When Hamilton’s Class of 2024 arrived on campus in August 2020, the pandemic prevented many of the usual opportunities for new students to get to know each other. Arrivals were staggered, COVID tests administered, and students had to quarantine in their rooms until test results came back. Perhaps most disappointing was the cancellation of the popular orientation trips where members of a new class bond in small groups.

In an effort to make up for that, Hamilton offered sophomores the opportunity to take Adirondack Adventure trips this year during Fall Break. Sophomore trips were developed, supervised, and overseen by the professional outdoor leadership staff with important contributions from sophomore trip student coordinators Margaret (Maggie) McDow ’23, Lena Schneck ’23, and Shelby McVey ’22.

Sarah Jillings, assistant director of outdoor leadership, said the trips were met with an eager response, with 40 members of the Class of ’24 signing up. She said every student interested was able to enroll in trips that also included 10 upperclassmen leaders. “It’s a great experience for sophomores and a wonderful leadership opportunity for student leaders,” she added. 

Like a typical Hamilton orientation, students started off on campus with big group games and the ropes course. Then on Friday they boarded buses bound for the Adirondacks — hiking trips to the Ausable Club area, (Sawteeth, Gothics, and Armstrong Mountain), and one to the Giant Mountain area; two canoe groups — one that travelled between Raquette Lake and Blue Mountain Lake, and an easy trip that paddled Long Lake; and sea kayaking at Stillwater Reservoir, led by Director of Outdoor Leadership AndrewJillings. Although the weather was soggy and far from perfect, the trips were a success and students captured a bit of what they missed in 2020.

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