Outdoor lifestyle is students’ cure-all

by Joe Westenberg

Outdoor Recreation is a student-run program at Whitworth, created by the school to help more students discover and experience the best recreation activities Spokane has to offer. It has since expanded its geographic focus to much of the Western United States.

Head of Outdoor Rec and senior Jeff Podmayer is solely responsible for locations and activities for trips, as well as figuring out logistics such as budgeting, travel and lodging.

“The big trips we do are extremely popular and there’s always demand for more of them,” Podmayer said. “The problem is that it’s a lot of work to make these trips happen and it’s hard to balance that with being a full-time student.”

That’s why there are eight new volunteers working with him to make sure there are more opportunities for students to experience the thrill of wild landscapes. These volunteers are organized into four different groups: hiking, biking, climbing and rafting. This system has already begun producing results in the quantity and frequency of big trips.

Outdoor Rec organizes big trips throughout the year, which usually happen during Spring and Fall Break. Two different memorable trips from previous years include zip-lining and mountain biking in Moab, Utah. A group of students recently took a backpacking trip to St. Regis Lakes in Montana from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. Activities included swimming, relaxing and stargazing. The goal of the trip was to teach them the basics of backpacking, such as what to bring, how to wear a pack, how to set up a tent and most importantly how to just have fun.

“It wasn’t necessarily an instructional trip, those are things that you learn by doing,” said sophmore Sara Morrill, one of the leaders of the trip. “We had a great mix of boys and girls on this trip and they all had different skill levels as well.”

The goal behind the Outdoor Rec program is to introduce students to something they’ve never done before, whether that’s whitewater rafting, rock climbing or backpacking. The program also aims to teach students how to make outdoor recreation a part of their lifestyle.

“I really enjoy it when we have students on the trip who have never done it before,” Podmayer said. “The best part for me is the moment when they begin to realize how much fun they are having.”

This year Outdoor Rec is trying to have an activity every weekend such as slacklining in the Loop, held twice already including last Saturday. Outdoor Rec brought out the slacklines and stretched them between trees and students attempted to walk the length of it while keeping their balance. Students were invited to try it out whether they were new or experienced. The event helped get the word out that these events would be taking place.

The program also has a large selection of equipment available for students to rent, including climbing gear, packs, tents ranging from two-five person, and ski or snowboard gear. The program has a new website where equipment and rental prices can be found.

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