Frequently Asked Questions
How Does Registration Work?
Hamilton students come from all over the world, and many live away from home for school. For these reasons, and many more, our registration is not ‘first come first serve’ but deadline based. This means that we cannot guarantee anyone a place until we get to June 15th, deadline day. What we can say, though, is that we have always been able to find room for everyone in the end.
All incoming first-year and transfer students receive access to the registration site in May, and all registration is online. If you happen to come across a link or pdf to an old OA or AA registration form, please let us know so we can remove it.
This year’s registration must be received by June 15. Confirmation will be mailed around June 23. You will find out your specific trip information during the first week in July.
Once you’ve been accepted to the program, you will receive a packet with information and a health form, which must be completed and returned to us by July 24th.
I’ve never been on a service trip before. Do I need any experience to go on an OA trip?
No, these trips suit all levels of service experience. Leaders are there to guide your service experience, so nobody should feel like they are excluded because of a lack of experience. If you have done service similar to that on the trips, then you can be a resource to a fellow trip member who may not have much experience. There is an emphasis on group bonding during the trip and if you have never experienced anything like this, performing service while in a close group of peers really adds to the emotional connections made over the four days away from campus.
Where will our group stay?
Our trips spend the nights in local churches or community centers, except for the environmental/community farming trip. We make sure that each sleep site has a kitchen and fridge as well as a good assortment of cooking tools, because this is where students keep their food for the week away and eat their meals.
Who goes on the trip?
Each trip is comprised of between 6 and 10 participants and 2 upperclass student leaders. Amy James and Jeff McArn, the directors of OA, and the student assistant director often visit sites to make sure things are running smoothly and provide extra supplies if necessary. Amy and Jeff, as well as the OA Program Assistant, are available by telephone at all times throughout the trip week, however, very rarely does anyone ever get contacted. The trips are well-supplied and coordinated before departure, and the leaders are highly competent. There is an intensive week of training in May, as well as an additional 5 days in August before participants arrive on campus during which leaders are trained in first-aid and CPR, and many possible problem scenarios are explored.
What is the ropes course/ outdoor experience at the end of the week all about?
At the end of the pre-orientation week, all trips (AA and OA) go to one of a few camps in the Adirondacks for 2 nights, which provides an opportunity for a much larger group of first years to get acquainted and share experiences with one another. The majority of participants will go to a local high ropes course with trained individuals who work at the course full time facilitating different activities up in the trees. The remainder of the students will go white water rafting in the area.
These activities are meant to acquaint participants with some of the great recreational activities that the Adirondacks has to offer as well as provide opportunities for growth and reflection. One of the mottos of pre-orientation is “challenge by choice.” There are few other times where students will be in an environment as supportive and stimulating as this, and they are encouraged to take full advantage of this and explore opportunities for challenge and growth. This is a great chance to get out of your comfort zone with new friends and leaders who are all cheering you on!
What will we eat? What if I have dietary restrictions?
All non-perishables for breakfast, lunches and dinners (often Italian or Mexican-themed) are purchased ahead of time. On Saturday, groups have time to sit down and decide what perishables and add-ons they would like to purchase and will shop Sunday evening after working at Chenango Canal. Students with dietary restrictions will be able to work with the leaders to shop for specialized food items (gluten-free breads or pastas, lactose-free products, etc.) In addition, we are notified of food allergies/restrictions in advance so that we can ensure, for example, a peanut-free trip or whatever the need might be. Finally, there is also the opportunity to find a local restaurant and eat out one evening and the group will respect any dietary restrictions of its members.
I get bored easily. What is there to do on the service portion of these trips?
When you are on your trip, your group will be occupied with service experiences during the day. Our goal is to make these experiences varied, challenging in some way, interesting and rewarding, however there may be lulls or more repetitive tasks as is true of all service work. Our hope is that the group is having enough fun together to head off the occasional slow moments! As for evenings, if you are in Utica area or nearby, the group normally attends “Utica Monday Nite,” a weekly music and performance festival at a variety of venues in Utica. In the past, multiple OA trips have congregated at these events on the lawn in front of Utica city hall and then gone back to one of the churches to play games. Speaking of games, game playing is a huge activity on these trips. There are many different ones, at first taught by the leaders, but bring some ideas with you and you can teach them to your group. If trips are staying relatively close to one another, leaders will coordinate “play dates” that give participants a chance to meet more people in their class and play games in a bigger group. Lastly, each group chooses an especially hot day or night to indulge in ice cream. Having a cold, sweet treat after a rewarding day of sweaty work is truly second to none.
Will I be able to shower on my trip?
Likely not until you arrive at the ropes course, but this is part of the bonding experience! Everyone gets to have greasy hair and smell bad together! Plus, the shower you take at the camp site in the Adirondacks will just feel that much better. Please do not bring too much perfume, cologne, or other pungent products. That said, deodorant is highly encouraged and sponge baths are smiled upon if you are so inclined.