by Stephen Shannon
Some people might immediately be turned off by the idea of going outside, or maybe the word “adventure” is a bit intimidating to some. And that is perfectly understandable. We have much in common. When I was growing up, my favorite hobby was reading, so I rarely took advantage of anything outdoors. That all changed when I joined the Boy Scouts of America, where I experienced everything from kayaking/canoeing, camping, backpacking, and numerous adventure trips.
I never would have imagined being the avid outdoorsman that I am today, if it weren’t for that simple step from inside my comfort zone, out into the unknown world.
I’ll never forget my very first weeklong excursion canoeing on the Tomoka River, with nothing but my backpack and my troop. Since then, it has been one of my greatest joys to see people try something exciting, and yes, adventurous, for the first time.
And that brings me to the point of this article. When I first stepped foot onto UCF’s main campus, I almost immediately found out about the Outdoor Adventure’s Club at UCF. Here, you can try your hand in one of many activities ranging from overcoming your fear of heights on the 42-foot tall indoor rock-climbing pillar, to stretching your limits during one of our Outdoor Adventure Trips. Individuals of all levels of experience and background are welcome. There’s something for everyone.
Perhaps you are one of many who would love to learn how to surf. Or maybe you find your enjoyment in letting your inner-monkey go, and ascend up a challenging obstacle course, or zoom at the speed of sound down a zip line. Did you know you could actually do all of these things, and more, through a group right here on campus? I certainly didn’t at first.
Located on the first floor of the RWC (Recreation and Wellness Center) on UCF’s main campus, Outdoor Adventure is a program which is comprised of five key areas: Adventure Trips, The Challenge Course, Equipment Rentals, Climbing Tower, and Lake Claire. The idea is “to encourage personal growth, social interaction skills and cultivate leaders through engaging and challenging outdoor adventure pursuits”(Actual mission statement). Students are encouraged to actively explore and appreciate the world in which they live, and the Outdoor Adventure program makes this idea a reality.
Whether you’re looking to embark on a one day excursion such as kayaking or something as low-key as learning how to surf in Cape Canaveral, or are looking for a more intensive experience such as a 3 day canoeing/camping expedition exploring the beautiful Ocklawaha River, there is an adventure trip geared just for you. The coolest thing is, you don’t need to be a guru in anything outdoors, to be a part of these outings. Beginners are encouraged to participate, as everyone works together as a team to ensure all has an exciting and memorable experience. Just come as you are, and be prepared to have a blast. Even if you’ve never set foot outside of civilization, you might find this to be your newest obsession. Fascination with the outdoors can really be contagious.
The Challenge Course
Some would contend that one of the greatest experiences you could ever have is the thrill of hanging by a thread (rope) 45 feet off the ground. And arguably one of the greatest components of the Outdoor Adventures Program is that of the Challenge course. Participants are literally challenged, both physically and mentally as they navigate their way through various obstacles, mazes and intensive elements.
High Elements: For the thrill-seeking, borderline daredevil, there are high elements ranging from 25-45 ft off the ground. The course, known as the Odyssey III, is a dual level track that stretches nearly 350 feet long, and 45 feet wide, and includes not one, but two zip lines for your adrenaline–craving delight.
Low Elements: If that seems to intimidating, there are other alternatives, such as the additional 11 low rope elements for those less comfortable with the whole “heights thing.” I put myself in that group. Teamwork and trust are developed, which are two key characteristics essential in outdoor adventure. Participants are challenged physically and mentally and need to develop problem-solving skills, and are required to communicate and execute solutions on the fly.
At designated times, you can utilize the Odyssey Challenge course. Just have your UCF ID handy, and put on your game face.
Speaking of all these heights and climbing and such…if you have ever been to the RWC at UCF, you would definitely have spotted the not so tiny 41-ft indoor rock-climbing tower. Climbers, learn how to “belay.” This means safely climbing with a rope and harness secured to your body, as you navigate your way up any one of 20 routes ranging in difficulty from “climbing a ladder” to “climbing Mt. Rushmore.” Some utilize this feature as a well-rounded supplement to their workout routine. And indeed, you will find your forearms and hind legs to be quite taxed as you journey your way up the pillar. After climbing all the way to the top, and, in spite of a major fear of heights…looking down and letting go is therapeutic.
Furthermore, for the more competitively minded, there is even a competitive UCF climbing team. If you think you’re the next best thing, you may consider getting involved with this traveling team, which is one of the best in all of Florida, with rewards and recognitions to show for it.
You might be saying to yourself, “This all sounds like oh so much fun, but I just don’t have any of the equipment, all I have is my school backpack.” Say no more. Lake Claire is here for you. The heart of the Outdoor Adventure Club, Lake Claire offers students the ability to rent absolutely everything adventure, from camping equipment including propane stoves, and tents, to even canoes/kayaks and paddles. They’ve got you covered, and I mean completely. In addition, they have a wealth of literature providing essential information on destinations all across the state of Florida. Everything you need to embark on your own excursion, every resource, at the mercy of your fingertips. The best part is the absolute fair prices for things…we’re talking under $100/weekend for everything. Mind Blowing.
Lake Claire has a ready, willing, and highly experienced staff to help answer any questions you may have in regards to upcoming trips, offering expertise on choosing the right equipment for the right application, and practical advice on how to make the most out of your outdoor experience.
All in all, The Outdoor Adventure program is suited for absolutely anyone who has even the slightest hankering for adventure. Every outing they host is geared toward the aspiring outdoorsman, from surfing to fishing, camping to climbing. The easiest way to get involved is simply by going to Lake Claire, located on the first floor of the RWC (Recreation and Wellness Center) on UCF’s main campus. You can easily get involved, just head over there and ask about their upcoming events and excursions. You might discover a very different side to yourself. You might find you were born to be wild.