Getting Outdoors at College

kayaking

If you happen to be attending college. you are very likely in the best position you will ever be in to get outdoors and get active.  Many colleges and universities offer outdoor recreation centers, guided tours of all sorts, access to a wide range of outdoor equipment and much more, all created with the budget of a college student in mind.

Hoofers

At the University of Wisconsin, outdoor recreation equals the Wisconsin Hoofers.  When there, I took the opportunity to try kayaking.  I learned that it was a lot harder than it looks – if you tip over.  I tipped over a lot, partly because it was part of the training and partly because I would frequently mess up. I also learned that perseverance pays off and kayaking is a great activity.  Hoofers began in 1931 and these days is the largest student organization on campus with 2500 members.  Within Hoofers are six clubs:

  • Outing (hiking, bicycling, canoeing, kayaking, XC Skiing, backpacking and the like)scuba diver
  • Mountaineering
  • Riding (horses)
  • Sailing (second largest inland fleet of boats in the U.S.)
  • SCUBA
  • Ski and Snowboard

While the University of Wisconsin is in the top most tier of outdoor recreation oriented schools,  it is not alone.  Most colleges offer some sort of outdoor recreation program.  Most of the time there is an outdoor center at the school, a strong curriculum in outdoor recreation (in physical education, for example) or an intramural program involving outdoor adventure activities.

College Outdoor Centers

While at Oregon State University I took at least one cross country skiing trip.  As I recall we skied up the backside of Hoodoo Bowl in wet snow and rain and, once at the top, were told to meet up at the parking lot at the bottom.  It was more challenging than fun to get down the icy slopes in one piece, but again, perseverance pays off and cross country skiing remains my favorite winter activity.  At OSU today, the center of outdoor activities is the Adventure Leadership Institute.  It offers a certificate program, courses and the Adventure Club.  Recent activities planned by the Adventure Leadership Institute included hiking, an overnight bicycle trip, canoeing and backpacking.

A few other examples are:

Colorado State University – offering over 50 clinics, trips and events through the year with the aim of teaching students the skills they need to enjoy their outdoor recreation experience.  Some of the activities involved: backcountry skiing, downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice climbing, hiking, rock climbing, backpacking, camping and more.

sailboatUniversity of Hawaii – Student Recreation  Services teaches students how to safely enjoy surfing, body surfing, body boarding, kayaking, sailing, SCUBA, snorkeling and more.  Other student organizations support bicycling, and surfing.

The University of Tennessee has a division of student life called RecSports.  They offer outdoor activities including mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, rafting, kayaking, and more.  This is all coordinated by at the Recreation Center and they also have a bicycle shop.

Ohio State University has a Adventure Recreation Center and an Outdoor Adventure Center. They offer an array of trips, clinics, and adventures that address wilderness hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, rappelling, skiing, canyoneering, slackening, caving, backpacking, stand up paddle boarding, and more

Just Get Outdoors

Pretty much wherever you go to school, you’ll find a lot of opportunities to get outdoors and learn some new skills while you are at it.  Typically no experience is needed, since most students have little or no experience in these activities anyway.

So, if you are at college of planning to go, take the opportunity to enhance your outdoor experiences by taking advantage of the many opportunities your school offers.  Stop by the recreation center and see what’s happening.

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