Adventure Trips back in action

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  • After unexpectedly ending in May of 2022, Adventure Trips resume this spring with opportunities for students to go backpacking, climbing, skiing and more. The program plans to take students on a ski trip to the Mines of Spain near Dubuque this year, a favorite destination from years past.

  • Last year, when the program operated under UNI Outdoors, Adventure Trips took a group of students to the Buffalo River in Arkansas for canoeing and hiking. This year, the rejuvenated program will take students as far as the Red River Gorge in Kentucky.

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Outdoor recreation trip opportunities return under new department

The Adventure Trips program which offers students the opportunity to experience America’s backcountry through coordinated trips is now being run through the College of Education under the Department of Health, Recreation & Community Services (HRCS). 

The original program ended in May 2022, as reported by the Northern Iowan in the article “Adventure Trips meets abrupt end,” published on Sept. 19, 2022. 

Drew Abrams, an HRCS graduate assistant, was instrumental in developing a pathway for outdoor adventure trips to be integrated within an academic program with a goal of getting the Adventures Program back to running at its full capacity.

“It’s been awesome working with the College of Ed. A lot of professors and department heads have been super supportive in getting this to happen and have really helped us out which is awesome to see,” Abrams said.

Kathleen Scholl, the Department Head for HRCS who has over 20 years of experience in wilderness education is aware of the professional and career development that Adventure Trips opportunities provide. She was empathetic to student concerns about the loss of the Adventure Trips program and decided to take action.

“At the very least, I wanted those students immersed in their academic programs to get the career development opportunity they were expecting,” Scholl said. “This semester, we are piloting the outdoor trips to identify avenues to increase outdoor leadership opportunities within an academic program.”

Colleen Mulholland, Dean for the College of Education, listened to student concerns about the loss of the Adventure Trips program and was also incredibly supportive of bringing the Adventure Trips program back to its former glory.

“She has really been our knight in shining armor. I cannot understate how meaningful it is that a dean really cares about [the Adventure Trips program],” Abrams said.

As of now, the program is being tested to see how it can eventually be integrated into the academic curriculum. 

“As we [UNI] work to increase enrollment and transition the Adventure Trips program  into an academic adventure leadership training program, I see the potential of a small and mighty program,” Scholl said.

According to Abrams, the trips look the same as they did when they ran under UNI Outdoors. The only difference students will notice is that to sign up for trips they must sign up on the College of Education website. During this pilot period, trips are only available to UNI students  through the HRCS department. Eight trips are scheduled for this winter and spring.

“We have a nice mix of climbing, backpacking, cross-country skiing and ice climbing,” Abrams said. “We are going as far off as the Red River Gorge in Kentucky and out to the Needles of Rushmore, which is a rock climbing destination directly behind Mount Rushmore. We have backpacking in Yellow State Forest which is kind of just down the road and we’re going to do some cross-country skiing in Dubuque by the Mines of Spain. We have a little bit for everyone which is really nice.”

Abrams emphasizes the benefits of getting involved with these trips, and their strong community.

“We stand with each other through thick and thin in the backcountry, which is tough sometimes, but we get through it and grow through it which puts so much meaning into the college experience,” Abrams continued. “You can get through college just by going to classes and going back to your dorm. But by going on these trips you really do find so much meaning in what you are doing.”

To sign up for an Adventure Trip this semester, visit