An hour away from Southern Utah University in a canyon just aside the small town of Veyo, Utah, a rock wall rises vertically from a bed of aspen trees.
One morning before school started, a group of incoming Southern Utah University freshmen hiked in, set down their backpacks and looked up at the formidable wall.
“Do we go all the way to the top?” Nicole Allegre, a freshman studying nursing, asked.
“We go all the way to the top,” said the Adventure Orientation Leader.
And with the help of ropes, harnesses, climbing shoes and helmets in place, the first climber made it all the way to the top.
“The rush you get when we reached the top after the difficult climb can’t be explained,” said Allegre. “Your muscles ache, your heart is racing and you’re excited that you just accomplished something that difficult.”
This excursion to Veyo was in concert with Freshmen Orientation, a new type of program implemented for new T-Birds—Adventure Orientation. 40 students took to the mountains to hike, climb, canyoneer and explore in four overnight trips planned by SUU Outdoor Center and the Outdoor Engagement Center.
Briget Eastep, director of the Outdoor Engagement Center, said of the reason Adventure Orientation was created, “This was designed specifically to have freshmen create a shared experiences and social bonds with other students with the same interests. When you spend three days in the wilderness with nine other students you create friendships you couldn’t anywhere else.”
As soon as freshmen set foot on campus, they were whisked off for three days to either climbing in Veyo, Utah, canyoneering in Zion National Park, backpacking in Bryce Canyon or exploring in Dixie National Forest. This wasn’t just a chance for students to discover the natural world surrounding Cedar City, Adventure Orientation has alternative motive for its participants.
“This was my first chance to explore the surrounding and meet students with the same hobbies as me, some of my new best friends I met on this trip,” said Allegre. “We bonded over climbing and cracking jokes in the tent, it was an over all great way to make friends and play outside. I am so happy I did this.”
Eastep mirrored Allegre’s comments and went on to say that another purpose of Adventure Orientation is to have students continue to engage themselves with the University and with the many outdoor opportunities that lay only minutes away from campus.
She said, “Students need to know that you don’t have to be an expert to go hiking, Adventure Orientation gets them comfortable doing activities outside and from then on they are addicted to the outdoors and begin championing their own outdoor excursions.”
The Outdoor Engagement Center, Student Involvement and Leadership and the Pacesetters Outdoor Leadership Program organized Adventure Orientations.
The Outdoor Engagement Center, located in the Sharwan Smith Student Center, is dedicated to promoting a lifelong love of the outdoors within all students and employees at SUU. From outdoor activities such as hiking or stargazing to information about internships in state and national parks, the Outdoor Engagement Center is helping the SUU community engage in the outdoors.