke (having barely ever hiked before). Standing at the top of Moosilauke, circled up singing the alma mater, I know it sounds cheesy but I realized I was truly a part of Dartmouth community.
As a cabin camping trip leader in 2014, the first two nights of trips, my trippees were super quiet. I think I lost my voice in a day from talking so much that first night. But when we woke up on the third day of trips, I learned my trippees had stayed up all night talking and bonding and suddenly they were all ready to chat. They just took a little more time to open up than I did my first year; we ended up having a really meaningful conversation about starting Dartmouth that night, and it felt natural and authentic (as do many moments on trips). I was a cabin camping trip leader again in 2015 (third time’s the charm!), but unfortunately had to leave my trip early due to medical reasons. I was so sad to leave, but knew I had all year to get to know my wonderful 19s. Because trips doesn’t just stop when you get back to Hanover, ready to shower and check your phone; your trip leaders remain there for you throughout your entire Dartmouth experience.
Now, here I am, gearing up for my senior year (I swear I was just packing for my first year trip) and getting so excited to be on a support croo. I have since done other sunrise hikes (Mt. Cardigan over sophomore summer is my absolute favorite memory of Dartmouth) and stayed in many more cabins. As a three-time cabin camper, I can tell you that going on a trip you’re comfortable with makes a world of a difference. Even though I was comfortable with the idea of staying in a cabin, pushing myself out of my comfort zone and committing to the sunrise hike is still one of my proudest accomplishments at Dartmouth. To all the other cabin campers, nature photographers, organic farmers, etc.: don’t worry if you’ve never done anything in the outdoors before. You’re not the only one, trust me.