A Game of Pre-College Staff Bonding

Written by Joseph Orman, University of Rochester Class of 2017, Pre-College Counselor and Pre-College Programs alumnus

As a Pre-College alumn, if there was one word I would use to describe the University of Rochester’s Pre-College Programs this year, it would definitely be “different.” From new courses offered, to new activities, to new staff and students, this summer is setting up to be a unique chapter in the Pre-College experience at Rochester. One of the ways our Graduate Head Counselor, Ellie Law, and the rest of the residential staff are making this year different is by introducing staff bonding, a series of activities just for the Pre-College Counselors (PCCs) to get to know each other and participate in fun team building activities.

When I arrived on campus to take part in training before students arrived, I was anxious to meet the other fourteen PCCs I would be working with. When we first sat down for our meetings together, we got to know each other very quickly. I was amazed at the diversity of the team. Between the fifteen of us, we could speak sixteen different languages, came from six different countries and five different states in the US, and all had different interesting facts and stories to share. From Noel’s childhood in Brooklyn, to Jaede’s time in China, to Kayon’s position as one of two geomechanical engineers at Rochester, we had traveled the world, received a diverse education, and have each brought a unique perspective to our position as this year’s PCCs. As we trained together though, one unknown adventure lingered in the back of our minds: What would our first staff bonding program be?

It took less than a day to learn that Ellie is an extremely adventurous person. From skydiving to hiking in African deserts, Ellie has lived the life of a choose-your-own-adventure novel. Knowing Ellie’s background in all things awesome, we began to guess at what we would be doing. Crocodile wrestling? Dirt biking? Fight club? These were all great guesses, but in the end, it was our decision. As votes were cast, PCCs began to feel the adrenalin coursing through our veins as the program was named. Some recoiled in terror as others jumped up and rejoiced as the words were uttered. The most extreme of sports. The pinnacle of completion. The game of the kings. It was none other than the one, the only…


With our most protective clothing on and nervous sweat forming on our foreheads, we entered the N’vasion Paintball center at early twilight. We were greeted with safety waivers and staff telling us the rules of the game, as well as reassuring us of the fun times we were about to have. With our masks on and paintball guns in hand, we posed for a picture before entering the arena, unsure of our footing and ready for some staff bonding.

When we entered the arena, we faced off on either side of the room, braced ourselves for the whistles, and flew into cover on either side as a mighty barrage of paint balls began. For the next two hours, we exchanged fire, covered for our teammates, and let off steam with the knowledge of our first students arriving the next day.

In short, it was the perfect PCC group bonding experience. Learning to communicate in the heat of battle, joking around between matches, and watching Ellie obliterate the opposing PCC teams every match was the most fun I've had in a long time. Not only did we bond as a group, but we also came away with some great quotes, such as:

“Yeah, your supervisor switched teams with us so she could shoot you guys.” –Bachelor party commenting on why Ellie chose to not be on our team.

“Cover my left while I rush to new cover!” –Kareem, maybe a little too into the game.

“Look at that mask, right between the eyes!” –Comment made on the pinpoint accuracy of the paintball splattered over PCC Josh’s mask.

If someone told me that part of my job description this summer would be to shoot paint at my coworkers, I’d think they were crazy. However, now that I've done just that, I wondered why I never played paintball with my coworkers at the florist's in my hometown?

I could not ask to work with a better staff this summer, and I am looking forward both to getting to know everyone better through more staff bonding, and to working with this diverse group of Rochester students in order to give every high school student who has chosen to spend their summer with us the best experience possible. In my opinion, Pre-College Programs embodies the University of Rochester Yellow Jacket spirit, and there was no better way to show off that spirit than in the paintball arena.

About the author

Ursula Balent

I'm the assistant director for Pre-College Programs. I’m a Rochester native and currently live in Hilton, NY. Pre-College Programs are designed for high school students in grades 9–12 to get a taste of the college experience through rigorous coursework and life-changing experiences. From this blog, you will hear from faculty, students, and staff directly involved with Pre-College Programs.

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