Outing Center offers a getaway for students

By Melissa Mastrogiovanni

As the stresses of tests, papers, work, and heightened security begin taking a toll on faculty and students, some decide to cut off communication and reconnect with nature for a weekend.

The NIU Outing Center offers numerous opportunities to go on weekend trips that involve camping, rock-climbing, canoeing, caving, or even backpacking. However, even the average inexperienced adventurer can enjoy these trips.

“We gear all of the trips that we do from a beginner point of view and we make sure that each participant is having a good time to their ability,” said backpacking team leader Nick Skuban, also a student. “From trip to trip we have specific employees that, on their own, tend to know more about rock climbing, or more about canoeing, or more about caving and we have those leaders lead those trips.”

Skuban said that although the Outing Center provides the equipment and has a budget, a majority of the costs for each trip comes from the fees charged to participants.

“When a participant comes in and pays, that fee is covering the food that’s going to be involved with the trip, the equipment that is going to be required,” he said. “It’s paying for the staff that’s going to be going along with to guide it. And it’s also paying for transportation.”

However, most participants still agreed that even with the additional fee, the cost of the trips are still affordable.

The groups are able to meet new people and experience various forms of outdoor recreation.

Skuban said that the groups really vary from trip to trip. However, a lot of international students utilize the Outing Center as a way to see the United States.

“A lot of people came not knowing anybody, but everybody was really open-minded and friendly,” said NIU student Stephanie Van Autreve. “The leaders are awesome. You can tell that they’ve had a lot of experience in outdoor activities and that they like what they do. They all are super approachable, if you were hesitant about what you’re doing or had any questions.”

The Outing Center also attracts non-students as well.

Jenny LaBash, a Kishwaukee College English teacher, learned about the NIU Outing Center through her yoga instructor. After a hectic and stressful week at school, LaBash decided she just needed to get away.

“As you get older it’s harder for people to do outdoorsy and kind of active stuff and this seemed like an easy way to be with a bunch of people who like the same things that I like to do,” LaBash said.

The Outing Center staff encourages those interested in going on a trip or planning one to feel free to come by and get more information or rent gear.

“Stop on by the Outing Center. It’s a real cool place to find and meet new people. We’re always really friendly and every single trip is a blast,” Skuban said.


EDITOR’S NOTE: When this article was orginally published on Oct. 27 there was a quote saying the Outing Center did not receive funding from NIU or the Rec Center. This was incorrect information and the quote has since been removed from this article.