Hilltop Scholars Program
Southern Methodist University
Student Award for
Introduction & Overview
What is Hilltop Scholars?
The Hilltop Scholars Program (HSP) is a living-learning experience designed to assist high-achieving first year
students in transitioning the skills that made them successful in high school to the college environment. The program is a
collaborative effort between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs which houses students in two neighboring residence
halls (Smith Residence Hall and Perkins Residence Hall, collectively referred to as “Smerkins”) that function as a single
community. The two buildings share a single staff of RAs and residents have access to both the buildings which allows
them to function as one residence hall. Not only do the Hilltop Scholars live together in a highly-interactive community
environment, but they also take two classes per semester together in a classroom in the residence hall. These classes are
kept to a small size (average between 12-20 students) and are taught by highly engaging faculty members which allows
for greater student-faculty interaction both in class and at hall programs and events.
The Community staff work cooperatively with the faculty members to make progress towards three learning
outcomes: Academics, Leadership, & Community. All students within the community are made aware of these learning
outcomes through one-on-one interactions with HSP Faculty and Staff and through participation in various community
programs and educational initiatives.
The Hilltop Scholars Program Expedition is a radically
different collaborative effort between residential students, Student
Affairs, and Academic Affairs to provide a total immersion
leadership experience to incoming first year students. The program
was based on the learning outcomes of the Hilltop Scholars Program
community at SMU. A 7-day backpacking experience was designed
to give a group of residential students the leadership tools they
needed to hit the ground running as soon as they arrived on
campus. This program will cover the development and assessment
of learning outcomes, the expedition program from conception to
execution, and present qualitative and quantitative results.
Goals and Objectives
At the beginning of the Spring of 2009, a survey was conducted in the community that measured progress towards
the Hilltop Scholars Program (HSP) community learning outcomes. A summary chart of the results is below. From these
results, you can see that residents were showing much higher achievement in the academic area than the leadership and
community areas. Additionally, out of all three outcome areas, the Hilltop Scholars Program has had the least amount of
improvement on their leadership abilities (only 44%).
60% 56% 54%
Academic Critical Inquiry Academic Leadership Leadership Community Community
activites improvement activities improvement activities improvement
These results showed an opportunity for increased leadership development within the community. After looking
over the results, Diana Howard (Director of the Hilltop Scholars Program) and Amber Kosik (Residence Hall Director for
the Hilltop Scholars Program) began brainstorming ideas for an outside-of-the-box leadership program that would not
only serve this purpose but also assist with recruiting and retaining students for the program as well as provide an
opportunity for continued involvement with the program beyond the first year. Amber met with focus groups of students
who expressed a desire for a large scale leadership program that would give HSP students an advantage early in the
academic year. Amber had done some work previously with David Chambers (Associate Director of Recreational Sports)
on leadership development and asked him if he had any ideas. David mentioned the idea of a summer leadership
backpacking trip based off of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) curriculum and the planning began.
The goal for the first year of the trip was for the majority of the planning to be done by faculty and staff members
with input provided continuously from current HSP students and students who participated in the Outdoor Adventures
Program at SMU. The vision for future years of the program was for students to take the reins and plan the trip with the
assistance of the faculty and staff members. This would not only provide the desired leadership training for incoming first
year students, but also give students the opportunity to maintain involvement and leadership within the Hilltop Scholars
Program past their first year.
Student Needs Addressed
The Leadership learning outcome for the HSP community is as follows:
Hilltop Scholars students will identify their personal leadership
abilities. They will learn how to use their leadership strengths
towards the accomplishment of individual goals and as a
contributing member to the goals of organizations to which they
In order to achieve progress towards this learning outcome, the following
set of learning outcomes were developed for the HSP Expedition.
