Life in the outdoor lane

Oct 192005
Authors: Ryan Fedel

Sick of sitting on the couch?

Joel Thomas, a business finance student at CSU, thinks Colorado is one of the best states for people who are interested in the outdoors.

"Definitely one of the top. I do a lot of backpacking, some climbing – a lot of outdoor stuff. Colorado is a great place," Thomas said.

The Outdoor Adventure Program is run by Rodney Ley, an assistant director in Campus Recreation, and is a good way for individuals to get an interduction to the Colorado outdoors. The program offers classes, seminars and events related to outdoor activities.

"A good example is we hosted 10 or 11 sections of outdoor stuff this semester. Rock climbing, map and compass, backcountry cooking – it's in the campus recreation guide, a pretty good selection," Ley said. "There is no ordinary day around here. It's like a little bit of everything, sharpening ice tools or putting on movies."

Most of the classes offered by the program follow an experiential learning model, Ley said. This model breaks down into 10 percent talking about a topic, 10 percent demonstration of the topic and 80 percent hands-on practice. This model is designed to meet the goals of the program.

"There are two goals that I take equally seriously," Ley said. "One is to get younger students, you know freshman and sophomore students, fired up about the Colorado outdoors in a safe way. The other is to open everyone's eyes, whether they enjoy the outdoors or not, to the power of the outdoors."

The program generally focuses on newcomers. Classes are designed to give individuals a foundation of information they can build on as they gain experience in outdoor activity. Also offered are several intermediate classes, which help refine skills that students already have. According to the Fall 2005 Campus Recreation Guide, each class has its own individual rating that helps participants decide if it is right for them. The rating is based on an "A, B, C" scale with "A" requiring no prior knowledge of the subject, and "C" requiring some practice in the field.

Thomas has considered taking a class in order to better some skills he already has.

"I have done some kayaking but I want to take a class to get better," he said. "(The program) looks pretty nice. I have not taken a class but from what I have seen it looks good."

While most of the classes are geared towards novices, the Outdoor Adventure Program also has lots to offer more experienced individuals.

"Every fleet needs to have a flagship," Ley said. "We offer international mountaineering trips so we are going to Ecuador over Christmas and we are going to climb three huge volcanoes. I mean they are 18 to 20 thousand feet high and that is not beginner stuff."

Another more advanced class offered by the program is the Wilderness First Responder, which focuses on outdoor first-aid and will be held from Jan. 3 to 12.

"It's wilderness oriented. They don't talk about things like household poisoning and childbirth, these things don't happen in the wilderness or shouldn't," Ley said. "It culminates in a night time scenario where you have to pull off a medical emergency evacuation."

The wilderness outdoor class is very intense, Ley said. It is about 80 hours with day and nighttime sessions. The class is a big commitment but, "People are pretty psyched when they are done with it," he said.

All of the classes are fairly small.

"I am a really strong believer in a low student-to-instructor ratio. On our technical classes we are four to one, so four students per instructor. On our basic hiking classes we like with stay to eight to one," Ley said.

According to the Campus Recreation Guide, an upcoming Outdoor Adventure Program event is a winter safety clinic, "Get Ready for Winter." The workshop will be held Tuesday, November 15 in the Student Recreation Center Lounge and is free of cost. This class will cover winter safety, including hypothermia and frostbite warning sings and treatment. Places to cross-county ski and snowshoe as well as recommended equipment for these activates will be part of the discussion.

Another upcoming class is the free Avalanche Awareness Clinic which will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 29 in the Student Recreation Center lounge. The presentation is, according to Ley, a three part discussion covering what are avalanches, what causes them, warning sings and what to do if caught in an avalanche.

Anyone interested in a class offered by the Outdoor Adventure Program should look though the Camps Recreation Guide, which is available at the Student Recreation Center. When singing up for a class people should call the service desk at 491-6359 and press 0. If there are any questions about a session, individuals should contact Rodney Ley at 491-0964.

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