Active Life Editor
Participants this past block break described their Winter-start Outdoor Orientation Trips (WOOTs) as “incredible,” “amazing,” and “immensely satisfying.”
This year, one trip adventured to Islands in the Sky, Utah, while another went to Arches National Park to focus on photography in addition to hiking and camping.
“Until recent years, the WOOT trips happened because one, sometimes two, students took it upon themselves to organize them,” said Outdoor Education Specialist Neal Smeltzer. ”There was no structure in place, and nowhere near the support that [Freshman Outdoor Orientation Trips] receive each year.”
WOOTs are a way in which CC Outdoor Education continues to provide opportunities for winter-start students to explore the outdoors after their WSO experiences.
“I’m psyched to see that [the trips] have become an annual tradition!” Smeltzer said.
The Arches group camped on Pothash Road and hiked to Corona Arch (through the Devil’s Garden Loop) and did an early wake-up to hike to Delicate Arch to watch the sunrise. They explored the town of Moab and Moonflower Canyon, where they found a secluded pond.
We couldn’t have asked for better weather,” said sophomore Kenyon Fatt, who co-lead the Arches trip. “Because it is still February, the park was quite empty, which was very nice.”
The Arches trip was a combination of first-year winter starts, transfer students, former winter starts, and non-winter starts. Those new to CC were able to get to know other students in a comfortable outdoor setting.
“The trip helped the actual winter starts meet other students and expand their friend groups, rather than spending the time with other winter starts they already know,” Fatt said.
“I think the mix was really beneficial because it can be hard to meet people outside the winter start community,” agreed sophomore transfer student Anita Lombri.
The trip to Islands in the Sky contained only first-year winter starts, which also had its positives.
“[The winter start only idea] makes [the trip] less intimidating, since it’s a familiar group of people,” said sophomore and 2013 winter-start Jessica DiFoggio.
“I think it is definitely important to have these trips,” said first-year winter start Abby Philbrick. “They are an affordable way for kids who [may not] know a thing about how to get themselves outdoors… to gain some experience in a low-key and really fun setting.”
“[The trips] allow winter starts to jump right into taking advantage of block breaks,” said DiFoggio.
The fact that they come at no cost is also a selling point.
“I want to make sure I grasp at every opportunity,” said first-year winter start Kayleigh Baylis. “The fact that it is free is a huge help, as I can experience everything I want to do and still keep to my budget!”
These trips are undoubtedly a wonderful way to give winter start students the same welcome and introduction to CC’s outdoor community and opportunities that regular-start students experience with FOOT trips.
Even those who have taken trips years ago credit the WOOTs with shaping their path at CC.
“My WOOT trip was my first block break experience, and I quickly gained appreciation for the block structure and the possibilities for block break,” said sophomore Maggie Dillon, who did a WOOT trip last year, when she began as a winter-start. “My WOOT trip completely affected my future at CC.“