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Outdoor Program provides students with affordable outdoor experiences

Westminster College students at the Aspiring Outdoor Leaders Backpacking Trip spring 2018 to Water Canyon in southern Utah. The Outdoor Program offers student-led trips at a low cost as a way for students to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. (Photo courtesy Haley Schiek)

The Outdoor Program provides students with a community to grow, learn and get outside at an affordable rate on student lead trips or by renting affordable equipment, according to Outdoor Program staff members.

Under half of the U.S. population, ages six and older, engaged in activities outdoors at least one time in 2017, according to the 2018 Outdoor Participation Report. The number of outdoor experiences also decreased from 11.0 billion outings total in 2016, to 10.9 billion outings total in 2017, a difference of 100 million outings.

Additionally, of people participating in outdoor outings, 32 percent of participants have an income of more than $100,000 that year.

“This is where I think that the Outdoor Program is like its own undiscovered jewel in some ways,” said trip leader Anna Robert, a junior environmental science major and outdoor education minor. “Not as many people know you can rent equipment for really cheap. […] By renting gear to folks, we allow them to go experiment and try these things like snowshoeing and cross country skiing with us, or with people that they are comfortable with.”

The Outdoor Program offers students “a really wonderful chance to go out and experience something new,” according to Robert.

The program offers student-led weekend trips which are a great way to build connections with new people, according to Lasana Trawally, a junior public health major at Westminster College and a trip leader.

“It’s a program here on campus that encourages students to explore the outdoors and also give students the opportunity to go on cool trips that are reasonably priced as well,” Trawally said.

The program presents students with the opportunity to get involved in outdoor experiences no matter what skill level or amount of knowledge an individual has, according to Trawally.

Rental equipment and resources for students are stacked high in the Outdoor Program office in HWAC February 2019. Exploring the outdoors can be expensive, but the Outdoor Program provides students with the chance to get outside affordably, said program staff. (Photo by Lacey Kisko)

“The gear and food [on the trips] are mostly paid for through the participation fees, so all you need to do is bring yourself down to the office,” Trawally said. “If you need equipment, we have equipment you can use, so it’s like a really low cost.”

Going beyond student lead trips and rental gear, the Outdoor Program also offers students the ability to tune their own equipment through the Ski & Snowboard Collective.

The program also offers Outdoor Experiences, which is a pre-orientation program which provides a nice transition into college, said Program Director Tiana White.

“[The Outdoor Program] also provides a really wonderful community that I think works really hard to move forward and be more inclusive and also to support its members,” Robert said.

According to White, the Outdoor Program is a place for students to find a community, get outside and learn about the outdoors. The program provides opportunities for students to go outdoors and to de-stress away from classes.

“I think [in the program, people] might discover something, either about the outdoors or about themselves, that they didn’t understand before,” White said.


*A previous version of the story misspelled Haley Schiek’s name in the photo attribution. 

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Lacey Kisko is a senior studying communication and entrepreneurship. She is working to create a more artistic and influential outlook on everyday life. She focuses her spare time and passions on the outdoors working with photography and other design elements. You can find her skiing, painting, drawing and hanging out with friends.

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