Blazing the trail

Blazing the trail

Students lace up hiking boots, strap on backpacks for another year of outdoor exploration with UNI Outdoor Adventures

From the heights of Pictured Rocks to the depths of the Grand Canyon, the UNI Outdoors Adventures trips are back in action, offering student-led trips to help students experience the outdoors. 

Courtney Johnson, the Graduate Assistant for the Department of Health Recreation & Community Services’ (HRCS) Outdoors Adventures program, is looking forward to the many trips planned for this semester. While some of their trips have already sold out, Johnson encourages students to sign up for their remaining trips on the College of Education’s website under the “Health, Recreation, & Community Services” tab.

Lee Beauchamp, a student coordinator for UNI Outdoors Adventures, emphasizes the uniqueness of these trips and how special they are to the student community.

Students pose for a photo by a waterfall on a UNI Outdoor Adventures trip. Students interested in getting involved with Outdoor Adventures can sign up for trips on their website on the College of Education website. (JACOB KURT)

“It really does help students understand who they are, especially in an environment where technology is removed and you’re back to basically primitive devices and just taking care of yourself,” Beauchamp said. “It can really lead someone to discover a part of themselves that they’ve never discovered. It’s just you and your group and the wilderness.”

Johnson also noted the importance of the UNI Outdoors Adventures program, reflecting upon the impact these trips have had on her life and career trajectory.

“I was during my undergrad here at UNI as a math teaching major, and I changed to environmental science because of my first trip,” Johnson said. “Now I’m here for grad school, running the trips.”

From climbing, cross country skiing, rock climbing and backpacking, UNI Outdoors Adventures offers a wide range of activities, locations and experiences for students. Johnson is most looking forward to the trip to the Grand Canyon over Thanksgiving Break. 

“I’m very excited to see how we work as a team. but I’m also very excited to see how the participants really enjoy it. There are some breathtaking views we’ll see. One of the biggest challenges with the Grand Canyon is coming back out—it’s really hard on those calves. So I’m very excited to see how we push through.”

Take a chance. Being at college is the place to try new things you never had access to.

— Lee Beauchamp, Outdoor Adventures Coordinator

Beauchamp also reflected on the impact the Grand Canyon trip has on students.

“It really challenges you in a way that you’ve never been challenged before,” Beauchamp said. “It takes you out of your comfort zone and it makes you realize some things that you may have not experienced before. It really does help people grow. I’m excited to see when those participants come back, how their knowledge that they’ve gained from that trip can translate into the front country and how they grow as a person.”

For students who are hesitant to join, Johnson encourages them to reach out as the trip coordinators strive to create a supportive, welcoming environment for all. 

“If students are more nervous about the logistics of things like, ‘how are we getting there?’ coordinators put all of that work in, and if they ever have questions, we have an email at  that they can always email. For someone who may be hesitant about a trip, I say just go for it.”

Beauchamp also encourages students to step outside of their comfort zone into the outdoors.

“Take a chance,” Beauchamp said. “Being at college is the place to try new things you never had access to. It can really push you in a different direction that you never thought of. A saying that I’ve been thinking about in the back of my head recently is that ‘when you’re afraid to jump, that is the time to jump.’ Don’t be afraid to take on new experiences because that’s when you truly know yourself.”

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