Davidson Outdoors’ Odyssey XXVIII Predicted to Remain “Best Thing Ever”

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Text corrected: Odyssey is open to all new students, not just first-years. The shorter Backcountry session is five days, not four.

I stopped by the Davidson Outdoors basement-cave-office-depot and climbing wall in Alvarez College Union to cadge a few drops of chain oil from the bike repair station in the back. Good Mike Goode ’83, assistant director of Davidson Outdoors, fixed me up with the latest: synthetic oil that attracts less chain grime. Thanks, Mike!

“All forward!”

Mike and Ed Daugherty ’85, the program’s director, are gearing up for this summer’s Backcountry Odyssey program for incoming new students. (There is also a Service Odyssey program, a separate offering through the Center for Civic Engagement). New this summer will be a shorter Backcountry Odyssey Session I (five days instead of eight), as well as a shorter option in one segment of Session III, to accommodate students who need to get to campus earlier than regular New Student Orientation. The changes present a wider array of options for new incoming students with a wide array of summer scheduling commitments, Ed said. The program is open to all incoming first-years and transfer students.

What’s the same as ever this year is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that Odyssey XXVIII will offer incoming students to get to know—really know—a small band of their new best friends before the full crush of nearly 2,000 students begin live-streaming into campus for the start of classes Aug. 26. This is perennially cited as “the best thing ever” by many Davidson students.

The  camaraderie of the people who live and work on Davidson’s closeknit campus is a large part of the power of this place. Odyssey front-loads the student experience with the kind of friendships formed best and strongest in the crucible of shared experience: safety training and service work, partner paddling down a deep green canyon under a big blue sky, communal meal preparation, meditative campfire debriefs of the day, and whispered hilarity between tents common to campgrounds across the land.

“It’s epic,” says Lilly Wilson ’13, an “old hand” now working at Davidson Outdoors.

Click here for a sample peek back to Odyssey XXVI and other D.O. coverage. For a peek forward for members of the class of 2017, click the link above and sign up for your own once-in-a-lifetime Odyssey!

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