Odyssey is a unique opportunity to get to know your fellow students before arriving on campus in August. You will experience Davidson's values of community, responsibility and service while enjoying outdoor activities together. Trained Davidson students lead each first-year group on a five- or eight-day excursion.
Backcountry Odyssey takes place in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains in western North Carolina. Students cooperate and encourage each other as they backpack, camp, whitewater canoe, climb, mountain bike, or complete a service project, all while learning how to live outdoors with minimal impact on the environment. This is a vigorous program with all the challenges and rewards that come with time spent traveling and living in remote areas.
New this year, the Basecamp Odyssey is an opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities with your peers in a less remote environment. Like the Backcountry program, most activities take place in western N.C. The program features daytime excursions for hikes, rafting, lake canoeing or group initiatives. The exertion level of this program is less strenuous than the Backcountry Odyssey, and your group returns each evening to a developed campground with access to bathrooms and showers. The Basecamp experience is available during all five-day sessions.
Three nights out on the trail give you and your crew an exercise in self-reliance and cooperation. You will hike from six to 12 miles each day, for a total distance of about 25 miles for both the five- and eight-day Odyssey. The trail will bring you challenging steep climbs, rainstorms, and hot sun, as well as great views, shady rest stops, and the satisfaction of finishing the hike and arriving at the next campsite. Additional instruction along the way helps your group take on more responsibility for setting up camp, cooking meals, and finding your way down the trail.
The whitewater paddling component of the Odyssey emphasizes teamwork and communication in pairs. Two days on the river provide a mix of exciting Class II and III whitewater to test your new skills and quiet stretches to raft up and float along with the rest of your crew. After the first morning of instruction, you and your partner work together to hone your skills and move your canoe with growing coordination and confidence. Together you rehearse maneuvers and plan your route through easy rapids the first day. You'll put your new abilities to use subsequent days as you run more difficult whitewater.
During Sessions I and II, we plan to offer activity-specific five-day Odyssey experiences. Last year we offered mountain biking, backpacking, climbing, and whitewater canoeing. We hope to do the same again this year. The five-day session will offer instruction and equipment in whichever activity you choose. We will ask for your preferences on the registration form and try to place each person in his or her first or second choice activity.
The eight-day Backcountry Odyssey includes a one-day service project that gives each crew an opportunity to work together to bring improvements to the local community. These projects have included work at an elementary school in Asheville, N.C., work at a regional retreat center for artists, and work on an environmental education center.