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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


A closer look at the Outdoor Rec

Courtesy Beau Leone

Rebecca Delao stands underneath Delicate Arch in Arches National Park on Sunday, March 12. 

Located on the south side of the Student Recreation Center, off Seventh Street and near the sand volley ball courts and bouldering wall, lies the Outdoor Rec building. The facility consists of three components: the rental center, challenge course and adventure trips. The Outdoor Rec Program offers numerous resources, ranging from certifications to group bonding and team activities at the challenge course. Besides being an outlet to the outdoors, the program is largely focused on educating the UA community and those in the Tucson area about the outdoors. 

The Outdoor Adventures program strives to make all its resources affordable to those interested in furthering their education through the outdoors. Andrew Huff, a Michigan native and assistant director of the Outdoor Rec, identified an issue in getting lower socio-economic groups into the wilderness. 

“The outdoors has been a leisure sport, unfortunately, and is one that is for upper middle class and higher,” he said. “It should be the exact the opposite. We’re doing what we can here to change that.” 

A rafting trip that would cost $300-400 through other agencies is about $175 at the Outdoor Rec.

Outdoor Adventures considers itself more an educational program than a commercial entity. This can be seen when viewing how Outdoor Adventures structures its trips. Generally, trips consist of no more than 10 individuals. This aligns with the “Leave No Trace” ideology, an ethical code used by the Outdoor Adventures team to promote conservation of the outdoors. 

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“There’s a lot of sensitive areas here in Arizona that need to have caretakers, making sure that we don’t overuse them,” Huff said. “We’re certainly not a commercial outfit.” 

Huff said commercial outfits can sometimes damage trails and can bring too many people on rafting trips and other adventures.

Although a student can’t earn credit through Outdoor Adventures programs, they can learn unique skills, such as the basics of repelling or mountain climbing. The trips also offer students a chance to travel the country, meet new people and get out of their comfort zone. 

Outdoor Adventures offered various trips this spring break, mostly focused on backpacking, canyoneering, rock climbing and hiking. 

I had a chance to go on the program’s trip to Moab, Utah. It was led by UA students Geoffrey Angle and Matt Packard, both experienced leaders who had gone on dozens of trips in the past. 

We spent four days in Arches National Park receiving guidance in various outdoors activities, all the while being immersed in nature, surrounded by seas of red rock. 

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Angle, a senior majoring in agricultural engineering, was no stranger to the outdoors and has spent the last four years leading trips. He became like stern father to the group. Packard, a junior majoring in business finance, provided frequent comic relief that kept the group relaxed, especially during canyoneering and rock climbing. They became intimately known within the group as Papa Jeff and Mama Matt.

The trip allowed me to meet people I normally wouldn’t cross paths with at the UA. In days, a group of strangers became friends. We were forced to constantly get out of our comfort zone and live in the moment. We did everything as group, whether it be eating or canyoneering. 

For canyoneering, we repelled 130 feet after hiking 4,600 feet up a canyon. There was a collective panic to recline. 

“I thought looking down was the worst but after … I felt great,” Felice Deluca, a Ph.D. student in computer science, said about the experience.

We proceeded to hike in between slabs of rock and even had a spontaneous moonlight hike that night. 

For anyone seeking adventure, the Outdoor Rec is a good place to start. Through adversity and the outdoors, one can make friends and learn unique skills.

Follow Jack Dana on Twitter.

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