Now you probably know all that already, so a semantic analysis of the title of a trip may seem extra and pointless. And perhaps it is. But as you freshmen who happen to read this will be beginning your Euclid career immediately after you return from the Winter Trip, one of the things you’ll be covering is the definition of a “point”. If something is “pointless”, does that make it something that doesn’t exist at all, or something rather that is not divided as into points, something with bulk, a solid, a continuous quantity, a parabola, etc. Scrutinizing it is an opportunity to demonstrate “far-transfer” and fulfill the goals of the ELP program of which Winter Trip is a part, reflecting on the experience of its title. But I digress, these are bits of information and experiences that the school makes you wait until sophomore year to have.

To cut it to the clear, winter trip as IIT staff who have experienced it remember it, is a week-long trip to northwest Wyoming with only two actual nights spent outside in the outdoors and the rest of the week spent in and out of various churches, halls, and likely a water park. It’s fun, cold for only a bit, and compared to COR, very relaxing. No alpine starts when you’re told rather to “sleep until the sun warms the earth”. No bear fences when you’re told rather to eat and bring food into your sleeping bag. No starving as you’re told to eat twice as much as you think you need, and for much of the trip, have access to fully stocked indoor kitchens. And though it may seem truly surprising, a recent IIT survey of last year’s surviving participants (the mortality rate is a tenth of that of COR’s), shows that 54% found COR to have felt colder than the Winter Trip. We’re not saying Winter Trip isn’t colder, of course, but relax, it doesn’t feel like an Alpine Start Joel Samec fashion in shorts and a t-shirt.

Beginning with a day of preparation after you arrive in Lander (in whatever manner you so bring yourself there), you head to a church in Jackson, WY, spend a day of classes there and explore the town, build a snow cave in the foothills half-an-hour out of the town, sleep in it for two nights, go to a water park, go skiing, and return to Lander. And that’s basically it. Although the details complicate. there’s no on-and-on-and-on-and-on… of hiking, setting up, taking down, more hiking, getting exhausted and the like as you had to endure on COR.

There is some difficulty as we’ll explain academically in the trip, but as long as you properly prepare, the trip can be twice as much fun as COR, literally a piece of cake (in cake-flavored ice cream cooled by liquid nitrogen a bit too much…)

Preparing for Winter Trip

So on the subject of preparing – prepare. Just as the school tells you, read the official guide they put in your mailboxes. But read it more deeply than you think you should. Some sophomores commenting on their experience last year think you should read it even more deeply than the Bible. As Jane Cunningham, a sophomore from Oregon tells us: “Read it four times, memorize it if you can, and treat it like a super difficult Aristotle reading, even like the Bible.”

So if you haven’t started reading it, you should really start now. If for some crazy reason, like not having a mailbox, your imaginary pet Brontosaurus eating it,  or the OLP staff not liking you for some reason, you don’t have a copy, that’s a big problem. But like with most things, IIT is here to help. Here’s a copy of last year’s official guide. This year’s version could be different, but hopefully, this will help. 

And the reason sophomores like Jane say it’s so important is that the “pre-test” for the Winter Trip is worth 40% of the total grade of the course. Just this is enough to see that unlike COR, the Winter Trip is highly academic in the proper sense of that word. Before the trip even starts, you’re tested to an extent deeper than anything Dr. Grove or Dr. Olsson would even consider on the guidebook. So, again read it, because the Winter Trip pre-test is “the worst surprise any student has yet encountered here” according to senior Ryan Engles of Colorado. Somehow most of my class passed, but according to sources within the OLP that IIT has been in contact with, our entire class almost failed the winter trip before we even officially began it, just because of this quiz! And that’s even with a reportedly generous 30% curve applied! Yes, the quiz is that bad. So study for it! 

Besides studying for this quiz on the material in the reading packet, make sure to finish getting your gear together. Along with the reading packet, you should also have been given a long list of gear items you need to have, just like for COR. And though it’s only a week-long trip, prepare to spend a bunch of money for renting gear (or buying it), as the rental cost for most of us came out to be nearly as steep as that for COR.

And then, of course, there’s getting back to Lander on time. We’ve already passed the time for registering for shuttles from Denver and Riverton from the school. So if you’re not on the list for returning early for the Winter Trip (and yes you do need to get back early as the Winter Trip starts before the rest of the semester, not after the semester as some in our class were confused), make sure you start frantically sending out all school emails to find a ride.

Get back on time and remember: elbow bumps only!

If you can’t get a ride though, don’t worry too much, because IIT again has ideas. Just start now, pull an Urgo, and hitchhike. Unless you’re from New Hampshire you should be able to get back in time if you hurry, and the adventure will get you prepared quite well for the trip to come. Or find the nearest other freshmen to you and hide in their suitcase. Maybe you should ask them first, but they should be pretty willing to help out. There’s always renting a ride on a flying saucer of course, or just riding a bicycle the whole way, though from my experience from last year, these were much more practical during the summer for some reason (and I personally do have a higher rate of seeing flying saucers than most people).

Remember also not to get sick, because the school doesn’t want you on the trip if you’re sick and you don’t want to have to do the trip another year. Usually, there isn’t much you can do about this, but one thing the school suggested to us is not to touch other people at all except for elbow bumps. These are light taps, movements of the elbow as signs of greeting rather than contact between hands (not trying to put bumps into the end of your arm as some might think from an equivocal reading). It’s a little awkward and there’s a chance of turning from friendly to a little violent if done improperly, but IIT medical researchers do show about a 2% reduction in the rate of common illnesses amongst those who use elbow bumps as suggested.

Also, contact all your friends in your class over the remainder of break and make sure they are coming back. Right before Winter Trip is the first time that people regularly drop out of the school. While our class was lucky in that we didn’t lose our first-person until February, the unexpected could happen so do all you can to make sure it doesn’t. You want to start Winter Trip on a positive note, not depressed and down a roommate. You’re not sophomores yet.

And one final thing to remember, as it’s quite important during the trip: practice your Bunny-Bunny skills. If you don’t know what Bunny-Bunny is yet, we’re sorry, because it seems your COR instructors failed you.

Here’s a resource to learn it if you haven’t yet

Part III Coming Soon