Students gather atop Hawksbill Crag, a lookout east of Kingston, County Newton.
Over the weekend of November 13-14, University Rerection Outdoors offered a trip to anyone who identifies as Black, Aboriginal, or a Person of Color to the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch and the Buffalo National River Wilderness Area. The goal of UREC Outdoors is to bring more students into the outdoors, a place that often fosters immense personal growth and development.
However, the outdoors are often exclusive due to the high cost of equipment, lack of mentorship, and the general lack of opportunities to go out. Specifically, barriers related to time, money, knowledge, ability and lack of transportation prevent many people from pursuing adventure-oriented recreational activities.
UREC Outdoors has worked to attract more students from underserved communities outside and with the help of the Student Affairs Committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; A BIPOC Rock Climbing Weekend was fully funded for students who identify as black, native or of color.
Students gather around a sign labeled “Cliffs of Insanity,” the name of a climbing site they had just climbed.
A traveling student looks at the camera and smiles as she climbs a cliff.
A travel student searches for his next climbing hold as he climbs the boulder outside.
“It was amazing. We had a lot in common and still learned a lot from each other,” said Jade Romain, a trip participant.
The weekend was full of fun and adventure with many participants enjoying their first rocky climbs outdoors. Participants reported having an increased sense of belonging, an ability to be authentic themselves and an increased sense of community.
In an anonymous post-trip survey, one participant said: “I participated [in the BIPOC Climbing trip] because I wanted to have the chance to meet people who could relate to me on a POC [person of color] level and this trip did just that.
“I was particularly interested in this trip because of its target audience towards the black and brown community. I feel like there isn’t a lot of representation in outdoor activities such as rock climbing and hiking; it’s seen as something for the majority, ”says Tiana Williams. “However, for this group to be only members of the BIPOC community, it was beautiful to see the representation and the joy that these activities can bring to everyone.”
UREC Outdoors seeks to create more opportunities for underserved communities across campus with their travel and activity programs over the coming year. Students interested in adventure programs are encouraged to get involved in UREC Outdoors events, clinics and travel.
The program offers a wide range of opportunities each semester. Please visit the website for a complete list of programs.