The Colgate Scene
September 2005

Tour de Colgate
Two admission tour guides reveal why they have the best summer job on campus

Tour guide Gina Landon '07 kicks off a tour in the lobby of James B. Colgate Administration Building. Charley Burkly '07, also a tour guide, stands behind Landon. [Photos by Timothy D. Sofranko]

Charley Burkly '07 and Gina Landon '07, along with four other admission tour guides, spent the summer skirting orange construction cones and managing melting chipwiches to introduce potential students to the Colgate campus. The position, they said, was the best job they've ever had.

Charley: I knew I wanted to be a summer tour guide so I could appreciate the town. You get to meet the people who live in Hamilton. I ran the Boilermaker in Utica, and reunited with some of my Colgate friends there. I was abroad last semester, and I think that contributed to me wanting to be here in the summer, because I missed it so much.

Gina: I love meeting people and talking with them about what I like about Colgate. I'm going abroad in the fall, so I got to spend time with the people I wouldn't see. I've explored central New York. It's just a beautiful area, and it's nice to have experienced all four seasons here. The Fourth of July was fun. We saw the movie The Sandlot outside on the baseball field, and they had a big Fourth of July block party.

Charley and Gina give tours every day during the summer (and less often during the year), deftly walking backwards throughout campus while they talk to students and families. They say each season adds its own special beauty to the campus.

Charley: I like the fall a lot -- when you have to wear a light jacket, and can maybe see just a hint of your breath in the air...

Gina: Me, too -- and I kind of like the winter, too. I'm from southern California, so I still have that "wow" reaction when it snows. I think it makes the campus extremely beautiful. And I like giving tours in the winter because if I can still get people interested in Colgate when there are five feet of snow on the ground then I think I've got them.

Whether they're bundled in winter coats or wearing SPF 30, the tour guides report that there are definite favorite stops along the way.

Charley: The Coop is one place they like, because of the high ceilings, and because it looks like a beautiful ski lodge with terrific food and comfortable seats next to a majestic fireplace. Alums always say, "Oh, my gosh, this is not the Coop. This is incredible!" Hascall Hall is also a favorite.

The tour guides have their own special places on campus.

Charley: I love going up to the cross-country trails. I've been running on them many times, and I took a snowshoeing gym class there. We went cross-country skiing on them after finals week during our freshman year, too.

Gina: It might sound kind of nerdy, but I like the library. I think working there is another one of the best jobs on campus. I work at the circulation desk, and I love to see all my friends and professors come in.

Landon and Burkly spend time answering questions from Emily Kaplan and her mother, Sally Kaplan. Emily said that the Colgate admissions process was definitely a standout. "It's unique with lots of individual attention and really makes a big difference." The Kaplans are from New York City.

Groups make planned stops at locations like the dorms and Frank Dining Hall on the one-hour-and-fifteen-minute tours, but each visit is unique.

Gina: We also personalize it. So if we have somebody on the tour who's really interested in the arts, you can take them inside one of the arts studios. And once, I was giving a tour at nine a.m. We were walking up the Dana Arts Center steps and a family of deer popped out. Everyone thought it was marvelous. I said, "Just for you guys, we brought them out today."

Charley: Every single one of us is involved in different activities on campus, so it's fun because we do point out the same buildings, but we each have a different perspective. We add our stories to it. I talk about my African art class -- it was fantastic. My professor had lived in Nigeria, so she would bring in attire and costumes, and she made us dinner at her house. We did an exhibit in the Longyear Museum.

The campus tour is a blend of Colgate tradition -- like ending every tour by passing out a local ice cream treat -- and the fresh perspective each tour guide adds.

Gina: One of the best things about being a tour guide is that you get to learn more about the school. And when you're out on tour and sharing your experiences and all the fun times you've had, it really reminds you of what you love about Colgate because there is so much.

Charley: I love to see the faces when you finish up the tour and say "I'll give you my e-mail address in case you have questions. Will you please fill out a tour evaluation? And here's a chipwich for you." Their faces light up. Someone said once, "And we thought it couldn't get any better!"

Gina: The chipwiches definitely seal the deal.

Do they indulge themselves?

Charley: I limit myself to one a week.

Gina: One a week is kind of the general rule. Although there have been weeks I have had two. I won't lie.

Charley Burkly '07
Hometown: Flanders, N.J.
Major: Chinese
Minor: sociology and anthropology
Activities: Class Council, College Democrats, run club

Gina Landon '07
Hometown: Torrance, Calif.
Major: classical studies and history
Activities: club soccer team, intramural sports, WRCU DJ

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