Elizabeth Pudder, service coordinator for the Center for Service and Learning, and Steve Crosby, outdoor education director, are in charge of the trips, with Pudder overseeing 39 front country and urban trips, and Crosby overseeing 21 backcountry trips. All of the NSO trips are led by CC students, with at least two leaders per trip (and more than 100 students on the wait list to lead a trip).
Among the 39 expeditions Pudder oversees are trips to the Koshare Indian Museum in La Junta, St. Elizabeth’s Shelter in Santa Fe, Mission Wolf in Westcliffe, Mesa Winds Farm in Hotchkiss, and a charter school in Taos, N.M.
Crosby’s backcountry trips go to the Collegiate Peaks, Sangre de Cristo, Holy Cross, and Uncompahgre wilderness areas, all in Colorado.
“Most of the trips, whether they are urban, front country, or backcountry, are three to six hours away,” Pudder says. “We want the new students to experience the region.”
The orientation helps new students get to know a small group of people very well outside of the residence hall and classroom, Pudder says. The service component is also a great group- and team-building activity, and underscores CC’s strong service ethic. The time away from campus also allows the new students an opportunity to get to know and ask questions of the group leaders, all of whom are upperclassmen.
The logistics of the undertaking are massive. All the necessary gear must be checked out to be sure it is in working order. Gear is then assigned to NSO excursions, and is lined up in Slocum Commons in order of trip departure. Food for the 597 NSO participants and the 122 student leaders is organized by trip and stored in Bemis Hall. Buses and vans and trip routes must be arranged, with trips heading to the same region sharing a bus to help reduce CC’s carbon footprint.
This is the eighth year that Colorado College is undertaking the massive effort. The Priddy Experience began in 2003 as the result of a $7.9 million grant to CC from the Robert & Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust the previous year. Funds from the grant, one of the largest in CC’s history, were spread across various campus programs, with $125,000 being designated for NSO trips.