On August 18 th at 6 a.m., a bus full of twenty-four students, six student leaders, and two faculty members departed to the nation’s capital for four days of intense bonding,

Prior to the start of school, all first- years (aside from international stu- dents) have the opportunity to attend one of five pre-orientation trips.

One of these programs is Denison Service Orientation (DSO), which is an “intense direct-service experience designed to help incoming students adjust to college, build strong friend- ships, and realize the possibilities available to them at Denison.”

The thirty-two excursionists stay in a hostel located in the basement of a Dupont Circle church,

Where they spend their leisure time and make all their meals. First year Zoe Loitz praised it as a “large quiet space for just our group.”

The four days consist of three days of service and a free day, when stu- dents explore DC’s historical and recreational attractions. Many stu- dents agree that some of their most cherished memories come from the free day, which was conveniently on the day of the solar eclipse this year. Students visit museums, shop at thrift stores, tour the free zoo, and walk the streets of DC.

Although relaxing in DC is enjoyable, DSOers agree that they receive an unmatched sense of fulfillment from the service they provide.

The service varies from preparing lasagnas to food trucks, all the way to weed-whacking and lawnmowing for the elderly.

Service begins at the brink of dawn every morning, and sometimes even earlier. One of the service destinations, SOME (So Others Might Eat), is infamous for its 4:20 a.m. wakeup time. Despite the early wakeup time SOME is a DSO favorite; first year Spencer Sampson enjoys the direct interaction with the people he is serving.

Another favorite of many DSOers is Martha’s Table, an organization which works to “support stronger children, stronger families, and stronger communities by increasing access to quality education programs, healthy food, and family supports.”

The night before service, the student leaders, led by Haley Fiegel, split up the group into three to four teams, each team volunteering at a different site.

The early mornings combined with strenuous, high-energy service allows students to form meaningful friendships, and important connections to upperclassmen and faculty members.