NMU Outdoor Rec. Center still growing

sarah.oneill

On a fall day in Marquette, a walk through the colorful leaves is something a student often does to relax after a hard day of studying. This semester the Outdoor Recreation Center (ORC) is hoping to make that option a little easier with their new Saturday Morning Hiking Series.

The hikes will take place two Saturdays a month starting on Sept. 20 and going through the first Saturday in November. During each session, employees will guide students on hikes to some of the area’s more scenic sites such as Little Presque Isle and Carp River Falls.

Ben Maher, a senior management major, serves as the ORC rental and trips manager, and it was Maher’s idea to start the series. He said it is based on last semester’s Saturday Morning Snowshoeing.

“I figured it would be a good thing to do to introduce people to great hiking spots,” Maher said.

The hikes are available to all students but mainly geared toward those who are unfamiliar with the area and would like to see more, Maher said. Minimum skill level is required for the hikes.

When proposing new types of events, the ORC focuses mainly on what the students want, said Associate Director of Programming at the PEIF, Brian Gaudreau. Surveys are done to see what type of events students would like to participant in. He said the success of the new hiking series will depend on a number of different things.

“The Snowshoe Series did well which is what this (the hiking series) is based on,” Gaudreau said. “But a lot of it will depend on the weather and things you can’t control, as well as getting the word out.”

In fact, the series is only one of the steps the ORC is taking to increase involvement.

Amanda Boshell is a senior physical geography major and ORC student climbing wall manager. She said the group’s past problems with lack of participation had to do with difficulties getting the word out.

“A lot of what the group struggles with is being such a small office in the Rec. Sports Department,” Boshell said.

“We haven’t been very active with publicity, but we’re trying to change that,” she added.

Although it’s hit or miss with the number of participants, the ORC has grown throughout the two years she has been employed there, Boshell said.

“We’ve grown a lot with organization around the office, and getting a lot of different programs offered,” Boshell said.

In addition to the climbing wall which has generated 140 participants this semester, the programs offered by the ORC have expanded to include other activities such as the upcoming REEL Rock Film Tour and the snowshoe and hiking series.

According to Boshell, the ORC also holds climbing and bouldering competitions which receive sponsorship from local businesses such as Down Wind Sports, and major outdoor manufacturers like Mountain Hardwear.

Gaudreau said he agrees that the growth of the ORC in both overall participation and number of events has been inconsistent, but he feels students have a lot to benefit from becoming involved.

“Students get the opportunity to try something they’ve never tried before. And if you sign up and become part of a group you don’t know, I guarantee you will know people by the end. A lot of it is the social aspect,” Gaudreau said.

Besides being social, the program promotes self confidence, discipline and a work ethic that will help students with any career they choose in the future.

“There’s a lot of attention to detail, a lot of gear that has to be put on correctly,” Boshell said. “If I were a boss in the real world, I would hire these people (who participate in ORC activities).”

The surroundings of Marquette are much of the reason the ORC is able to offer students such opportunities, Maher said.

For students contemplating what college to go to, the environment at NMU is often a deciding factor when students make their decision.

Drew Brodhead, founder of the Climbing Club at NMU, said much of the reason he chose NMU was due to the environment and outdoor recreation. Originally from Harbor Springs, he spent his freshman year at Grand Valley State before deciding to come to Northern.

“Being in the big city was OK,” Brodhead said, “But it took away a lot of what I grew up with.”

Sierra Dux, a junior at NMU and a Marquette native, said one of the things that keeps her here is the great opportunity for outdoor recreation. After spending three years in Truckey, Calif., the U.P. scenery is what brought her back.

“The variety of activities that I get to do now is great: mountain biking, rock climbing and of course Lake Superior,” Dux said. “There’s a lot of opportunity that the ORC provides to do these things.”