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 2015 Dates will be posted in December.  

Sample itinerary for the 7-day program:

(Note: The schedule and activities will change depending on the session. This is an itinerary from Service Odyssey 2013.)

  • Day 1: Check-in, ice breakers, group bonding and reflection
  • Day 2: Day of service assisting with a children's camp, dinner with current Davidson students, and group reflection
  • Day 3: Morning of service preparing and serving lunch at a homeless shelter, afternoon of service doing home construction, outing to Summit Coffee, and group reflection
  • Day 4: Morning of service interacting with homeless neighbors at a transitional living center, afternoon of service working on a community garden, documentary screening, 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, group games and reflection
  • Day 6: Morning of service at a food bank, 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 and 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 2013 Service Odyssey participants:
"I learned how important service is to me. I didn't realize I was so passionate about it. I also learned how to connect with others and how interesting talking to other volunteers and the people we serve is. Service Odyssey sparked a fire for community service in me."
"I learned that it's okay to be yourself. Right from the beginning, I felt very welcomed. I also learned to just be very open and welcoming to everyone."
"I could see how the work we did at each location served a specific need of the community and how then through our service we could help make the community stronger."
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 Christa Leimbach at 704-894-3090 with any questions about your travel.
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, please call the Center for Civic Engagement cell phone at 704-408-5630, and leave a voice message with 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. In the evening, families can call the Center for Civic Engagement cell phone, 704-408-5630.
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 can gain access to drop off belongings, but you will not have access to your room during your Odyssey session. Call the 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.