Leadership – Students will develop individual leadership skills and learn how to effectively use them in a group/ team
Self Awareness – Students will discover their individual leadership style and learn how different leadership styles
work together effectively
Vision & Action - Students will learn how to use their individual values, vision,
passion, and social responsibility to become transformational leaders
Tolerance for Adversity – Students will learn what traits to practice in order to
survive and thrive in adversity and challenge
Judgment & Decision Making – Students will discover common traps in
leadership decisions and how they can avoid falling into those traps
Conflict Resolution – Students will learn what Emotional Intelligence is and how
to use its concepts to have conflict resolving conversations with others
Feedback – Student will learn the benefits of giving and receiving feedback and
how to do so in an effective manner
Interdependence – Students will learn how to depend on the members of the group/team to achieve a group
National Outdoor Leadership School curriculum was modified to
fit these designated learning outcomes. The trip was designed to
teach these skills through a combination of leadership classes taught
in the field as well as experiential learning that would occur
throughout the expedition. Six 10-15 minute interactive leadership
classes were taught by Amber and Diana to the groups throughout
the trip. These sessions covered the following topics:
• Self Awareness
• Vision & Action
• Tolerance for Adversity
• Judgment & Decision Making
• Conflict Resolution
Students also each got a turn to serve as their group’s “leader of the day” and lead the group in navigating the course and
handling any conflicts or issues that would arise. This was an opportunity for the students to put into practice the
leadership traits they were learning in the classes each day.
The participants were also given journals at the beginning of the trip. During each leadership session they received a
notes page on a sticker that contained the nuts and bolts from the lessons (a sample of the Feedback classes’ notes is
below). They then took notes during each session next to the sticker. Each night, a journal entry sticker was also given to
each participant. The journal entry sticker gave them a spot to write down where they traveled that day, what they ate, the
elevation they covered, and prompted them to respond to 3-5 questions designed to assist their processing of the day’s
activities and lessons (a sample of the journal entry for day 3 is below).
Feedback is a gift! We can’t improve without feedback and we are
constantly giving and receiving feedback…whether we know it or not!
To give feedback DO FIRST
• Dignity – preserve their dignity, separate person from behavior
• Own it – use “I” statements
• Future – emphasize “next time”, the individual chooses to grow
• Inquire – learn as well as tell, how did your actions impact them
• Relationship – show the cause-effect relationships at play
• Specific – describe behavior clearly and directly
• Timely – close to the event, don’t interrupt them, find a good time
• DO NOT blame, judge, accuse, use sarcasm, peace out, etc.
To receive feedback:
• Be a learner – now and in the future
• Actively listen – ask for clarification if necessary
• Be honest about how the feedback is affecting you
• Take it as information, not definition
HSP take home – Grades, job performance, student group interactions
Journal Entry for Day 3
Tuesday, July 21st 2009
Traveled from: ____________________ to ____________________
Distance covered: ____________________
Elevation covered: ____________________________
Things I ate: _________________________________________________
1. Who were the leaders of the day? How did they lead?
2. Was their leadership successful?
3. Was it difficult for you to serve as a follower/leader today?
4. What was the most memorable moment of today?
Content & Planning
Participants Cost Actual Revenue Budgeted
19 $ 299.00 $ 5,681.00 $3,668.00
Permit* $ 300.00 $ 5,381.00
Lodging* $ 440.00 $ 4,941.00
Parking* $ 120.00 $ 4,821.00
Conference Res Hall $ - $ 4,821.00 $ -
Transportation Rental Van $1,049.80 $ 3,771.20 $1,000.00
Gasoline $ 570.91 $ 3,200.29 $ 500.00
Grocery $ 447.00 $ 2,753.29 $ 828.00
Meals $ 518.32 $ 2,234.97 $ 140.00
Airport Shuttles* $ 2.00 $ 2,232.97
T-shirts* $ 250.00 $ 1,982.97
Water Bottles* $ 159.80 $ 1,823.17
Journals* $ 135.45 $ 1,687.72
Administrative* $ 100.00 $ 1,587.72
Equip $ - $ 1,587.72 $ 200.00
Journal Labels* $ 40.00 $ 1,547.72
HSP Admin $ 53.90 $ 1,493.82
Staffing-OAC $ 945.00 $ 548.82 $1,000.00
Fall Reunion Banquet* $ 509.42 $ 39.40
TOTALS $5,641.60 $ 39.40 $3,668.00
Actual Participant Cost 19 $296.93
*Unforeseen and unexpected expenditures
Personal Needs – Participants were responsible for bringing
any personal items they would need during the trip. The Outdoor
Adventure Center provided the students with the option of checking
out a backpack, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad if students did not
already have their own. They also provided all group gear for the trip
which included tents, cooking stoves, emergency supplies, etc.
