Hello! I’m Jacob Haythorn, a rising junior at Davidson College. I am a theatre and political science double major, I sing in the Davidson College Chorale and an a cappella group and I am a trip leader for Davidson Outdoors. I’d like to share with folks my perspective on the Davidson Odyssey experience as both a participant and a trip leader.
As an incoming first year student, the idea of uprooting one’s life can be daunting, to say the least. On one level, the Odyssey can be equally as intimidating. A week in the woods with seven other incoming students and no showers? For even an experienced outdoors person, this can seem like a lot to bite off. Despite the challenges that this often new adventure can present, I was excited to come early to Davidson, to meet new people and to spend some time in nature.
The first day was a whirlwind of new faces and names (most of which flew through my overstimulated brain). As the week progressed, however, I came to forge quick and strong friendships with my crew. As we summited peaks and canoed rapids, we moved ever closer to the craziness of orientation and the beginning of a new chapter of our lives. When the inevitable end of Odyssey came, I felt far more confidant and safe knowing that I had seven friends by my side and a number of upper-class mentors to guide me. To this day, several of my closest friends were from Odyssey session five, crew three—my first Davidson friends.
The other side of the equation has been as rewarding and exciting as that first day as a participant. This past year, I led a crew during session one (climbing) and a crew during session two (hiking). I was able to watch and facilitate the growth of a small family during this time. It has been incredibly rewarding to give back to this program over the last year, whether through our countless training hours or long nights packing and organizing to hit the road.
Seeing people from different backgrounds and walks of life come together to climb walls and mountains. Whether or not they know it at the time, these accomplishments inspire trust and confidence in one’s own abilities that will carry them into the coming years.
I hope the Odyssey experience is both meaningful and celebratory for every student who chooses to participate. It definitely was for me.