September 30, 2022 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Kristen Richards | Photo by Sam Nystrom Costales

It’s the Sunday night before Block 2, and on the grass outside Worner, there are a group of students laying against backpacking bags and eating peanut butter straight out of the jar. It is the hours that plague the transition between Block Break and first week, with laundry machines full and Canvas pages published. It is when the cars are locked with the tents still in the trunk.

The next morning, we are asked, over and over again, “what did you do during Block Break?” The answer is expected. I went to _____ (place) and did ________ (sport or outdoor activity). Block Break memories are shared, many and most of them involve hiking, camping, climbing, or, in the winter, skiing. It is a way for the community to connect; these moments of telling stories and sharing anecdotes from trips to the Sand Dunes, Zion, or the Grand Canyon.

It is fascinating to both listen to and participate in, this sense that we are all, essentially, doing the same thing, just in different ways. And that these things that some CC students choose to do in their free time (i.e. Block Break) are sometimes activities involving some aspect of the outdoors.

Life on the Block Plan can seem as though there is a distinct “block” and “Block Break” with no room in between. The transition from one to the other is seamless, as if you are wearing hiking boots to your fourth Wednesday exam or walking straight from Ahlberg Gear House to your first class, Monday morning. But what aspects of our identity are we leaving behind on Block Break and taking back with us to class? Is this separation of activities – outdoors to indoors – detrimental to the way we view ourselves and others?

Colorado College even advertises this on the front of their website, editing out the part where we come back to campus, exhausted and exhilarated from the outdoors, and not ready to sit in class the next morning. What if we need a Block Break from our Block Break?

Perhaps there can be a middle ground, where the Block Break is not the high, and the block is not the low. A place where returning to campus from a camping trip is not a dampening of mood, but an excitement for something new. I believe that the outdoors — where so many CC students spend their Block Break — is essential to this transition.

There has to be a place of centering, of release, of fun. Of course, that can all be found within the block itself, but having the agency and authority to plan your own trip and make your own fun cannot be replaced. In this, there is the opportunity to join an Outdoor Education trip and go somewhere new, or travel a short distance to your favorite spot away from the city (as much as Colorado Springs can be considered a “city”) to relax.

Nature can mean different things to different people. So again, the question, “what should I do during Block Break?” is a question of how to balance your need to rest with your need to explore. Luckily, there are opportunities seemingly everywhere at CC for ways to adventure around, however far or close you would like to go.

It can, however, become a question of “how far can you go,” both in the sense of exploring outside of the classroom and finding the most extreme, crazy adventure to embark on for the four and a half days. Maybe what we need to bridge the gap between the different types of adventurous people can be the different ways of relaxation and rejuvenation. Marvel at the stories of climbing in Moab, but don’t forget to leave space for those who prefer a quiet Block Break on campus or in a nearby town.

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