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Ask the Outdoor Program: Tiana White

students carrying a kayak

by Lewis Figun Westbrook (’21)

COVID-19 has changed the way people interact with the world, including how they spend time outside. We talked to the Outdoor Program director, Tiana White, about the resources the Outdoor Program offers and how to stay active.

How has COVID-19 affected the Outdoor Program?

“We had to suspend all spring semester and May term programming in addition to suspending all field-based academic course support. We moved all courses, programs, and trainings online—including our trip-leader training and senior celebration.”

Why is staying active is important?

“Our mental and physical health depends on it always, and especially during times of high stress and disruptions in routine.”

How do you suggest alumni can stay active?

“I would recommend getting outside while also being conscious of impact on small communities and physical distancing. I also recommend getting creative around the house with ways to stay active.”

How are you staying active during COVID-19?

“I have invented several yard workouts, I walk my dog, I have gone on creatively designed bike rides with good friends (at a distance, of course), and I get into the backcountry when I can.”

Are you still renting out equipment? If yes can you explain the process to rent out equipment?

“We will resume equipment rentals when in-person classes begin.”

What precautions/safety measures are you taking to make sure renting out equipment is safe during the pandemic?

“When we begin renting again, we will have systems in place for distancing such as phone reservations, payment, and curbside pickup as well as an enhanced sanitizing regiment. Since we’re a small operation, our equipment doesn’t experience frequent turnaround between customers, so we can also let the equipment sit unrented for over 72 hours—the maximum life span of the virus on surfaces.”

Before the pandemic, what was the Outdoor Program usually like for alumni?

“Alums are welcome to participate in any and all of our trips and events just as they could when they were a student. We find that having alums on trips has been really valuable for current students as they have conversations about careers and life after college. We also have alumni trip leaders who are incredible.” 

Why do you think it’s important to provide this access to alumni specifically and not just students?

“In addition to the reasons above, I think it’s important to keep alums connected to Westminster students and staff. We lean on our alums to lead trips, teach courses, and mentor students and they’re the best at it because they can actually put themselves in the shoes of current students.”

Why do you think programs like this are important, especially during a pandemic?

“Since March, we have spent our time working on plans to minimize COVID-19 risk during outdoor programming. After lots of research and conversations with health professionals, we’re grateful that outdoor programming is actually lower risk than a lot of other things we do day-to-day. For that reason, we think it’s important to provide outdoor programming so that people can remain active and connect with the environment in ways that also minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19.”



About the Westminster Review

The Westminster Review is Westminster College’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.