September 2, 2022 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Olivia Hahnemann-Gilbert | Photo by Michael Braithwaite

Disclaimer: The writer of this piece worked for Outdoor Education this summer and was involved in the planning process for NSO.

As summer rolled around and Colorado College students dispersed to various parts of the globe, four noble students stayed back to begin the planning process for one of CC’s largest events: New Student Orientation.

That’s right. Our precious Priddy trips were left in the hands of mere college students; Gwen Rider ’24, Spencer Torres ’24, Koray Gates ’25, and myself began our journeys as New Student Orientation interns with CC’s Outdoor Education in June. 

Guided by our courageous leaders, NSO Coordinator Arity Sherwood and Associate Director of Outdoor Education Kelsey Brackley, we began the summer naive rookies, with no idea of what would be in store for us.

The majority of the summer was smooth, fun, and relaxed. Working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day gave us (the interns) enough time to steadily make progress in coordinating NSO, while also finding time to have fun and get outdoors.

We enjoyed getting to know each other through various activities, such as embarking on a backpacking trip, going paddle boarding, watching Muppet videos, and even dressing up in flair and making a serious and professional informational video.

When asked about their favorite parts of the summer internship, Torres brought up a paddle boarding trip which the interns led for a CC Bridge Scholars class.

“The paddle boarding trip we led for Bridge was really fun because that was the first time we were planning something on a large scale and all of our hard work led to a lot of fun,” Torres said.

Little did we know, the light-hearted, relaxed part of the summer would soon come to an end.

With August came crunch time; we were suddenly faced with the reality that our fearless NSO leaders and beloved new students would soon be arriving.

Upon this realization, the Outdoor Ed boardroom took on a more ominous aura. We spent hours printing (a sincere public apology to the trees of the world), emailing, and organizing. We were confronted with several thoughts: what if we missed an important detail? What would happen if all the leaders were suddenly infected with COVID-19? And worst of all, what if we didn’t have enough string to finish tying all the Priddy bracelets in time?

“It was definitely really stressful,” said Torres. “When I thought about the scale of how many students were really relying on us – like if we didn’t do it, it wasn’t gonna get done – made it really high pressure.”

This was a more stressful time in the lives of the NSO interns; however, I would argue that the frantic weeks leading up to NSO were filled with the most bonding moments.

“I feel like our team worked really well together,” said Gates. “Even when it was stressful, we could delegate tasks and work together to get everything sorted.”

Other interns had similar things to say about the team-building aspect of planning NSO.

“What kept me grounded was the team,” said Torres. “We’d been working together all summer and I knew that all of us were willing to put in the extra work. I knew it was all going to work out because all of us were here to make NSO successful.”

Then, it happened. The big bang, the real deal hoedown throwdown, the very thing around which our summers had revolved: NSO had arrived.

For this year’s NSO, more flexible COVID-19 guidelines allowed for Priddy trips to be off-campus for the first time since 2019. New students packed their bags and headed to various parts of Colorado to embark on a three-day trip with their groups, during which they engaged in community service projects and local explorations.

For most of us interns, this was our first experience in an event planning-oriented job. Thus, it was a surreal experience to watch our months of planning come to fruition. We watched the leaders which we had spent so long pairing come together for the first time, and we witnessed students engaging in service projects and staying in the lodging we had organized. We got to see live and tangible evidence of our summer-long efforts, which was pretty darn cool.

When asked about how their experience was witnessing NSO, the interns had similar things to say.

“I feel like it was really rewarding but also challenging at the same time,” said Gates. “But it went well, and it was cool to see all the trippees become friends and hang out together after.”

“It was kind of a blur. It was stressful but everyone being safe and happy was such a relief,” said Torres. “Every day that passed, even though there would be more to do and more last-minute changes, it felt so good whenever anything went successfully. By the end of NSO, I felt like it was all worth it.”

Being an NSO intern with Outdoor Education was, above all, a learning experience. We learned important work and life skills, which we will carry with us as we take on new jobs in the future.

“We got both experience in long-term planning… and also a lot of fast-paced, real-time experience dealing with things as they happen,” said Torres.

We also got to be part of a (hopefully) exciting and welcoming space for new students coming into CC. Throughout the roller coaster of this summer position, my favorite part was getting to work and become friends with some lovely people.

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