Students were provided a detailed packing list several weeks before
the trip so they could prepare appropriately. The first day of the trip
the leaders had all the students unpack their packs and helped them
sort through what they did and did not need to make sure that
everyone had everything they needed and weren’t carrying any extra
weight for the trip.
Month Topics/Items People Involved
February • Initial discussions with ADRL Amber & Leasa Kowalski
• Communications with New Student Orientation and Student Support Amber & Missy Bryant
• Identify potential cost of trip for each participant David Chambers
• Identify potential locations and timelines for the trip David & Albert
March • Discuss feedback/suggestions from NSOSS Planning team
• Research outcomes and designs of similar programs – benchmark Planning team
• Present trip concept/plan to RLSH leadership & Dedman leadership Steve, Jenn, Leasa, Dennis
April • Present trip concept/plan to Student Affairs leadership Dr. Webb, Steve, Jenn,
• Develop application, liability waiver, and advertisements for program Planning team
• Finalize the name of the program Planning team
May • Make arrangements for the trip with SMU in Taos David Chambers
• Modify NOLS curriculum for Hilltop Scholars Planning team
• Send info via mail and e-mail to students who RSVPed for HSP Diana Howard
• Order t-shirts, Nalgene bottles for participants Amber Kosik
• Order equipment needed for the trip David & Albert
June • Collect applications & payments from participants Albert Mitugo
• Begin meeting weekly to finalize trip plans Planning Team
• Write learning outcomes for the leadership curriculum Amber Kosik
July • Coordinate arrival/departure plans with participants Amber & Albert
• Rent/reserve van David & Albert
• Coordinate overnight housing on-campus with RLSH Amber & Kerensa Williams
• The trip…see execution section below
August • Survey participants about their experience on the trip Amber Kosik
• Send thank-you notes from students and staff to partners Planning team
• Plan and execute the reunion dinner Amber Kosik & team
• Review results of survey and first week on campus for impact on Planning team
SMU Faculty and Staff Members involved in the process
• Amber Kosik – Residence Hall Director, Hilltop Scholars Program – Served on the planning team and served as a
group leader on the Expedition
• Diana Howard – Director, Hilltop Scholars Program - Served on the planning team and served as a group leader
on the Expedition
• David Chambers – Associate Director, Recreational Sports for Programs and Outdoor Adventure - Served on the
planning team and served as a group leader on the Expedition
• Albert Mitugo – Outdoor Adventure Assistant Manager - Served on the planning team and served as a group
leader on the Expedition
• Missy Bryant & Ashley Stone – New Student Orientation and Student Support – Assisted in verifying that all
students attending the trip were registered for AARO and Corral and were not all in the same Corral round-up
• Dennis Cordell – Associate Vice Provost for General Education - Backed the program from the Academic Affairs
side of the house.
• Mike Adler – SMU in Taos – Coordinated our arrangements for staying on the SMU in Taos campus on the first
and last night in Taos. Provided meals and a tour of the campus to participants.
• Kerensa Williams – RLSH – Coordinated rooms for participants to stay in on campus prior to the trip and after
returning from the trip.
