For most students, college is a chance to learn about themselves and the world around them – the University of Idaho Outdoor Program provides several ways for students to do just that, said Director Trevor Fulton.
Fulton said between the rental center, rock wall, classes and clinics, nature trips and special events, the Outdoor Program gets about 25,000 participants each year.
“It”s a great place for students who want a non-traditional workout or want a new activity they can do, or a great avenue for people to learn climbing skills that they can then take outside,” Fulton said.
The most recent trip offered through the program was last weekend, when about 12 people traveled to Cannon Beach, Oregon, to surf.
“It”s really cool that they organize a bunch of events, because I think that it gets people out of their comfort zone and stuff they think might be cool but normally wouldn”t try on their own, and it”s really affordable,” said UI sophomore Abigail Keon, who went on the Oregon trip.
The Moscow native said she longboards and snowboards, so she thought surfing would be similar. She said it took a long time to be able to stand up on the board but that everyone had a blast on the trip.
“It also introduces students to people who are in different majors, people you wouldn”t otherwise talk to, and it kind of unites and connects people in a really casual, fun way,” Keon said.
Fulton said the rental center is the backbone of the program, because the equipment allows them to conduct many of their classes and trips, and helps students try things on their own.
“Funding (for the rental center) is mainly from student fees, so students get the best discounts we have, and prices are pretty much on a break-even basis,” Fulton said. “We aren”t trying to make a profit – we look at it as a resource for students who want to try new things but don”t have room to store equipment.”
He said students can rent equipment such as rafts, kayaks, canoes, water clothing, camping gear, climbing equipment and snow gear. The trips and classes available usually have to do with snow sports, hiking and biking trips, women”s activities and water events.
He said the Outdoor Program employs over 40 students, who start at all levels of experiences and go through a training before becoming a group leader for trips.
“The leaders are also very helpful, and they take lots of pictures and are really helpful resources,” Keon said. “If you want to go out and do it on your own, they”ll give you information and help you set up whatever you need.”
She said she also went on the program”s ski trip to Whitefish, Montana, over President”s Day Weekend.
Keon said the camp in Oregon was especially fun because their site was setup just 20 feet from the beach. She said she still talks to people she went on the trips with and considers them to be long lasting friendships with people she probably wouldn”t have talked to without the Outdoor Program.
“If anyone is curious or interested, go in and ask what”s going on,” Keon said. “Whether or not you decide to sign up, it”s good to check it out, and everyone is super friendly, you”ll have a good experience.”