Adapted Priddy Experience Allows Incoming Students to Connect to Colorado Springs

After more than a year-and-a-half of changes to class structure, teaching, and campus living, pivoting during the pandemic is not new for Colorado College. This past fall’s New Student Orientation and Priddy Experience were no different.

NSO is designed to introduce first-year students to all aspects of campus life — inside and outside the classroom. This academic year, CC was especially excited to bring students back to campus for an in-person experience.

The NSO schedule gives new students a taste of the rhythm of the Block Plan. Required sessions are held each morning — in 2021-22 a combination of in-person and Zoom sessions. The rest of the day is open for students to connect to campus resources and peers, relax in their rooms, or walk around campus. Evenings are full of social activities, which this year included everything from trivia in Benji’s to a silent disco at the Hybl Community Center.

The final few days of NSO culminate in the Priddy Experience, coordinated through CC’s Outdoor Education program. In years past, students traveled to a variety of sites throughout Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Southwest. However, due to the continued impacts and uncertainties surrounding the pandemic, the Priddy Experience Trips this academic year took place within Colorado Springs.

Priddy Experiences typically have focused on outdoor exploration, but because of the adapted structure, new students were able to connect directly with the Colorado Springs community. This was a benefit to many who had yet to explore their new home. Some still visited outdoor areas, such as Red Rock Canyon Open Space, and others had the chance to visit places unique to Colorado Springs, like the new U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.

Two students compete against a virtual Olympic track and field athlete at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum in downtown Colorado Springs.

“We have students coming from all over the country, all over the world, to Colorado Springs to be their home for the next four or five years, and we really want them to have ownership of the space that they call their backyard, and call their home,” says Rachael Abler, assistant director of Outdoor Education.

Nearly 300 first-year students helped clean up a seven-mile stretch of Fountain Creek between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs through a partnership with the two cities and the Adopt-A-Waterway Program. During the three-day Priddy Experience, students removed 4,800 pounds of litter from the creek.

Students appreciated being able to give back to the community in which they now live.

“I feel so lucky to be a part of this community, and I think it’s the least I can do to chip in,” says Darby Shaw ’25. “We’re so lucky to be welcomed into this city and welcomed into this state, so we should all be doing something like this.”