Building From the Ground Up: A New Addition to the Outdoor Education Center

Written by Sonya Padden and Helen Carter

Boats, skis, bikes, and backpacks are just some of the many high-quality items that Colorado College’s Gear House offers and rents to students for personal use and Outdoor Recreation (ORC) trips. The Outdoor Education Center (OEC) building isn’t just for gear storage; it’s a bustling hive of student employees, a destination for meetings and creative workshops, and most importantly, a community resource. All these resources will be available in one convenient location by the end of Block 8 this year. An annex is being built that will be connected to the existing OEC, and will be the new home for the Ahlberg Gear House, as well as the Bike Co-op and Boathouse. Having everything together in one central location will make organizing, cleaning, and storing gear more accessible and centralized for students.

Crew breaks ground to start construction of the new annex to the Outdoor Education Building. Photos by Daniel Sarché

The project has been in the works for a couple of years now and, thanks to the donation from a generous alum, the cost of the project has been completely covered. The addition will allow for more workshops, student meetings, and trainings to occur within the current OEC building, which will be revamped into a cozier community space. The basement of the OEC will house trip-specific gear and the friendly gear-house staff will, as usual, be there to help with any and all questions, comments, and concerns.

Although this may just seem like another construction project on CC’s campus, it reflects just how accessible the Outdoor Education Program really is. With financial aid, leadership tracks, and a wide variety of trips to meet all skill levels, Colorado College has one of the greatest college outdoor education programs in the country. The construction project will make it even easier for students to take advantage of the valuable and unique resources provided. For example, I doubt many people are aware of the true variety of gear offered. Namely, there is fly-fishing gear, stand-up paddleboards, and even tandem inflatable kayaks available to students. The Outdoor Education staff hopes that the new addition will not only make resources more accessible to students already involved in the outdoors, but also bring the greater Colorado College community together and open up outdoor education opportunities to even more students.

Photos by Daniel Sarché

Emmett de Maynadier, Colorado College’s Whitewater Raft and Kayak Coordinator, is especially excited about the new building because of what will become of the current OEC building. According to de Maynadier, the current building will be converted into a space similar to Sacred Grounds where people can hang out and enjoy each other’s company. He believes that this will add to the community that the OEC would like to bring together.

Junior Alana Aamodt commented on the move of the Bike Co-op: “It will definitely be convenient in the sense that the bike co-op right now is really hard to find if you don’t know where it is, so this will make it easier.” She also pointed out that many people think the Bike Co-op is a bike repair shop, but actually, they instruct student-visitors on how to fix their bikes on their own. Aamodt hopes that this move will help make everything clearer.

The Bike Co-Op is a newer branch of the Outdoor Education program, which has grown a lot over the years. It provides a space for people to fix their bikes and also learn about biking events. It is currently further across campus and away from the OEC, so the inclusion of the Bike Co-Op in the new building will make it much more accessible and convenient for students. The Boathouse is also currently at a completely different location on campus (a shed attached to the Student Publications House on Weber St.), so its move should also gain greater accessibility, not to mention usable space, for the boathouse gear and staff.

This exciting new addition will hopefully make students aware of the multitude of resources the OEC has to offer, and should make outfitting one’s next outdoor adventure much easier.

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