A welcome weekend unlike any other

Click here to watch a video of the trip.

Click here to view photos from the trip.

The excitement pulsed through the air like drumbeats as the incoming C of I freshmen filed off buses, fresh faced and ready to be on their own, ready to begin the chapter titled ‘college,’ ready to…go camping in beautiful McCall, Idaho?

As part of the annual McCall Wilderness Experience, nearly 300 Yotes traveled two hours north of the Treasure Valley for a truly distinctive college welcome weekend.

“I think this is an absolutely unique opportunity for the first-year students at The College of Idaho,” said C of I ski coach Ron Bonneau, who coordinates the trip every year. “It gives them the opportunity to express themselves and take that next step in their lives to join a new community and find out what it’s all about.”

Students participated in sand volleyball, canoeing, hiking and swimming. There were also team-building activities such as playing human Hungry-Hungry-Hippos, going through obstacle courses and trying to fill up a hole-riddled metal trashcan with water.

“The whole reason I came to Idaho was for something like this,” said Patrick Leeson, a freshman from Northern Ireland. “I could have gone to D.C., New York, or big cities in the East. I saw this one small college out in the West and thought I’d go out on a little bit of an adventure. It was this exact kind of scenery and people I wanted to experience.”

The trip allowed the incoming class of students to meet each other, transitioning from strangers to neighbors, friends and family members with each story told over a meal or next to a campfire.

“I’ve met a lot of new people,” freshman Laurel Weiss said. “I’ve met new friends who’ve I had a good time with. It’s exciting to say that I’ll be able to know these people for the next four years.”

As their first classes loomed two days later, being initiated to the College through ‘summer camp’ also allowed students’ nerves to calm down.

“My high school friends were the guys who went off in all different directions, and we’ve all split off,” said freshman James Lewis. “But here at The College of Idaho, I know we’re going to be one big family, so I’m excited for that.”

And he wasn’t the only one eager to start this new journey in life.

“I’ve been here a week now, and it’s definitely something I like—a lot,” Leeson said. “People say there is something in the water about C of I, and I realize what it is—it’s just the people, the friendliness and the community. I look forward to what this year brings.”

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit