College Outdoors takes COVID-19 precautions

Illustration of two students taking a selfie while wearing hiking gear and face masks.
Illustration by Madeline Cox

Due to COVID-19, College Outdoors (CO) has had to make significant changes to their programming this semester. Normally, during the week before New Student Orientation, CO staff lead New Student Trips (NSTs) around the Pacific Northwest that give students the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities including hiking, surfing, rafting and backpacking. This year, these trips were replaced with Virtual New Student Trips (V-NSTs). These virtual sessions consisted of ice-breaker activities and games such as Pictionary and Lewis & Clark trivia. Current students were also able to answer questions about life at LC and what this year may look like, according to Assistant Trip Leader Grace Ralston ’21. 

“I think V-NSTs successfully achieved the same goal that NST’s have of creating community and giving new students a way to connect with their peers and fellow upperclassmen before arriving on campus,” Ralston said via email.

Since V-NSTs were conducted online, they were accessible to a wider range of students than regular NSTs. 

“One of the best parts about V-NSTs had to be the fact that everyone could participate,” Ralston said. “Because they were free and available at various times throughout the day, only requiring internet access and a device to attend with, everyone was able to join. This meant that students with disabilities, international students and student-athletes could all participate in NSTs when they were not able to before.”

CO has also had to adapt their regular programming during the semester to comply with COVID-19 regulations. Students can no longer rent gear from the CO warehouse, trip registration is now being conducted online and trips that required transportation are no longer running. Even with these restrictions, CO is still offering a variety of trips and workshops happening on and near campus. 

“All the trips we are running at this time are trips that do not require transportation to get there, which means they are close to campus and many of the hikes can be done by residents even when they are not on a trip,” Ralston said. “We have also been able to offer a bunch of fun trips we haven’t had in the past such as natural fiber basket weaving and nature meditation.” 

Other programs being offered this semester include dutch-oven cooking clinics, overnight backpacking trips in Tryon, trail running and mushroom foraging and identifying clinics. Students can view and register for trips on the College Outdoor Trip Calendar on the LC website. 

Ralston encourages students to get involved in CO this semester. CO offers office hours every day and open house every other Wednesday. According to Ralston, students can meet CO leaders and other students who are interested in getting involved during open house. Students can also apply to be a student coordinator for CO by filling out an application on their website. To be added to the CO mailing list and receive their weekly newsletter, email

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