Last weekend I joined my daughters Hannah (10) and Sarah (15) for the Camp Dartmouth experience in Hanover New Hampshire. We spent three days from Friday to Sunday (July 26-28) on campus, living in one of the new residence halls, eating in the ’53 Commons dining hall and participating in the various activities organized by the leaders and counselors. It was a great way to reconnect with my alma mater and to share a slice of my Dartmouth College days with my daughters, while also giving them the opportunity to enjoy a summer weekend in Hanover. Living on campus for a weekend also brought back fond if distant memories of my summers on the Dartmouth campus in 1989 and 1990.
Highlights of our Camp Dartmouth experience included canoeing on the Connecticut River, swimming in Storrs Pond, and hiking up to the fire tower on Giles Mountain in nearby Vermont. We also engaged in fun social activities in Occom Commons, a wonderful space across from Bildner, the residence hall where we stayed.
I enjoyed two special talks with the other adult campers while the girls did other activities. One was a very detailed and riveting account by Professor Donald Pease of the famous case of Dartmouth College versus the State of New Hampshire, featuring our super-star alumnus Daniel Webster. Another was a fascinating talk by Dartmouth Alumni Magazine editor Sean Plottner about the making of the 250th anniversary edition of the magazine, including how the cover was designed and how a team of faculty and staff selected the top 25 influential alumni for the edition. While Hannah was resting in her dorm room, Sarah and I also attended a very useful talk on the process of selecting and applying to colleges (see her comments below).
Over the weekend, I also arranged for us to spend some time on Saturday evening with my former Chinese professor, Dr. Susan Blader, and my professor of Chinese history Dr. Pamela Crossley. We had dinner in a quaint inn in the nearby town of Lyme. As always it was nice to catch up with my dear professors, who first led me on the path of Chinese studies. They also had some sage advice for Sarah and Hannah about choosing colleges.
By day 3, we were getting friendly with the other campers and getting to know them by name. It was a shame we had to leave so soon! After we returned to Acton, Massachusetts where we are staying with my mother and step-father, I asked the girls to summarize their Camp Dartmouth experiences. Here are their own accounts of the weekend in Hanover:
What did we learn about Dartmouth college? We learned about family friendship and the importance of education. How building up a strong education can change the life of millions. How getting a standard college degree can benefit one’s life and give more opportunities. And how to get that college/university experience. From personality tests to give one a clue what career path. To the specific details, like what score one should get on the SAT, or what is a real college tour like? I’ve learned many hacks and tricks to choosing which colleges/universities to apply to and how to apply to them. To me choosing the right colleges/universities is like finding the right outfit, it might seem hard and some might not care, but there is always something for everyone. And in the end college is just an experience, a school of higher education, a pathway to adulthood. Not a must but a way for young adults to explore themselves and get to know themselves more. I’ve learnt that it is not about how much money your parents spent or how many hours you spent on wasting your youth just to get in an ivy league school. It is about learning, recognizing, and accepting that is who you are going to be.
I had a glamorous weekend at Camp Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire. There were amazingly fun activities. We had activities as a family, and as individuals.1~2 hr lectures were held for people who were not able or too old to go to other things.When we first got there on Friday they showered us with a huge goodie-bag filled with things like a picnic blanket, bubble water, thrice the number of picnic blanket were the number for the flashlights, sunglasses, and our name tags.We arrived at our dormitories which were perfectly perfect and very clean. We had about one hour before dinner which was deliciously scrumptious, but anyways we walked around the area which was absolutely beautiful. At around 9 o’clock we went Occom Commons to design an outfit for the councilors. On Saturday we went to lectures, yoga, swimming, etc. On Sunday we did a hike to a fire tower and it was so cold up there I went down at halfway. Then we did canoeing down Connecticut River, had a fun summer splash in the water and had to go. Overall, Camp Dartmouth is really good place to go for summer fun.
Finally, we’d like to give special thanks to Walter Palmer ’90, his daughter Sarah, and Margaret and all the other counselors for making Camp Dartmouth such a fun, friendly, and rewarding experience for all!