Planning for Next Year
The planning process has begun for next years’ trip. Students who attended the 2009 Expedition are meeting with the
planning team to enhance this curriculum. These students will then be responsible for teaching the leadership lessons
each day and guiding the 2010 participants through the backcountry. At group meetings and through one on one
meetings with the HSP Hall Director, the students have been assessing and exploring opportunities to expand the trip
without compromising the quality of it. They have decided to keep the group sizes at a maximum of 8 students per small
group with two small groups on each trip, and have opted to expand the trip by offering two separate trips to
accommodate double the participation. Students who will be leading the trip for next year have begun to undergo training
on wilderness protocol and first aid as well as further training on the leadership topics so that they can effectively lead next
years’ participants through both the physical course and the leadership curriculum. This training will continue throughout
the spring semester and the early part of the summer. Both of next years’ trips will occur in July.
1. Application Process
• Students received a link to the enrollment form along with the “what to expect” document via both e-mail
and snail mail once they accepted their nomination to the Hilltop Scholars Program
• Students completed the enrollment form and returned it to the Outdoor Adventures Center (OAC) along
with a $100 deposit to reserve their spot on the Expedition – checks were mailed, credit card numbers
were received over the phone
• Once the student’s enrollment form was received, they were e-mailed a participant packet which included
a packing list and a medical release form to be returned by July 1st
• The remaining $199 of payment was turned in by July 1st
2. Arrival in Dallas
• As part of the participant packet, students listed their arrival date/time and method
• Amber and Albert followed up with each student about travel methods and flight times
• Students were offered a ride from the airport the day the expedition started (July the 18th) and back to the
airport the day after it ended ( July the 27th)
• Amber worked with participants and the Department of Residence Life and Student Housing to make sure
they had housing if they were attending an Orientation session before or after the trip
3. Pre-trip meeting
• The trip officially began at 5pm on July the 18th in the
• Participants introduced themselves and leaders
discussed their roles for the trip
• David and Albert covered all the necessary must-knows
about the trip/logistics
• Amber and Diana covered the benefits/leadership side
of the trip
• Pizza was delivered at 6pm for everyone
• Students were issued any necessary gear and created
their GORP (trail mix) bags
• We used a classroom upstairs in the Dedman center to explode our packs and help students re-pack their
4. Housing on campus
• All the participants stayed on one floor of a residence hall the night before the trip. They individually picked
up their keys at the front desk and were responsible for returning those after the trip.
• After the meeting, the students hung out together before going to bed.
• The trip leaders met at 4:40am and packed all the full packs into the back of the vans along with all the
• Students were picked up behind the residence hall at 5:00am with their overnight bags/travel items
• Drivers alternated as needed along the way
• We stopped for breakfast and lunch on the road and at several gas stations – participants paid their own
way for these meals/snacks
6. SMU in Taos
• We arrived at SMU in Taos about 5:30pm
• The group ate dinner at the dining hall that night
• Amber divided the group into two groups (Red and Blue)
that would be traveling together throughout the expedition
• Albert and David taught their perspective groups how to set
up camp and each tent group set up their camp for the
• The leaders pulled the group together and talked about the
plan for the next day as well as introduced the journals for
• The next morning we had breakfast in the dining hall and
were given a tour of the campus by Mike Adler and a faculty
member from the campus before heading out to the backcountry
• We picked up backcountry permits which took longer than expected due to a misunderstanding in the
communication between our group and the Carson National Forest people
• We then drove to the first trail head and the Blue group parked in a motel lot and hit the trail
• The red group drove further down the road, parked at Taos ski valley and hit the trail
• A description of the days in the backcountry is listed below
Date Blue Group Red Group Weather
Day 1 July 20th Hiked 1.5 miles with Hiked 2 miles with Mostly clear
high elevation to a elevation to
glade, set up camp
Day 2 July 21st Hiked 7.5 miles with Hiked 3 miles with Clear in the morning.
elevation gain. Got elevation. Set up camp Hail storm started in
caught in hail storm, set at Goose Lake before late afternoon and
up camp in valley by hail storm hit. lasted throughout the
Goose Lake. night.
