September 3, 2021 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Tia Vierling | Photo by Oliver Kraft

New Student Orientation (NSO) and the Priddy trips that go along with it have long been a way for Colorado College students to engage with the broader community – and with each other – as they transition into the CC experience. Like many other campus experiences, however, COVID-19 took NSO by storm in the 2020-21 school year. 

In previous years, students would venture out into Colorado and New Mexico to participate in service trips from trail building to shelter painting. In the fall of 2020, new students instead clicked a button and opened up their Priddy Experiences on Zoom. This August, the Priddy Experience returned for an on-campus hybrid experience. Leaders led day trips to local hiking spots, the Olympic Museum, and service sites like Monument Creek. 

As is standard, leaders were tasked with introducing first years to all that CC has to offer. This posed difficulties for leaders who spent the majority of their own Priddy Experience and academic year during 2020-21 online. Now that this year’s Priddy Experiences have come to a close, two sophomore NSO leaders reflect on their experience having led in-person Priddy trips without ever having gone on them themselves.

The situation by its very nature presents new challenges. Eila Sullivan ’24 said, “the hardest part about leading NSO as a sophomore this year has been my lack of knowledge about CC culture, resources, and traditions.” 

Sullivan never had a chance to live on campus during her first year of college; for first semester, she was fully out of state, and though she lived in Colorado Springs off-campus for her second, she missed out on “a lot of things… most sophomores would know.”

Sam Treat ’24, another sophomore NSO leader, also noted challenges with relating his experiences to first-years, especially academic areas he didn’t feel like he could speak to. While Treat emphasized that he felt he had “a grasp on the social scene and the clubs and activities CC has to offer” after his last year engaging through virtual settings, he also noted that he had “no experience to pull from” when it came to in-person classes.

A poor NSO experience in one year could easily have led to a lackluster NSO the next. Both Sullivan and Treat noted that their virtual experiences lacked the personal connection tantamount for NSO success: Treat didn’t make “any real lasting connections,” and Sullivan was unable to “genuinely connect with people on Zoom” in her group. But Sullivan and Treat also both emphasized that their virtual Priddy Experiences created unique opportunities for them to bond with and strengthen their commitments to their own trippees. 

Treat pointed out that his Zoom experience shaped his own leadership approach towards his trippees – he wanted to provide them with a “positive experience” and “tangible results.” 

Sullivan noted an even more interesting result stemming from her Zoom experience. “On the bright side,” she explained, “I think my lack of a full freshman year helped me relate more to the incoming students … we were learning stuff at the same time, which helped me bond with my trippees.” In Sullivan’s case, she was able to leverage her lack of a traditional Priddy Experience to build rapport as she learned alongside her trippees.

Regardless of the unique challenges presented to sophomore NSO leaders, Sullivan and Treat do agree wholeheartedly on one thing: the class of 2025 brought energy and enthusiasm to their NSO experiences. Treat’s group gave their all to the NSO Escape Room, Sullivan’s bonded through fun community meetings, and both leaders described their work with their co-leaders and new students during NSO with the same telling word: “amazing.” 

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