September 30, 2022 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Kristen Richards | Photo by Sam Nystrom Costales
It’s the Sunday night before Block 2, and on the grass outside Worner, there’s a group of students lying against hiking packs and eating peanut butter straight out of the jar. These are the hours that plague the transition from Block Break to week one, with washing machines full and Canvas pages released. It’s when the cars are locked with the tents still in the trunk.
The next morning we are asked, again and again, “what did you do during Block Break?” The answer is awaited. I went to _____ (place) and practiced ________ (sport or outdoor activity). Memories of Block Break are shared, many and most of them involve hiking, camping, climbing or, in winter, skiing. It’s a way for the community to connect; these moments of telling stories and sharing anecdotes of trips to the Sand Dunes, Zion, or the Grand Canyon.
It’s fascinating to both listen to and participate in this feeling that we’re all doing, essentially, the same thing, but in different ways. And that those things that some CC students choose to do in their spare time (i.e. Block Break) are sometimes activities involving some aspect of the outdoors.
Life on the block plane can seem like there is a separate “block” and “block break” with no space in between. The transition from one to the other is seamless, like wearing hiking boots until your fourth Wednesday exam or walking straight from Ahlberg Gear House to your first class on Monday morning. But what aspects of our identity do we leave behind Block Break and bring back with us to the classroom? Is this separation of activities – from outside to inside – detrimental to our perception of ourselves and of others?
Colorado College even advertises it on the front of its website, removing the part where we return to campus exhausted and elated from the outside, and not ready to sit in class the next morning. What if we needed a Block Break from our Block Break?
Maybe there can be a middle ground, where the Block Break is not the top, and the block is not the bottom. A place where returning to campus after a camping trip isn’t a downer, but an excitement for something new. I believe the outdoors – where so many CC students spend their Block Break – is critical to this transition.
There must be a place of centering, of liberation, of pleasure. Of course, all of this can be found within the block itself, but having the agency and authority to plan your own trip and have fun can’t be replaced. In this there is the option to join an outdoor education trip and go somewhere new, or drive a short distance to your favorite location away from the city (as far as Colorado Springs can be considered a “city”) to relax.
Nature can mean different things to different people. So again, the question, “what should I do during Block Break?” is a question of how to balance your need to rest with your need to explore. Luckily, there are opportunities for adventure seemingly everywhere in CC, no matter how far or how close you want to travel.
However, it can become a question of “how far can you go”, both in the sense of exploring outside the classroom and finding the most extreme and craziest adventure to undertake during four and a half days. Perhaps what we need to bridge the gap between different types of adventurers may be the different ways to relax and rejuvenate. Marvel at the stories of rock climbing in Moab, but don’t forget to leave room for those who prefer a quiet Block Break on campus or in a nearby town.