Day 3 July 22nd Hiked 2 miles to Bull of Hiked 1.5 miles to Bull Clear in the morning.
the Woods pasture. of the Woods pasture. Brief hail storm in the
afternoon. Clear at night
Day 4 July 23rd Had some students who were ill so group decided Clear with light rain in
to stay at Bull of Woods again and day hike – 2 early evening.
miles - to Bull of the Woods peak. Taught cooking
and laundry lessons during the afternoon.
Day 5 July 24th Day hike to Wheeler Peak – 8 miles round trip with Clear.
high elevation gain. Two leaders stayed back with
group, two went on the hike. Stayed at Bull of
Woods pasture again.
Day 6 July 25th Leaders woke up early and hiked out without the Clear.
group after informing leaders of the day. Students
hiked out later that morning alone. We met at Taos
Ski Valley where we provided them fresh baked
• We reserved two casitas for the groups to stay in for the night so that we would have access to showers
• We stopped at a gas station to get drinks, candy, etc to enjoy on the way home and also stopped at the
Gorge for them to site see for a few minutes
• We returned to SMU in Taos in the afternoon and had a few hours for everyone to take showers and check
• We headed into Taos and had dinner at Outback Pizza as a large group
• After the dinner we returned to one of the casitas and talked about the trip a bit. We de-briefed the week
and all that had happened and got an idea of the students’ perspective and how the trip would impact their
time at SMU. We also gave the T-shirts to the students as a trophy of completion and had them sign thank-
you cards for Dr. White and Dennis Cordell.
• We left Taos at 5:00am and returned about 6:30pm
• We stopped for breakfast and lunch on the road and allowed the students to get dinner on their own
• We checked back all equipment from students when we returned and they took their bag liners back to
their rooms with all their belongings to transfer back to their own luggage
10. Reunion Dinner
• During the first week of school we wanted to get the
students back together to see how they were doing and
how their involvement in the expedition had impacted
their first few weeks at SMU
• We took them to dinner at Celebration Restaurant so they
could reconnect with each other a bit
• After the dinner each trip leaders spoke about their
experience and hopes for the future
• The students then had time to share their opinions and
ideas for getting involved on campus
Effect on Students
This leadership training exercise drastically affected the first year experience for the 18 students who participated.
The results of the official assessments performed were great (see below), but what was more impressive was the verbal,
anecdotal feedback that was evident in the first semester these students spent on campus. Move-in day is often a stressful
event for first year students, but for these 18 students, move-in day was like a homecoming. They all ran towards each
others with smiles forming from ear to ear. The hall staff received several comments from their parents’ about how much
more comfortable they felt about dropping their student off at college knowing they already had a group of great friends.
These connections really helped to form a fabric within the Hilltop Scholars Community from
In terms of leadership, the expedition has already provided some great results for
these students. A large majority of the students who ran for and were elected to Hall Council
positions in the fall were Expedition participants. Additionally, it was clear that these
students arrived on campus with a goal of getting involved as quickly as possible. They
immediately began applying for leadership opportunities and investigating student
organizations to invest their time in. Several of stopped by the Hall Directors’ office to talk
about how they used the conflict resolution material they learned on the trip to work
through a roommate conflict. Others have mentioned that they have been able to build a
strong relationship with their faculty members because they understood how to
appropriately receive feedback and use it to improve their performance. All of the
participants have, at one point or another, mentioned how grateful they were for the
experience and how strongly it impacted their level of success early in their first year at SMU.
Assessment Methods Used
Two weeks after returning from the trip, the participants were e-mailed the link to a survey in which they were asked
questions about their experiences. These questions were designed to both gage progress towards learning outcomes and
gain input for further development/improvement of the trip.
1. Survey Results
Below are the learning outcomes survey results. The results show very high achievement of the overall learning
outcomes for the program. The areas for future focus are: Judgment & Decision Making, Conflict Resolution, &
Feedback. The results of the feedback portion of the survey are also included below. This feedback was mostly
reinforcing of the trip and only mildly suggests possibly making the trip a little more challenging for participants.
