Brenna Dill, a senior majoring in outdoor recreation and management, walked into the Outdoor Recreation Center asking about internships and suddenly found herself organizing events for a new Winter UP program initiative. The program is trying to encourage students to embrace the snowy outdoors, something Dill is more than willing to advocate for.
“Basically what I’ve been doing is helping come up with some ideas for hikes and our Survival Series… and scavenger hunts where we get students out to go see different parts of Marquette that they might not have,” Dill said. “I know when I first came here as a transfer student I had no idea where anything was around town and that would have been super helpful.”
The Winter UP series, which lasts from Jan. 22 to March 15, also includes activities like guided hikes, self guided adventures and special events aimed to teach and inform students about winter activities in Marquette. Students can RSVP for and learn more about these specific events on The Hub.
Housing and Residence Life, the Outdoor Recreation Center and the Center for Student Enrichment teamed up over break with ASNMU to design these events aimed at getting students outside, said Katie Moe, campus recreation and fitness manager for the NMU Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Sports department.
“What we really started looking at over the break was really assessing what we did last semester for everyone and the impact it had on individuals,” Moe said. “We really wanted to make an initiative for students to get outside and obviously moving is important in general just for overall health, but because we don’t have a spring break this year, we definitely needed to make sure that we were able to offer students opportunities to participate safely in fun special events.”
At each event, students will be provided with a QR code that they can scan on The Hub to earn points. Every student who attends at least five events will receive a free T-shirt and will be entered into a prize drawing. According to the email sent on Jan. 25 by the Center for Student Enrichment, prizes include a kayak and paddles, two longboards, two NMU parking passes, five Yeti Lowball cups, 3 Yeti Colster cups, a mountain bike, an inflatable paddleboard and two Osprey backpacks. All prizes are also exchangeable for equal value at Downwind Sports.
While faculty, staff and other Marquette community members are not eligible to win the prizes, they are still welcome to participate in all of the Winter UP events.
“Not having spring break is not only a bummer for the students but it is also a bummer for faculty and staff at the university. It always allowed us a time to pause and regroup a little bit so I think that initiative, while we are focusing a lot on the students, we are also focusing on the NMU community as a whole,” Moe said.
The community is also welcome to join in the fun virtually through educational workshops on Zoom every Thursday. The Outdoor Survival Workshop Series will focus on a different aspect of the outdoors and how to be safe in different weather conditions.
“One [workshop] that we came up with is called ‘She Poops’ and it is all about hygiene in the outdoors … because not a lot of people know what to do and not a lot of them know about digging holes and that sort of thing,” Moe said.
Winter UP events will also show people how to be more comfortable with certain outdoor activities so they can then go out on their own.
For example, if someone is not comfortable cross country skiing, there will be an Outdoor Survival Series lecture on cross country skiing. The following two days will offer guided cross country skiing adventures with equipment and instructors to show them the ropes, said Moe.
These kinds of outdoor activities not only provide students with the opportunity to learn new skills and take a break from studying indoors, but they are a great way to meet new people and friends in a COVID-19 safe environment.
“It is just really important to get outside right now so that we are not cooped up all winter. Normally, you can be cooped up all winter because you can see your friends. You can do stuff with your friends and still be inside, but now if you want to see your friends you have to take extra precautions,” Dill said. “Having these guided hikes and scavenger hunts where you are outside doing things is a great way to see your friends, get outside and be more active in the winter. It is great for physical health and mental health as well.”
Moe also encourages students to get outside and enjoy the wintery beauty of Marquette while it is here.
“I think a lot of people forget that they only have a certain amount of time here and not everybody gets to stay in Marquette,” Moe said. “People come to Marquette and the Upper Peninsula from around the world to experience this, and if students could really embrace the opportunities that we have and the partnership that we have with the NTN and are able to get all this equipment for free, it is huge.”