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New Outdoor Recreation Program Rocks (among other things)

New Outdoor Recreation Program
Rocks (Among other things)

Few places exist where an outdoor enthusiast can mountain bike slick-rock desert trails and ski fresh powder all in one weekend! The Wasatch and Uintah mountains boast some of the most beautiful peaks, alpine lakes, wildflowers, wildlife, and opportunities for outdoor adventures anywhere in the world. Just a short drive from Salt Lake City is the red rock desert of southern Utah with five national parks and a breathtaking playground for canyoneering, biking, river rafting, and exploring ancient Native American rock art and ruins. The students of Westminster College have the opportunity to experience all this through the new Outdoor Recreation Program that was launched in the fall of 2007.

The goal of the outdoor program is to help the Westminster community take advantage of the unique natural environment that surrounds the school. The program will enhance the college’s mission by providing students with challenging learning opportunities. Much critical learning takes place in extracurricular activities such as the outdoor recreation program provides. It will also help students, faculty, staff, and alumni to come together in their outdoor interests.

Outdoor activities the program will facilitate include hiking, mountain biking, camping, backpacking, fly fishing, and rock climbing, as well as educational activities and classes. The program will coordinate with Winter at Westminster’s activity schedule whenever possible, including the Lecture & Learn presentations such as “Know Before You Go,” an avalanche awareness class taught by Craig Gordon; “Climbing Mt. Everest,” with Snowbird’s Snow Safety Assistant Director, Dean Cardinale; outdoor adventure films; presentations from outdoor industry leaders; and general camaraderie among outdoor enthusiasts!

During the summer, the college remodeled a fantastic new space for the Outdoor Recreation Program in the Dolores Doré Eccles Health, Wellness, and Athletic Center where students interested in the program can congregate, meet new people, share outdoor experiences, watch outdoor videos, find partners for outdoor activities, and peruse the resource library. The library will have a variety of outdoor-related items such as guidebooks and maps that students can check out with their ID cards. Students can come here for program information, to sign up for events, or to rent equipment. This location will also be the general meeting area for outdoor activities and classes, including pre-trip meetings for longer backpacking trips.

Most of the program’s trips will take place in the Wasatch and Uintah mountain ranges and the canyon lands of southern Utah. Climbing Utah’s highest peak, King’s Peak, will be a highlight for the fall, as will a four-day excursion to Moab for hiking, biking, and rafting to celebrate the college’s Common Ground “desert” theme. The program will collaborate with other organizations on campus such as the Environmental Center, the Center for Civic Engagement, and the Office of Student Life to plan activities in the outdoors and build a stronger college community.

The program will also provide outdoor rental equipment at a great price to the members of the Westminster community. Starting with basic camping and backpacking equipment, such as tents, stoves, backpacks, and sleeping bags, the selection will expand as demand and interests evolve. In the future, we hope to purchase and rent gear such as mountain bikes and water sports equipment.
The climbing wall, now in its third year, will be integrated into the outdoor program as well. We will continue programming such as “First Move” and “Lead Climbing” classes and develop new classes such as “Women’s Climb” and “Climbing Technique.” Last March, the wall held its first annual climbing competition called the “Plastic Pull” and it was a great success! Outdoor companies such as Black Diamond, the Front Climbing Gym, Eldorado Wall Company, and Liberty Mountain sponsored the competition and provided very generous prizes.

One of the goals of the Outdoor Recreation Program is to provide leadership opportunities for students. We anticipate that within two years the program will be run primarily by students with staff supervision. Student assistants will be needed for indoor responsibilities such as renting and maintaining equipment, organizing paperwork for trips, running the resource library, and helping to spread the word about outdoor program activities. Students who are interested in gaining outdoor leadership skills will have the opportunity to plan and lead outdoor trips. In the future, we will implement an outdoor leadership class for academic credit. This course will likely be a collaboration of the environmental studies program and the Fitness, Wellness, and Recreation Department.

With such a beautiful natural environment at its doorstep, Westminster College is very excited about the opportunities the Outdoor Recreation Program will provide for its students, faculty, staff, and alumni!

Liz Rogers, Westminster’s outdoor recreation director, is creating our new Outdoor Recreation Program to ensure that all Westminster students can take advantage of our natural surroundings. Liz grew up in California. She spent her first two years of college at the University of British Columbia and went on to complete a BA in communication at the University of Utah. She received a Master of Education degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Liz has worked as an instructor for the Alf Engen Ski School and the National Outdoor Leadership School. Prior to coming to Westminster, she taught high school at the Horizonte Instruction and Training Center. Her favorite outdoor activity is all of them, especially skiing!