2. Anecdotal Results
Throughout the year, Amber, Diana, David, and Albert were monitoring the behavior, comments, and success of
the students who attended the expedition and noted any specific details that may be of interest. Those are noted
Quantitative Learning Outcomes Results
Individual Leadership Skills Summary
90% 80% 81%
Self Awareness Transformational Tolerance for Judgment &
Leadershio Adversity Decision Making
Group Dynamics Summary
Conflict Resolution Feedback Interdependence
89% 88% 88%
Individual Leadership Group Dynamics Combination
Qualitative Learning Outcome Results
What did you learn about yourself on the HSP Expedition?
you have to be emotionally and phiscally strong to be a leader
I learned that I have have a tendancy to judge other people too quickly. I also learned that I can fall
into "status traps" as a leader because I believe that it's sometimes hard to see how group
achievements will benefit me.
I learned my leadership style, and how to use it well, along with dealing with other leadership styles.
How to handle conflicts better.
I learned about my endurance, and how I work with people under stress
The most important thing I learned about myself was how to handle myself and work with a group
during extreme situations and make the best out of a bad situation.
I learned how to work better with a TEAM instead of by myself.
I can take lightly the little things that go wrong, like a little rain during a meeting or a soggy pair of
socks. I also learned that I lead mostly by suggestion.
I learned that I could achieve anything that I sent my mind to!
I know that what I learned about myself on the HSP expedition included everything from my personal
leadership skills to how I respond to other people's leadership skills. Not only did I learn what kind of
leader I am, but I learned what kind of follower I am and how I can recognize my flaws so that I can
work proactively towards the best interest of the group.
That I am fairly calm in adversity.
The HSP Expedition was a largely epiphanic experience. I not only learned about how I work in teams
but also about my place in the world and our environment. I know personal advances may be easy to
come by, but I learned that group advances require strong leadership and compromise. I feel that my
peers and I learned how to contribute that and evolve into an effective and complete team.
I learned that no matter how bad things can get, I can still survive and move on with everything. I
also learned about how to handle certain kinds of people that may or may not support actions
accpeted by the rest of the group.
I've learned that compared to the awesome power of nature, I am nothing. I have been humbled by
How has the HSP Expedition changed your outlook on the year ahead at SMU?
it taught me how to act around strangers. deal with roommate problems.
The HSP expedition has given me the opportunity to meet some of my future faculty and classmates,
and I am very excited for what lies in the future. All of the leaders: Amber, Diana, Tugs, and David
were great leaders, role-models, and people. If they mirror the rest of the faculty at SMU, I know I'm
going to have a great time.
I came out of the expedition with 20 great friends, and it showed me how much leadership we have
here at SMU. It showed me that people from all walks of life can work WELL together.
-I feel a lot more prepared to move in now that I have a group of friends that I have bonded well with
-Makes the transition into SMU more gradual
It really taught me how to handle conflicts and situations that I will be faced with while starting my
college experience. But in addition it helped me realize the true diversity of the students who attend
I'm super excited to continue the friendships that were created over the trip. I am also pleased to
know that there is a HUUUUGE variaty of people at SMU.
I believe that it has taught me that the SMU student body is built of many types of people, but they're
all strong, good people.
Yes, I have become less anxious about the initial transition to school and have learned that I will have
the opportunity to make lifelong friends.
Going into my first year at SMU and after having been on the HSP expedition, I feel like I have a solid
foundation of friends who share the same interests as me. I feel that as a group, the Hilltop Scholars
who went on the expedition will be able to branch out to other students when school starts and kind
of serve as the anchor for the Hilltop Scholars Program.
It has made me more comfortable about the future experience that is college.
