Adventure club prepares for upcoming summer activities

By Rhea Riley

Outdoor Adventures is gearing up for its next summer trip to Alaska for a hike up the Harding Icefield Trail.

A facility in the Recreation Center, Outdoor Adventures focuses on outdoor activities that include hiking, backpacking and rock climbing and are available to students, faculty and the DeKalb community. Winter activities, including snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing and ice skating, are also offered.

At least 16 trips a year are organized by Outdoor Adventures. Most day trips average $35, whereas weekend trips average $100 depending on the travel destination and the equipment required. Each trip is budgeted on transportation, living expenses and staff expenses.

“We used to do a lot more trips trying to promote it for students,” said assistant director Christine Lagattolla. “And they all wouldn’t fill and we’d get about 50 percent to go … it was really frustrating.”

The facility was involved in two volunteer trips over spring break. Participants traveled to Memphis, Tenn., and the Chattahoochee River. In Memphis, they helped Living Lands and Waters clean local McKellar Lake. The cost was $375 per student.

Outdoor Adventures has made this year’s list of trips shorter to try and get more students to sign up for activities.

“The feedback from our trips is always really good,” Lagattolla said. “Once you’re willing to try it, we usually get people to return.”

The program’s student employees work as receptionists, in rentals and go on trips. Employees can spend up to 10 hours working to prepare material and equipment for a trip the next day.

“This job has helped me a lot,” said senior sociology major Nathan Tripp. “It gives you a lot of opportunities to build a lot of personal and professional development.”

Tripp is a student manager and team facilitator at the program and has been trained, along with other staff members, to teach survival and outdoor skills on trips and activities.

“Kayaking has been the activity that I want to keep working on,” Tripp said. “A lot of people get to start experiencing backpacking and climbing and hiking. It’s a great opportunity to get outside and try something new.”

Last summer, the program took a trip to the Grand Canyon and traveled to five national parks, including Zion National Park in Utah.

“I had no idea that our [Outdoor Adventures] center sponsored anything like this,” said Allen May, general manager of broadcast news at the Northern Television Center. “You get to learn so many survival skills and experiences you won’t get anywhere else.”

May accompanied the program to the Grand Canyon and is looking forward to attending this year’s Alaska trip.

“Prior to a year ago I didn’t even know we had the Outdoor Adventures center,” May said. “This could be one of the best-kept secrets on campus … . When you have a program that provides something this strong and important everyone should know about it.”