Service Odyssey

The summer Service Odyssey is a student-led, intensive community service experience. The program provides service opportunities in Davidson and the Greater Charlotte area so you can continue to work with partner organizations throughout your college career. Past partners include the Men's Shelter of Charlotte, Sow Much Good, and Habitat for Humanity. The range of social issues varies from homelessness, education, health, and the environment. In addition to the service, students will have opportunities to reflect on their experience in nightly reflections and explore Lake Norman and Charlotte through fun group outings. In keeping with the spirit of the program, participants will live together in the communities they serve at three local churches. This an off-campus experience and participants will have safe and secure, but simple living conditions. 

Service Odyssey 2016 Dates

  • Session I: Sun., July 10 - Sat., July 16 - $200
  • Session II: Sun., July 24 - Sat., July 30 - $200
  • Session III: Wed., August 10 - Wed., August 17 - $200
  • Session III International / STRIDE: Wed., August 10 - Sun., August 14 - $150 (Available only to students participating in STRIDE or International Orientation)

Sample Itinerary for the Seven-Day program

(Note: The schedule and activities will change depending on the session. This is an itinerary from Service Odyssey 2015.)

  • Day 1: Check-in, ice breakers, group bonding, and reflection
  • Day 2: Day of service preparing and serving lunch at a soup kitchen, tour of a local nonprofit site, dinner with current Davidson students, and group reflection
  • Day 3: Morning of service outside with a local environmental agency, afternoon of service sorting donations at a food bank, outing to a local farmer's market, and group reflection
  • Day 4: Morning of service providing animal rehabilitation services, afternoon spent engaging in an interactive educational simulation, and group reflection 
  • Day 5: Morning of service with a youth development organization, afternoon of service assisting with beautification project at a women's empowerment organization, outing to a museum, picnic dinner and reflection
  • Day 6: Morning of service interacting with and mentoring youth, afternoon of service sorting donated goods at an emergency assistance organization, dinner hosted by a Davidson faculty or staff member, and group reflection
  • Day 7: Debrief and farewell

Registration & Forms

The Service Odyssey is open to all incoming first-year students at Davidson College, including transfers. It is a popular program with limited space, so we encourage you to register early.

Frequently Asked Questions

Many of you have the same questions about registering for Service Odyssey and what to expect during the session. We have attempted to answer as many of those questions as we can anticipate.

1. What do past participants have to say about their Service Odyssey experience?
The following are a few quotes from 2015 Service Odyssey participants:

"Service Odyssey has been one of the best experiences I've had at Davidson! The week helped me get to know the Davidson community and open my eyes to the many different ways I could serve in the area. The program also allowed me to build great friendships with other incoming students - I would recommend Service Odyssey to anyone and everyone!"<

"I am most thankful for the lasting friendships I made during my Service Odyssey experience. These friends were there for me during the first weeks of school, and are still there for me to this day."

"Being a part of Service Odyssey was one of the greatest summer experiences I've ever had. Through Service Odyssey I met some great new friends, but more importantly, I learned how impactful service is to Davidson College and its students. Partnering with several organizations around Lake Norman and Charlotte led me to see that the needs in our communities are very personal. It was a summer I'll never forget, and I wouldn't have wanted to spent it any other way."

"I would recommend Service Odyssey to anyone who wants to meet a group of incredibly kind and caring individuals while helping better their new community. I never expected I would build such strong relationships with others through preparing and serving food at a local soup kitchen, playing kickball with youth, and installing a new roof on a home. But that's the power of bringing together a number of excited people with a desire to serve their community. That's the true essence of Service Odyssey."
2. Will I be asked to do anything with which I am not comfortable?

Part of the value of the Service Odyssey hinges on the presence of reasonable risks: The emotional risks of meeting new challenges and making new friends, and the physical risks involved in some service work. These risks cannot be completely eliminated, but they can be minimized by your active involvement in monitoring your safety and the safety of the group. Your service site managers and trip leaders will give you appropriate training and instruction in each activity. Your role, if you choose to participate, is to utilize the training correctly and to follow instructions carefully. We intend to have a fun, safe, meaningful week, and your help is necessary to make this possible.
3. When should I plan to arrive and depart from campus?
Make plans to arrive in Davidson no earlier than the morning of your session. Check-in will begin at 11 a.m. and the last until 1 p.m., and lunch will be the first meal provided. Your program will end at noon on the last day of your session. If someone is picking you up on campus, arrange to meet him or her at noon. If you are using another mode of transportation (airplane/train/bus), please plan an early-afternoon departure.  
4. What should I do if I have questions about my travel plans?
Before you make your final reservations, please contact Kyle Goodfellow with any questions about your travel at or 704-894-2460.
5. If I arrive by plane, train, or bus, how will I get to campus?
We provide a free shuttle from the Charlotte airport, train station, or bus station. Be sure to complete your travel plans on the participant survey. We schedule shuttles to pick up multiple students in one trip, so bring a book since you may spend an hour or more at the terminal. A week before your session starts, a staff member from Davidson will be in touch with you regarding your pick-up time.   If you are arriving by plane, please wait by the information desk on the baggage claim level of the airport. If you are arriving by bus or train, wait for us in the main lobby of the station. If you find that your plane/bus /train is delayed, you will be given a contact number the week before your session, please call and share the details of your situation.
6. If I drive, where should I park?
If you will be leaving a vehicle on campus for the duration of Service Odyssey, please park it in the Baker Sports Complex parking lot. Please include the car make and model and license tag information on your participant survey.
7. What if my family needs to reach me?
Family members should call the Center for Civic Engagement at 704-894-2298 during the day and we will provide you with an evening number upon confirmation of your participation in the program.
8. If I participate in the third session, can I move in early?

Residence halls will not open until the Wednesday evening you return to campus.  You are able to store items in the Campus Warehouse while on Service Odyssey, but you will not have access to your room during your session. Call the Residence Life Office at 704-894-2188 for answers to residence hall questions.
9. What if I need to cancel?

If you cancel three weeks prior to the start of your session you will receive a full refund. We will issue a 50 percent refund for cancellations made fewer than three weeks prior to the start of your session, and no refunds are given for cancellations made less than one week prior to the start of your session.
10. How do I apply for financial aid?

If you are interested in receiving aid for Service Odyssey and you have already qualified for aid from Davidson, please indicate this in the appropriate area on the registration form and submit an initial deposit of $100. You will be notified of the amount of your award in your confirmation receipt, at which time the balance will then be due.