CC Director of Campus Activities and Student Orientation Amy Hill was featured in a University Business story in May titled “Colorado College Keeps Traditions Alive, Even Through a Pandemic.” The story details how Hill and Colorado College got creative in boosting morale and participation on campus, and notes that instead of shutting down or moving all activities online, CC made event planning and outreach a priority. “What might have seemed impossible last March proved to be possible, primarily because campus leaders kept such a positive mindset,” notes the article.

Students participate in Colorado College’s traditional champagne shower, with a few COVID-19 modifications. The celebration, held at the Earle Flagpole on campus, required students to make a “time slot” reservation in advance, attend in small groups or pods, and be masked. Photo by Gray Warrior/Colorado College

Hill and CC leadership looked for ways to continue traditions such as Llamapalooza, Dance Workshop, and the end-of-year champagne shower. “We tried not to just cancel everything because we wanted to honor the student experience as much as possible and mark those traditions or milestones as best we could,” says Hill. “We wanted to tell our students, this is what you can do instead of saying, no, you can’t do that. I deeply empathize with students who feel they’ve been robbed of something in terms of building community and connecting with friends. We have tried to get people to change their frame of reference from the deficit mentality to what opportunities have come out of this.”

Members of Colorado College’s Indigenous community, including Monique Gaspar ’21 (Maya Q’anjob’al), gather for an end-of-the-year gift-giving celebration. Students, faculty, and elders exchange gifts and cultural items, including this blanket. Photo by Josh Birndorf ’20

And with COVID-dictated modifications, many events continued for the more than 800 students who were on campus during the Spring Semester. Preregistration and RSVPs were required for activities, with students having to agree to safety guidelines. Larger events were scaled back or done in shifts or on multiple days.

The college rented out a local theatre for movie premieres, took over a mini-golf course for students to play for a few hours, and had a food truck come to campus. There were DIY kits themed for national causes, Black History Month, and Women’s History Month, and a 20-foot outdoor screen and projector to hold more outdoor screenings.

Procedures for large events evolved over the year, Hill says. “Our SOCC [Sounds of CC] Battle of the Bands normally would have 10 student groups competing against each other over two nights. That was difficult to plan during COVID because of shared equipment and space airflow. We found two student groups that were willing to play. We worked with our spoken word group, SpeakEasy, and our student comedy group, Sun Butter, and we came up with a first set and second set.” Those were held on Armstrong Hall’s outer walkway, where two different stages were set up so the equipment could easily be swapped out after sets and to allow for cleaning time between performances.

Students play with giant wooden blocks outdoors during the annual Llamapalooza music festival. In addition to music, the Campus Activities-sponsored event included free food and a variety of games and other activities. Photo by John Le ’24

“We started to develop other events based off that model, introducing yard games like cornhole and giant Jenga,” Hill says.

Dance Workshop, which is open to all students who want to dance and typically has more than 300 participants, saw major changes this year. “With our campus guidelines, anything over 10 people needed to be supervised,” Hill says. The Dance Workshop group “just knocked it out of the park. They got so creative, with small groups of 10 dancing outside in parks and filming it with drones, and then basically making music videos of their work. In the spring, we did an outdoor screening that had 100 people come through to watch.

“It’s been rewarding to ditch the old models and come up with what’s new, and see what works and what doesn’t, and what we can take away from it,” Hill says. “We could not have pulled these events off without the partnership of our student event planners or the support of the unsung heroes — our campus events service providers in AV, facilities, campus safety, grounds, and food service who were eager to find ways to make the impossible possible in COVID-safer ways to serve our students.”