The HSP Expedition greatly changed my outlook on the upcoming fall semester at SMU. Meeting some
of my future classmates gave me a good idea of the diversity that I will encounter in the school year
and a new perspective on every individual's strengths and talents. I also realized that there are many
leadership opportunities to come in the following year and the importance of taking them to become
an active member in my school community. Lastly, I realized that moving away from home and
building new friendships will be difficult but you can always talk to your residence hall director or
It has changed my outlook by making me aware of the different kinds of people that will be joining
me at SMU. Instead of having to worry about trying to fit in with everyone, I already know that there
will be people there that I can connect with and fit in with easily.
Making friends is so much easier than I thought it was going to be!
What was your favorite thing about the trip?
making new friends and the bro seshes in my tent
Getting to know knew people, the drive home, and just being away from the don't stop-till-you-drop
pace of everyday life.
The views were AMAZING, and just being secluded from civilization was great, it gives you time to
reflect about things without any big distractions.
The unpredictable adventure, like having to survive through that hail storm.
My favorite part of our trip was that in that short week I met who I think are going to be my best
friends in college. But not just that I met them but that we got to bond over extreme situations that
make our friendship so strong.
I loved getting to know everyone and hiking all over the Taos area. I went home with more
confidence (sp?) in myself than i had before, becase we really did have to be self-sufficiant. I loved it.
I really enjoyed hitting the peak and thinking back to how hard I had to work to get there, but I think
getting to know my community that much earlier was a great thing.
My favorite part of the trip was climbing to the top of Mt. Wheeler! It has inspired me to drop
boundaries and try everything I come across!
Mount Wheeler and Outback Pizza on the last day.
The storm and the hike to Mt. Wheeler.
Reaching the summit and the quiet time I had to think.
My favorite thing was the day-climb to the top of Wheeler. It was something that I knew not
everyone could accomplish, so being able to hike 8 miles in only 7 hours really made the trip.
Watching the group start selling out for each other and becoming a true team.
What, if anything would you change about the trip?
I would have made sure the leaders were a little more familiar with the trail. The night when blue
team got caught in the storm was without a doubt one of the craziest nights of my life, and I loved
every miserable second of it. I never once doubted Tugs's ability to get us through safely and always
felt like he was doing everything possible to get us through safely, but as is the case with lightning--
there is always some unpredictability thrown into the pot. I am glad I went through the experience; it
was the most challenging part of the trip without a doubt. It made the "final day challenge" feel like a
cakewalk. However, when it's all said-and-done the more sensible side of me feels like the fiasco
could have been avoided with more careful planning, and when our safety is at stake, I believe that's
not too much to ask.
I would say try to leave earlier in the mornings to get to the camps earlier, and try to add some
teamwork activities/games. Also have Toogs teach how to make the cinnamon rolls sooner, that was
some good stuff. Continue to eat at Outback pizza in Taos, that was some of the best pizza ever.
The only thing I might would've emphasized about the trip was the necessity to train prior to the start
of the trip.
The leaders should have known the trail better, and the packing list should have been a little more in
depth. (especially when it came to the cold!)
I would weigh the packs and the people after everyone had decided what they would take for the
group, just to make sure that nobody took more weight than is comfortable for their weight class.
Other than possibly altering the length slightly, I wouldn't change a thing! I had such an amazing
I felt like the trip was extremely well organized and well prepared for and I believe that if I changed
anything, I wouldn't have been able to make a better trip.
Emphasize the importance of weather gear, I felt quite unprepared for hail.
I would change the capability of hail storms if I could, but other than that, everything was fine.
Please provide any other comments/general thoughts about the trip...these will be used
to advertise the trip in future years...i.e. your chance to be famous!
If you don't go, you're missing out!!
If you want to experience amazing views, become a leader at SMU before even stepping on campus,
and make great new friends, this is the place to go. Be ready for a challenge, a challenge that I
enjoyed every step of the way. Albert, Amber, David, and Diana all did a great job for the first annual
HSP Expedition, WOOOOOOOT!
