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Photo provided via Outdoor Pursuits website.

Outdoor Pursuits combines nature with team building

Outdoor Pursuits is the adventure recreation and education program through Ohio University’s Campus Recreation. The organization provides students, faculty, staff and the Athens community with many opportunities for healthy outdoor recreational and leadership development activities. It also focuses on experiential learning and environmental awareness. 

Many of the programs provided by Outdoor Pursuits involve immersing oneself into the wilderness of Southeast Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. 

“I would say our mission or goal is to expose people to different opportunities that can hopefully empower them,” Leanne Chapman, a graduate assistant for Outdoor Pursuits, said. “Whether that be through climbing or through trips, the challenge course, renting out gear from us or just simply talking to people and creating those connections, not only with one another but maybe with the community and local natural areas around here.”

The Outdoor Pursuit’s Challenge Program has gained more popularity throughout the semester, and there are four programs in which those interest can partake.

“We have our climbing wall, we have our trips that we run throughout the semester, we have (skills) clinics every now and then, and then we have our Challenge Program,” Chapman said. 

The Challenge Program focuses on team development goals like problem solving, trust, creating a positive work environment, collaboration and effective communication. Some of the challenges are physical while others are mental. 

“The challenge program is for groups,” Caeley Grady, a graduate assistant for Outdoor Pursuits, said. “They don’t have to be students here or professors or faculty. They could be community members or people from Ohio that want to come and want to work on some kind of team building. Typically, these groups have a focus or goal that they come in with, and they’ll let us know prior and then the activities that we do will help them get towards that goal. We can do that through mobile team building games or we have the low ropes course or the high ropes course.”

Due to the still ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Outdoor Pursuits developed a virtual, hour-long team building program as well. 

Along with the Challenge Program, the organization also has high and low rope courses that the public can participate in. High and low ropes courses are meant to enhance communication, build camaraderie and energize the team involved. High rope courses consist of being suspended close to 40 feet in the air while low rope ones are up to 12 feet high. 

Outdoor Pursuits also has zip line and mobile team building opportunities. The zip line is 300 feet long. Mobile team building allows for participants to do team building in any location they desire. This can include Ping Recreation Center or anywhere on or outside of OU’s campus. 

However, it doesn’t matter if one is experienced in these kinds of activities or not.

“For challenge course programming, for any programming that we have, there is no baseline,” Chapman said. “We want (Outdoor Pursuits) to be where anyone can do it, no matter what their experiences. That’s the goal: to introduce people to different things.”

As long as participants make a reservation of at least 10 people, anyone can try the courses Outdoor Pursuits offers. Additionally, Outdoor Pursuits tries to make the prices within a reasonable range for students, with enrolled students paying between $12 and $25 for the programs and non-enrolled participants paying between $15 and $30. 

More than anything, Outdoor Pursuits tries to create opportunities for making friends and building community as well as helping underclassmen become adjusted to OU.

“You build friends,” Grady said. “You find people that you may not have been connected with before. Also, you gain other skills like communication and leadership skills through our things. We also typically do new adventures for our freshmen, and that’s an experience before freshman year starts where they go (to) Minnesota on a canoe trip. They can learn things like communication, teamwork, leadership skills, so they can gain all these different transferable skills that they can use in their everyday lives or in their future.”

The organization is also always accepting new members and is open to those interested, as well as those who may not have experienced much of the outdoors. 

“We’re open to anybody. Anybody can come and join us,” Grady said. “You don’t have to have any prior experience in it. Anybody who signs up for a trip or comes to the climbing wall or rents something, if you don’t know how to use it, we will definitely teach you how to do it. On the trip, we will teach you anything you need to know for that trip.” 

The club has worked to foster new relationships and connections, especially for OU students.

“I’ve started to get to know a lot of the OP staff by going to the wall consistently,” Chris Harmison, a freshman studying music through the Honors Tutorial College, said in an email. “Climbing in general is an easy hobby to make friends in, so when you have the same people belaying you again and again, you make friends fast!”

For those interested in Outdoor Pursuits, the website can be found here.

@grace_koe

gk011320@ohio.edu

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