Pilot Program Seeks to get MSU Students Outdoors

by: BRETT MARSHALL, CSU Public Relations Assistant

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Maverick Adventures operated its first pilot program last fall and has big aspirations to grow outdoor leisure and activity programs in the coming years for MSU students.

Small Beginnings

In the short-term, the program is designed to provide students with semesterly activities that take place outdoors such as guided hiking tours at state parks, snowshoeing, bike rides, campfire cooking, outdoor yoga and a few other smaller activities.

During the Fall semester, Maverick Adventures hosted three events: Just Another Dam Bike Ride, an outdoor cooking class and a guided hike at Minneopa State Park (video recaps for those events can be found by following the corresponding links above).

The organization plans to host three more events in the spring semester: Snoeshoeing, “Snow-ga” and a cave exploration trip to Crystal Cave in Spring Valley, Wisc.

Dates for those events have yet to be determined, but students interested in them can get updates by joining the Maverick Adventures Facebook groupwatching for advertisements in the campus recreation facilities and by following campus recreation social media.

Big Aspirations

The long-term vision seeks to offer much more to students. Sam Steiger, Program Coordinator for the Adventure Education Program & Climbing Walls, offered some ideas of where the Maverick Adventure program could go.

“Imagine a rental center with equipment available to rent, maybe expensive gear like a kayak or bike, but also the weekend essentials for the Maverick lifestyle: bean bag sets and solar panels to charge a device,” he said. “We want to offer equipment that many students will use for year-round activities. Imagine the ability to sign-up to go on a trip for the weekend and meet new people and try a new activity like rock climbing, canoeing or caving.”

No Dream Comes Without Challenges

Steiger says the biggest problems hindering the program from growing right now are staffing, storage space and funding.

“We need trained staff to lead these events and would have to purchase the various equipment,” he said.

Steiger also pondered costs and storage locations, “Where would a rental center be located for student convenience and how can we offer trips that are well designed, managed for risk and cost effective for students?”

He said discussions about those things have been ongoing for the last five years and that MSU administration, as well as Student Government, continues to look for solutions. The pilot program introduced last fall was the first big step toward bringing Maverick Adventures to its full capacity because it introduced many students to things that may haven’t tried before.

“For some students, participating in our pilot programs may have been the very first time they have experienced/done anything like biking, hiking and snowshoeing. It provided an opportunity for them to connect with other students across campus and form friendships by meeting people they may have never met otherwise,” he said.

Success Drives Progress

Steiger hopes the continued success of the Maverick Adventures’ pilot programs helps students become more familiar with and excited by the outdoors.

“This exposure can be a catalyst for students to discover something that are passionate about which leads to a lifelong pursuit of new hobby or skillset. The outdoors is relaxing to many and providing outdoor activities helps to keep our campus healthy in both mental, emotional and physical ways,” he said.

There’s no timetable for when Maverick Adventures will reach fruition, but Steiger says continued student support and involvement could accelerate progress.

“Many students find the topic exciting, so we continue to advocate for where we would like to see the program build to in the future. We keep spreading the word. If this topic got your attention, we want to talk to you,” he said.

Students looking to add their input to the program can do so by attending the Maverick Adventures AdHoc committee meetings Tuesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Nickerson Conference Room (CSU 238). More information can also be obtained by contacting Steiger by email: samuel.steiger@mnsu.edu or by contacting his Graduate Assistant, Elliott Floyd, at thomas.floyd@mnsu.edu.

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