Columbia College | Columbia Engineering

Columbia Outdoor Orientation Program

Fall 2021 Update

As the Covid-19 crisis continues this spring, we are unable to host our spring training trip for student leaders. Given this, and our inability to plan with certainty for the fall program due to continued travel restrictions and other logistical challenges, the Columbia Outdoor Orientation Program will not take place in the fall of 2021.

The Columbia Outdoor Orientation Program (COÖP) is a four-day outdoor pre-orientation experience for approximately 225 first-year students. COÖP takes place in late August, four days before the start of the New Student Orientation Program (NSOP). COÖP is divided into three sub-programs: Hiking (HOP), biking (BOP) and river-canoeing (ROP).

COÖP is an orientation program that uses the outdoors and adventure education to build connection between incoming first-years and returning student leaders. These connections then develop into an on-campus community of caring and support throughout their undergraduate experience.

COÖP Programs: HOP, BOP and ROP

COÖP is divided into three sub-programs: Hiking (HOP), biking (BOP) and river-canoeing (ROP). All three programs happen at the same time, and students are assigned to one of the programs.

The hiking program (HOP) is a backpacking camping trip in the Catskill Mountains. "HOPers" hike with their leaders and spend three nights camping in the mountains.

The biking program (BOP) is a 153-mile biking trip through three states: New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. "BOPers" ride with their leaders and are followed by a team of drivers who carry their supplies and belongings, cheering them on as they ride.

The river-canoeing program (ROP) is an approximately 25-mile canoeing experience on the Delaware River along the border between Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. "ROPers" paddle with their leaders and camp along their route throughout the program.

How skilled in the outdoors do I need to be to participate in COÖP?

COÖP participants do not need to have prior experience in the outdoors! We simply ask that students who wish to participate in the biking program are able to ride a bike and that students who wish to participate in the river-canoeing program are able to swim.

Who plans COÖP?

COÖP is managed by a staff member in Undergraduate Student Life and three student coordinators (one for each program). This year’s coordinators are Christian Palomares (CC '22), Makena Kiara (CC '22), and Lynne Irvin (SEAS '22). Additional Columbia staff members accompany each trip to assist with trip logistics and risk management while away from campus.

What is the program fee for COÖP?

The program fee for COÖP is $500. A limited number of full and partial fee waivers are available to students who demonstrate financial need, as verified through the Office of Financial Aid and Educational FinancingPriority will be given to students with the highest levels of financial need. 

Who can participate in COÖP?

All incoming first-year students to Columbia College and Columbia Engineering are eligible to apply to participate in COÖP.

Do I need to buy equipment?

Columbia has a limited amount of sleeping bags and frame packs that students are able to rent for the duration of the trip at a small fee to student participants. Students who participate in ROP will receive dry bags for the trip, and students who participate in BOP will receive a bike and helmet to be used while on the trip. Please note that students who receive financial aid from the program will have rental fees waived.

I have allergies or a dietary restriction. Can I still participate in COÖP?

COÖP can accommodate most dietary needs; however prior notice to the COÖP staff and student coordinators is necessary in order to do so. Students should list any dietary needs or allergies (food or otherwise) in their registration for the program to ensure that the team is best able to make accommodations. Please note that most food on the trip is already vegetarian and can easily be made vegan.

What are the sleeping accommodations on the trip?

COÖP takes place in the outdoors, and students camp during the duration of the trip in tents with other participants and leaders. Bathroom access varies by trip (and even by day). As an off-the-grid experience, this is certainly not a glamping trip!

How are applicants selected for COÖP?

Each spring, once all applications are received for all pre-orientation programs, the COÖP team reviews all applications from students who indicated an interest in COÖP. Often, the process yields more interest than there are spots on the program, and as a result, each year there are students that the program is not able to accept. COÖP encourages applicants to demonstrate their personality and interest in the program when they apply for the best chance of being selected to participate.