Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Freshmen Trips and the War Years

A line of men walking along a bridge.
1946 Freshmen Trip
crossing the dam at Moosilauke
Roger Brown leading
By 1941, the popularity of the Freshmen Trip, which had attracted a mere 16 first-year students in 1935, had grown significantly, swelling the ranks to over 100 participants. Trip leader Harry Bond’s report on the 1941 trip included his concern that numbers over 125 could not be handled well. He felt that with too big a crowd, trips would be come “more like an army moving in maneuvers than a good friendly hike.”

The military allusion was prophetic; later that year, the United States entered World War II. The resulting decrease in civilian student population and the curtailment of travel, compelled the DOC to limit the 1942 trip to the first 50 applicants. The entire trip that year was based at Moosilauke (the hike up the mountain was described as not difficult: “girls frequently make the trip up and down the Mountain in a day”). Since Dartmouth accelerated its academic calendar during the war, the 1942 Freshmen Trip took place in July over the course of a weekend, returning the Class of 1946 to campus in time to register on Monday, July 6.

Allowed to use only one truck in 1944, the DOC was forced to limit the trip even more, to 30 students. However, it did not take long after the end of the war for Freshmen Trips to experience their due success. Within a decade, the number of students participating reached 200, divided into two sections of several trips each, all fed, transported, led up and down mountains, informed and entertained with the precision Harry Bond had feared… but which has done nothing to detract from the success and enthusiasm for this happy introduction to Dartmouth for over 70 years.

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