Outdoor Adventures ramps up campus presence

UNA student Sarah Beth Simpson helps fellow student Jessica Colyer across a slackline at an Outdoor Club event held on campus Sept. 18.

Outdoor Adventures, a recreational program located in the Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC), has increased their campus presence this semester by hosting slacklining and camping events near Collier Library.

The events serve to raise awareness for the program and the Outdoor Club RSO, said McKenzie Martin, club supervisor and director of Outdoor Adventures.

Martin, a UNA alumna, said she is excited to be back in Florence and working as the new director of Outdoor Adventures. Martin said her first task was to work on branding to strengthen the program’s campus identity.

“We just got our logo, which looks great, and we have begun to offer weekly programs for outdoor education,” Martin said. “We’re now starting a program on geocaching in the area, for example.”

These programs, every Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Outdoor Adventure Center, are meant to educate students about outdoor conduct and activities. The classes will provide a fun opportunity for students with any level of interest to socialize and get involved with outdoor activities, Martin said.

“The center houses the educational aspects, while the Outdoor Club will provide the opportunity to go out and do the fun stuff,” Martin said. “We are working on building a core student group right now so education will be the main focus for us at the center.”

The Outdoor Club and Outdoor Adventures are working closely together to build a campus community for students interested in the outdoors. Martin said the Outdoor Club is largely controlled by the students, although she is the adviser.

“I think we like to focus on how beautiful our campus is,” Martin said, “A lot of people think ‘outdoor adventure’ means mountains and white water, but we have a great hiking and biking trails so close to campus.”

Martin said the Shoals area makes it easy to keep programs local and that all programs offered at the center are free to students.

“One thing we are looking to do at the center is to take our back yard and create a sustainable garden,” Martin said. “We will be learning from Urban Organics, then training students so that we can eventually grow organic fruits and vegetables. We’d like to have a student-run farmers’ market one day as a way to give back to campus.”

In addition to these programs and having weekly slacklining on campus–2 to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays–the OAC also offers outdoor equipment for checkout. Jonathan Oliphant, a student employee of the OAC, says the equipment is of good quality and free to students.

“Anything you need to go on a small outdoor trip you can check out at the center,” Oliphant said. “We plan to eventually teach kayak polo with our new kayaks in the Flowers Hall pool. I’m pretty excited about that one.”

Oliphant, also a member of the Outdoor Club, said the club intends to encourage all students to consider being involved in the outdoors.

“If you have any remote interest in the outdoors, we’re always happy to hang out and hear what you like,” Oliphant said. “We can organize big trips with vans or just do stuff around town. It’s great because, since the club is a recognized student organization, we have access to allocation money.”

Christian Walker, a sophomore at UNA, recently joined the Outdoor Club to get plugged in on campus. In addition to outdoor events, Walker said he had other reasons for getting involved.

“My favorite thing about the club is by far the people, especially the staff at the OAC,” Walker said. “You will not find a better group of people to have fun with.”