Outdoor program helps students ‘revitalize their mojo’

Weekends in Portland have been dreary at best, but there is sun and adventure galore just a few hours away. Fresh from a weekend spent whitewater-rafting the Klickitat and Deschutes rivers east of the Cascades, Portland State junior Courtney Meadows, a guide for the PSU Outdoor Program, has the sunburned shoulders to prove it.

“Some of my best experiences in college have been with this program,” she says with a smile.

The PSU Outdoor Program, a student-fee-sponsored program headquartered in Smith Memorial Student Union, Room 114, is committed to spreading the word about some of the exciting recreation opportunities available to people who like to challenge themselves. And they want more students to know about them.

“It’s their money,” says Meadows, a certified Wilderness First Responder. “The more students know about it, the more we can do for them.”

The Outdoor Program sponsors and guides mountaineering, rock-climbing and rafting trips to such beautiful and unique Oregon hotspots as Smith Rock, and the Deschutes and North Umpqua rivers. The program also sponsors seminars in outdoor recreation and will put on a Red Cross First Aid and CPR Class on May 10. According to Jon Kanski, a junior from Chicago and an outdoor enthusiast who works for the Outdoor Program leading rock-climbing excursions, it’s also a great way to connect with other outdoor enthusiasts, especially other PSU students.

“When I moved here, this program is how I made connections and met people,” says Kanski, who is also certified as a Wilderness First Responder.

The program is also one of the only entirely student-run outdoor programs in the state.

“It makes for a well-rounded person. It revitalizes your mojo, as far as studying goes,” Kanski said.

Portland State’s Outdoor Program is constantly trying to get the word out about coming attractions and events. The new climbing wall in the Peter W. Stott Center, a campus attraction that the program has been pushing forward for two years with petitions and initiatives, will hopefully start construction in the summer and be done by fall term next year. The indoor area will feature a climbing wall, a traversing wall and an area for bouldering. It will replace one of the handball courts in the Stott Center.

This term, students in an outdoor leadership class are planning a one-week trip as part of their studies. The class members will then take the trip in June.

“Planning and executing a trip is the best way to learn,” Kanski said.

The Outdoor Program is working to get more curriculum-based activities put in the schedule.

The Outdoor Program has a large stock of outdoor equipment for rent, including white-water rafts and both backcountry and cross-country skiing packages. The prices are very reasonable, too, says Meadows. A backcountry ski package that includes edged skis, boots and collapsible poles costs $15 for a PSU student to rent for the weekend. A comparable package at a local store costs about $30. Avalanche beacon rentals, at $10 per weekend, are much cheaper than buying your own for $250.

“We’re pretty flexible. We’re here for students and young people strapped for cash,” Kanski said.

The Red Cross First Aid and CPR class on May 10 still has about a dozen openings and costs $27. May 17 and 18, the Outdoor Program is also leading a rock and raft trip to the Deschutes River and Horse Thief Butte. The weekend trip costs $60 for students, and openings are still available.

Thanks to the ODP, Portland State is also one of two Oregon universities hosting the Elements of Adrenaline Film Festival, a free showing of three films by three of the best action-sports filmmakers in the business. The films, featuring BASE jumping, extreme whitewater kayaking and alpine mountaineering will be shown in Smith Union, Room 296, at 7 p.m. Friday, May 9.

If you want to revitalize your mojo, have questions about the show, registering for the CPR class, ODP trips or any other questions about the PSU Outdoor Program, go online to www.odp.pdx.edu, call the ODP at 503-725-5668 or e-mail the program at [email protected]