When choosing a college, prospective students might only consider activities offered on campus or within a few miles of the dorms. They may not think about the adventures to be had more than an hour away from the school, but as anyone who has joined Wake Forest’s Outdoor Pursuits for a weekend knows, they should.
The student guides of Outdoor Pursuits spend their time planning and leading groups of their peers on weekend hikes, kayaking trips, rock climbing expeditions and other activities designed to get them off campus and deep into the stunning scenery and diverse geography that North Carolina has to offer.
“I think North Carolina has almost everything you could want in a state in terms of the outdoors. You’ve got great rock climbing within 30 minutes to an hour drive, you’ve got the beach four hours away, you’ve got the mountains two hours away,” said Michael Scott (’13), a native North Carolinian who has worked for Outdoor Pursuits, a division of Campus Recreation, since his first year on campus. “A lot of times Wake students come from areas that are very urbanized, and so there’s not a whole lot of woods or mountains or things like that. I think it’s special for them when they come here and realize we have all this around us.”
At Wake Forest, a university that attracts students from all over the country and many parts of the world, it isn’t uncommon for out-of-staters to arrive without any wilderness experience or knowledge of the wildlife and natural settings in this area, said Scott. That’s where Outdoor Pursuits comes in.
The student-driven organization provides knowledgeable (and patient) guides, equipment and accommodations for all of the meticulously planned trips. Guides encourage anyone interested to come along, regardless of their outdoor experience level. This allows the diverse student body to take the types of adventurous trips they might not be able to take at home.
Mike Locicero (’13) joined Outdoor Pursuits for a recent kayaking trip along the Roanoke River, which included a nine-mile trek in the Eastern part of the state and a night out under the stars. He found the weekend to be a far cry from his experiences at home in Long Island, N.Y.
“I’d been wanting to go camping just because I had never really done any kind of serious camping thing,” Locicero said. “It was a lot of fun, it was really great to kind of get away and just be out in the wilderness and sleep outside. Trying something new was the most rewarding thing for me.”
Outdoor Pursuits is a great way for nature enthusiasts to go out and do the things they love to do, but it also gives students from more urban settings an opportunity to get off campus and experience the splendor of North Carolina – all in one weekend.
“My favorite thing is leading the trips and seeing the reaction of people that have never done something like this before. People that have never been white water kayaking or have never been camping and teaching them skills like that, that they’ve never had the opportunity to learn,” explained Scott. “That’s what I love about Outdoor Pursuits.”