This trip is the best opportunity to meet great friends and bond through great learning experiences
and extreme situations. However, while this will be the most fun trip you take be warned this trip is
not for the weak at heart it will push you but is completely worth it!
I loved this trip. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had. Thank you all SO SO much for
this amazing opportunity!!!
This trip made me push myself outside of my comfort zone, emotionally and physically. But that made
the reward all the greater, especially while getting to know and make friends with great students and
You get so much more than you bargain for on this adventure! Dinner theater, amazing leaders, and
amazing friends make this week of pushing personal limits completely worthwhile.
The HSP expedition was a great way for me to discover more about myself and more about the kind
of people that I would be working with in the Hilltop Scholars Program. It's an opportunity and a
challenge that you won't regret.
This trip was difficult, challenging, and morally crushing, yet it was absolutely amazing! When the
pamphlet says that it will be an arduous trek and you need to prepare, there is no kidding involved.
The trip was a very enriching experience, if I had the choice, I would do it 100 times over!
This trip has helped me realize that my first year in college is going to be an exciting time full of
friendship and adversity, and that fighting through challenges with friends is so much better than
being alone on the journey.
What is your opinion about the length of the
trip? Any comments/suggestions
Too long 1 8% the last two days could have been one day
Just right 9 69% It could be longer if we got a chance to shower
Could be longer 3 23% Good length, just right for the area we were traveling in.
Make sure that everyone has better rain gear than just a
TOTAL 13 100% poncho
It seems like it should've been longer because sometimes our
lessons felt rushed but that was really due to the bad weather
we had. So, with good weather it would've been perfectly
If there wasn't that hail storm that blue team had to sleep in
soggy tents through, longer would have been good.
Perhaps a day or two more would help us put our leadership
skills to the true test.
We accomplished everything we needed to accomplish. I
probably wouldn't have gone if it was any longer. It is summer,
Had it not been for unforeseen circumstances (hail, people
getting sick, etc.), we would have been able to do much more
in the time that we had. Regardless, we were still able to
accomplish a lot. If it were any shorter, any unforeseen
circumstances might have significantly limited what we were
able to do in the trip
What is your opinion of the price of the trip? Any comments/suggestions
Too much 1 8% It was the best value I have ever had on a expedition.
For the experience and all the equipment provided it was
Good value 9 75% perfect!
Would pay more 2 17% I was surprised when I saw how affordable the trip was!
TOTAL 12 100%
How effective were the trip leaders? Any comments/suggestions
I didn't learn anything from them 0 0% Blue team!!!
They were okay…I learned al ittle from
them 0 0% Good leadership guys, Grade A performance!
They were great...I learned so much
from them 13 100% I learns very very good
TOTAL 13 100% Hahaha, dooey dooey.
I feel like the trip leaders were effective in that I know that I
was enlightened in some way by each of them.
I learned a lot as far as hiking goes but the leadership lectures
were just okay.
Every leader had different knowledge to share with us and the
combination of them provided a perfect outdoor and leadership
Amber and Albert in the house!
How did you feel about the level of challenge
for the trip? Any comments/suggestions
it could have been more challenging for me but for the group it
Didn't challenge me at all 0 0% was pretty challenging.
Challenged me a little I went on this trip instead of climbing Mt. Rainier with my dad.
I can't expect everyone to enjoy climbing as much as I do, but
5 38% I would have liked to be challenged more.
If I had not been to Philmont a few months before it would
A lot of challenge, but do-able 8 62% have been a tough, but I think do-able challenge
It would have been "it challenged me a little" if there wasn't
Way too much challenge 0 0% that second day with the hail storm
TOTAL 13 100% Silly storm!
It was challenging a few times from a physical standpoint but
mainly the challenge was being thrust into difficult situations
and working with kids we had just met but that is exactly what
joined us together.
Would you be interested in leading the trip in
Yes 9 69%
No 1 8%
Maybe 3 23%
TOTAL 13 100%