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Colby clubs kick off the year after a two-week delay

Nearly a month after students returned to Mayflower Hill, clubs have started to meet once again. Along with the challenges of recruiting new members and organizing events, clubs must also comply with the College’s COVID-19 guidelines and regulations.

In an email to The Colby Echo, Cooper Bussberg `21, co-president of the Colby Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (COFGA), described his club’s experience during the first few weeks of school.

“We have had two club events and have received a lot of participation. We were able to deliver at least 200 pounds of produce to the dining hall in Bob’s as well as the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter in Waterville,” Bussberg said.

Because COFGA is based outdoors, it has had a relatively easier time adjusting than indoor clubs have had.

“One thing we have had to do is to limit the number of people who come to the garden at a time and to distribute the tasks of the day evenly,” Bussberg explained.“In the past we would generally have the whole group focus on one task, say picking beans,  at the same time. However, in order to maximize social distancing, we will have some people working in one plot while others work in a separate plot.”

At this moment, COFGA cannot hold club dinners. During these events in the past, they have harvested produce from the garden and enjoyed a meal together.

“This, unfortunately, is simply not feasible and would certainly not meet Colby’s COVID-19 regulations. This is a shame because this is one of our most cherished events so that the club can directly taste the fruits of their labor,” Bussberg wrote.

Under the supervision of Dining Services, two or three students typically tend to Colby’s garden over the summer, however, they were not permitted on campus this year. This presented COFGA with a unique set of challenges.

“It was a bit of a challenge initially to go to the garden without any idea of the overall season schedule, the needs of the garden, and also the needs of the dining hall, Bussberg said.“However, we have entered a pretty regular schedule of harvesting and delivering to the dining hall which has worked well for everyone so far.”

Bussberg noted that despite the absence of student interns, the dining hall staff took excellent care of the garden, allowing it to prosper this fall.

“They also built a new greenhouse which is currently being used to dry herbs and will potentially be used in the future to grow seedlings,” Bussberg said.

Once the harvest season concludes in the next month, COFGA will work on preparing the garden for winter and planning for next spring. The transition from outdoor harvesting to Zoom meetings and virtual workshops worries Bussberg, but he remains optimistic.

“Like most other clubs, we are trying to make the most of the situation and provide an enriching experience for the community no matter the circumstances,” Bussberg said.

Like Bussberg, Jack Sine `22, co-president of the Colby Fly Fishing Club, has found complying with the COVID-19 regulations manageable. With the normal social distancing and mask policies, his club does not face many additional restrictions. The Colby Fly Fishing Club has already gone on two fishing trips, both having received a good turnout.

“We’re on the water, so you don’t have to be too close to anyone else. You can spread out,” Sine said.

His club’s events have continued without many issues, but Sine has found communicating with members challenging. Instead of meeting in person, they have had to rely on email and Zoom.

“We haven’t been able to go out and talk about fishing,” Sine noted.

Nevertheless, Sine has been successful in recruiting new members. He believes that the College has effectively promoted club activity while simultaneously encouraging safe COVID-19 practices.

During the club fair a few weeks ago, the club received interest from forty-five new members. Sine thinks that the COVID-19 regulations have actually benefited participation in the Colby Fly Fishing Club.

“Way more people are outside now. I think this whole thing has brought people back in touch with nature,” Sine said.

Sine and his co-presidents intend to hold fishing trips most weekends for the foreseeable future. They are also planning a casting clinic with the Colby Outing Club.

Alex Glowacky `21 is the president of Hearthside, a group that meets weekly for dinner through the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. She believes that the community dinners have gotten off to a great start.

“It’s so nice to be back together with returning community members and to get to know the new first years who’ve joined,” Glowacky said.

The College’s COVID-19 guidelines have generally not been an issue for Hearthside. Glowacky believes that despite the current situation, Hearthside has functioned well.

“A big part of Hearthside is sharing dinner together, which we fortunately are still able to do but we are keen to make sure everything is individually wrapped and such,” Glowacky said. “The biggest change that I feel is not having singing as a part of the evening- Hearthside usually closes our time by singing a song together, but we’ve settled for a different, safer option for closing given what we know about projecting being a big risk.”

Like Sine, Glowacky welcomes the opportunity to get outside more.

“I’m really happy we’re utilizing Lormier Lawn more!” Glowacky said. “It is a beautiful space, and for the purposes of our community in particular it’s nice to have the Chapel as a backdrop.”

For the rest of the semester, Hearthside plans to hold weekly meetings on Sundays. Glowacky is looking forward to more community dinners and conversations.

“I’d love it if we could connect with other groups within ORSL [the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life] once it is safe to do so, which of course is at a later point in time. For now, I’m just glad to have the ability to be together.”

~ Matt Rocha ‘23

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