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Sophomores leave campus for COOT alternative Outdoor 24

Outdoor 24 was an overnight trip designed to give sophomores the Colby Outdoor Orientation Trips (COOT) experience they missed last year.  However, only about half the class attended the program, to which attendance was strongly encouraged.

Sophomores had mixed responses to finding out about Outdoor 24, including confusion. Though it was not mandatory, many students believed it to be.

“I was excited, because it was kind of marketed as a replacement for COOT … but then with Outdoor 24, it was not a replacement COOT and I felt extremely misled.” K. Zhang `24 said. “And then, it was required and I felt even more misled.”

 Despite her initial excitement, she did not attend the trip. Zhang says she would have gone had the trip been before classes started, but once classes had begun she did not have time between homework and her work as a research assistant.

She offered advice to those who organized the trip.

“Just be a little forthright in what you see happen … Outdoor 24 was marketed … to replace COOT and all the upperclassmen and even the Freshmen these days, are like COOT was the best experience of my life!” Zhang said. “Just tell us it’s like a separate experience that they hope will bring our community closer together.”

Benson Yam `24, an athlete on the Men’s Crew Team, explained that he did not go because of his sports practice. He admitted that although some on his team did skip practice for the trip, he decided that missing practice was not worth it, especially when it would take a day and a half away from his academics. He mentioned that COOT takes place before classes begin for a reason, and that it is not just to meet other first-years before the upperclassmen arrive.

 “It’s not just me. Everyone knows that a day is like a year in the academic world,” Yam said.  “A lot can happen in a day … There was a lot of work I could be doing instead of Outdoor 24.”

Another sophomore who preferred to remain anonymous was initially excited for the program. However, this sophomore emailed the Outdoor 24 team to cancel due to a conflicting event, and received an email that “… told me, very indirectly, that I couldn’t cancel. They said only athletes are not going.”

Unfortunately, this sophomore had to choose between following the apparent rules and a prior commitment. The student decided to attend despite knowing that many people would not be going on the trip.

“I ended up not regretting the trip,” they said. “I went to Camp Kieve and it was pretty fun … just I wish they had been more clear”

Sophomore Jackie Legutko always intended to attend Outdoor 24. She was excited because the Class of 2024 did not get a COOT trip. Finding out it was mandatory did not affect her expectations or decision to participate in the trip.

However, she said, “I didn’t know what that meant, for it to be required, because I knew people weren’t gonna go.”

“I think it was actually better that less people went, because … there was a lot more space in the cabins and … the size of the [activity] groups were really nice … Only 75 people went to [Camp Wavus] and I think there were supposed to be two hundred or something.”

When asked about the highlights of the trip, Legutko noted classic games and activites.

“Oh my gosh, it was so fun … the biggest highlight was meeting new people, but also kayaking, doing the ropes courses,” Legutko said. “The food was good, and the skies were really clear at night so we could see all the stars.”

“It was also short, so it was kind of just over and done with, so you didn’t have to worry about it being too long and not being able to get work done,” she added.

There were logistical and communication errors, such as a bus boarding time of 8 a.m., the same time the dining halls open on the weekends, but not telling students to bring any food, and not providing any food until lunch.

There were no lists of people who attended to ensure that nobody was left behind when students returned to campus, something the Outdoor 24 leaders were frustrated with.

Despite these flaws, the general feeling is that those who attended Outdoor 24 do not regret their decision, but neither do those who opted to remain on campus.

~ Isabelle Harrison Bregman ‘24

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