Exploration Adventure or “XA” trips are the topic-based branch of Hamilton’s Orientation Adventure Trip offerings.  XA trips aim to cover a wide variety of interests, from beekeeping to cycling, letterpress printing to history, and more.  A full listing of the 2015 XA trips offered can be found here.  The primary goals of an XA trip is to provide new students with opportunities to form early connections with their peers and other members of the Hamilton community, to explore a topic that interests them, and to get to know more about the greater Clinton, Utica, and Central New York communities that they are joining.

XA trips are unique in their opportunity for faculty and staff invovlement.  Approximately half of Hamilton’s Exploration Adventure trips are led or proposed by Hamilton College faculty and staff, most of whom have no other direct invovlement with Orientation.  Faculty/staff invovlement can take a number of forms: while some individuals choose to propose, build and help lead their own topic-based trips, others do some preliminary research on sites or simply propose a topic, and then join the group during Orientation, with XA staff building the trip itinerary.

Participation in an XA trip provides community members at Hamilton with a unique opportunity to interact with first-year students.  During the trip, you will get to know Hamilton’s newest students in a unique setting, exploring the region alongside a small group of first-years with time to chat and help welcome them to Hamilton.  The trip dates for 2016 are Wednesday, August 17 - Saturday, August 20th.  More detail about time commitment is below.

Faculty/staff role:

  • Propose trip topic and help identify sites and activities in the greater CNY area related to that theme. (See more information below)
  • Participate on trip (Wednesday, August 17 - Saturday, August 20, 2016).  In order to receive the stipend for trip participation, faculty/staff leaders should plan to spend a minimum of two full days or 18 hours with group during the trip dates.  Faculty/staff participation is typically limited to daytime hours (ie: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.).
  • Join the group on site visits or trip activities.  While some faculty choose to guide significant portions of the trip (leading tours, giving short talks at a site, facilitating activities such as a yoga workshop, writing reflection, cooking demo or honey-bottling), you are also encouraged to participate with students in the activities, chat with them, or jump in to add information as appropriate. 
  • The role of the faculty or staff member is not to manage group dynamics or behaviors.  Each XA trip has two upper-class student leaders who will assume this role.  Faculty and staff will work collaboratively with the leaders to link sites and activities to the trip’s theme, to get to know students, and to encourage new students to explore and enjoy the experience.

Tips for proposing a trip:

  • Structured activities are typically limited to daytime hours (9am - 5pm).  Dinnertime and evening hours are reserved for student group bonding and social time facilitated by the student leaders. 
  • Start with a topic that interests you. Your topic need not relate to your role at the college - hobbies or interests that you pursue outside of work are often a great fit for a trip.  If you have favorite sites or activities in the area that you think may appeal to new students, those are often a good place to start.  XA staff can help you to research sites to visit or trip activities, but we also encourage you to use other members of the campus and greater communities as resources.
  • Consider a base camp trip.  In 2016, we are seeking proposals for trips that will remain in one location and explore a topic in a retreat format.  These will likely be housed at a camp in the Adirondacks, where each trip group will have a small cabin, and can blend discussion, presentations and hands-on activities related to their topic with exploration of the area via hiking, canoeing, swimming, and other locally-based outings.
  • Explore past trip topics and descriptions here.
  • View sample XA trip itineraries: American Freedom, A Local Arts Experience, and NY Frontier Warfare
  • Have an idea for a topic but not sure where to start?  Reach out to Tessa at tchefalo@hamilton.edu for more information.


  • Faculty/staff stipend of $1000 for the whole trip.  This will be paid as a lump sum or at an hourly rate depending on your employment status (exempt or non-exempt) with the college at the time of the trip.  In order to receive stipend, faculty/staff leaders should plan to participate in a minimum of 20 hours of the trip.
  • Reimbursement for mileage directly related to the trip.
  • Accomodations such as hotel rooms, meals and other incidentals can be paid for or reimbursed.  Transportation and overnight lodging for faculty/staff can also be arranged by XA staff as necessary.
  • Collaboration with XA staff on trip planning, including site selection and theme development
  • XA staff will manage all payments, student transportation, and booking of student group’s overnight lodging. 


Ready to propose an XA trip for 2016?  Download the proposal form, fill out as much as you can, and return to Tessa Chefalo, Coordinator of Orientation and First Year Programs, via campus mail or email at tchefalo@hamilton.edu.  You don't need to have all of the details worked out in order to submit a proposal, but a general theme and a few possible sites or activities are useful as a starting point.  Trip proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis through early April 2016.

Interested in proposing a trip but need more information, or unsure where to start?  Contact Tessa at tchefalo@hamilton.edu or x4846.


Contact Name

Tessa Chefalo

Assistant Dean of Students for Student Engagement

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