On Sunday evening, half of the freshmen gathered at Dillon Gymnasium to split into their groups. Outdoor Action (OA) is the largest collegiate camping organization in the country. Princeton requires that every incoming freshman goes on an OA or Community Action (CA) trip for five days. I was assigned to a backpacking and canoeing trip at the Delaware Water Gap. Nothing new for this Boy Scout.
My group was rather nice, though for a program that is supposed randomly mix people it was rather ironic that half of them hailed from D.C. Later that night, we went to one of our guide’s rooms in Rockefeller College. That building is very cool; everything has a 1920s Gatsby feel to it. All of us packed our equipment and played a few games.
In the morning, we headed towards northern New Jersey. Our trip started at the Matamoras boat launch in Pennsylvania. As our boats floated down the river, we stopped at various places, such as Tri-State Rock where PA, NJ, and NY all meet. That night, we stayed at the Kitatinny Campground. Our food was a mix of bagged meat, weird cheese, vegetarian gluten free spinach tortillas (aka cardboard), trail mix (called gorp), peanut butter, and Nutella, the nectar of life. The next day, we continued down the river. The Delaware River Valley is very pretty with steep hills lining the sides. We set up camp at a site just beyond Dingman’s Ferry. On the third day, we canoed several miles before being taken by a bus to High Point State Park. The bus driver told us the story about the Tocks Island Dam. At the State Park, we stayed by the park office for a few hours as one of the group members was rushed to the E.R. She returned safely. On the fourth day, we hiked a few miles on the Appalachian Trail. Along the way, we paused at an observation deck near the highest point in New Jersey. It had a spectacular 360° view of the surrounding hills. We sojourned at a trail shelter for the night. The return trip was a steep hike up a hill in the heat.
During the bus ride back, we saw a black bear in a tree along the road. Somehow, our bus ride that should have been an hour long took four and a half hours. For dinner, I ate with my OA group at Butler College. They have very good cheesesteaks.
As I sit here in an Adirondack chair on the lawn in front of Whitman, I watch the copious numbers of freshmen walking eastward to the eating clubs. Tonight marks the beginning of Frosh Week. More on that to come…