Scrambles: A way to bond

Maggie Allen

On the warm evening of Aug. 28, over 100 dirty but excited freshmen sang and hopped around in sleeping bags. By the time dinner and skit night was over, it was clear that each group had become close during their weeklong outdoor orientations.

This year marked the 31st anniversary of Scrambles, and according to Scramble intern Lydia Hayes, everything went smoothly.

One hundred thirty-eight incoming freshmen and 46 leaders participated in 16 trips, ranging from backpacking or kayaking on the coast to rock climbing at Smith Rock.

This year, they were so popular that there were 70 students on the waitlist at one time.   The most desired Scramble, Bodacious Bouncing Boating, was filled within the first two days of registration, and most were full within a week.

“I UPS’ed my decision the first day,” first-year Grant Bradley, who went on Olympic Gold Gallivanting, said.
Bradley and other first years hiked on the Olympic Peninsula about 40 miles for six days, seeing such wild sights as a bald eagle flying off with a fish in its talons and a decomposed beached whale.

Other Scrambles enjoyed their time in nature. First-year Brett Konen, a Bodacious Bouncing Boater, loved rafting on the Salmon River and sleeping under the stars.

“I liked not having to work,” Konen said.

First-year Lea Gariando kayaked on Ross Lake for about a week, but she enjoyed bonding with her new friends over the beauty of the wilderness.

“It really jump-started some close friendships with people I might not have even met since we’re in different dorms and such,” Gariando said.

Konen agreed, “It’s good to know people when you get to Whitman. It helped to meet other people.”

“From my perspective, it’s cool to see freshmen come here that don’t know each other at all,” Alicia Riley, the OP rental shop manager said, “And then see them all at the skit night with all these experiences. It’s awesome.”
Sophomore Zach Morrissey, who led the Scramble to Mt. Hood, also concurred.

“Scrambles are really great because it helps freshmen network a bit before coming to school and are then able to come with a base of a few good friends before they get overwhelmed with hundreds of other new faces in the coming weeks,” Morrissey said, “Coming from the East Coast and not knowing any Whitties prior to my Scramble, it helped me ease in to a life at Whitman with a couple close friends.”

Senior Kate Levy, who led the Stellar Sawtooths Scramble, added, “Scrambles give students a safe place to ask other Whitties about campus, professors, and college life in general.   There is the outdoor component as well.   I believe that passion for the  outdoors is a defining aspect of Whitman culture, and introducing students to Whitman and to the activities many Whitties adore is all a part of welcoming and introducing freshmen to Whitman life.”

These leaders were put through hours of training to be able to partake in these bonding excursions.

All leaders must possess wilderness first aid. They also all must be certified to drive a 15 passenger van, which involves taking a four hour online course, spending three hours in a classroom, and driving at least one hour behind the wheel.

“One should probably also have at least some experience in the outdoors before, as it would also probably help,” Morrissey said, “Scramble leaders then go on a leader training pre-trip, sometimes to the destination of your Scramble and sometimes not.”

With certain trips, other training or certifications are required.

Senior Luke Sanford, for example, a leader for the whitewater-rafting trip, took a six-day long American Canoe and Kayak Instructor Training class and a “swift water rescue” class.

However, the many hours spent in training and taking tests, seems worth it to these upperclassmen.
Morrissey’s favorite part of his Scramble “were the Scramblers themselves. It was an awesome group of freshman, and they didn’t put up a fuss even when we hit a couple tough situations on the trail. We did some swimming in ridiculously cold alpine lakes, and made some awesome food.”

Sanford also greatly adored leading Scrambles. He has led three in total, but he claimed the rafting one was his favorite.

“I really, really enjoy rafting,” he said, “especially when you have a good group of people to raft with. It’s just really fun to hang out with people.”

Even when rafting or kayaking rapids turns into swimming rapids, the Scramblers still enjoy themselves.
“Four of our five inflatable kayaks flipped in the same rapid because they all aimed for the feature that we tried to tell them to stay away from, but a lot of people put that as their favorite experiences of the trip,” Sanford said.

This story is just one among many that different freshmen will remember forever, and the OP is proud to organize such an amazing program.

“It’s a lot of work putting it together, but we’re looking forward to keep expanding,” Hayes said.

With the successful year of Scrambles completed, the OP is ready for the next batch of eager young freshmen to embark on journeys around the Pacific Northwest.