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Campus Recreation Offers Ways to Enjoy the Outdoors

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A group of 13 from UTHSC took part in a recent hike through Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park with Campus Recreation.

An interest in an active lifestyle is key to enjoying the outdoors. To help faculty, staff and students enjoy the outdoors, equipment for UTHSC’s Outdoor Recreation program was completely upgraded in 2015, thanks to funding by the Student Government Association Executive Council. Equipment rentals range from tents and backpacks to paddle boards and wetsuits. 

Along with equipment, Outdoor Recreation is offering a variety of activities, including whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing and hiking this summer.

“Outdoor recreation is a great way to stay connected with our natural environment,” said Erin Jennings, MA, MFA, aquatics and outdoor recreation coordinator. “The UTHSC Outdoor Recreation program provides support for mental health and physical health via outdoor activity. It connects the UTHSC student, faculty and staff population with local wilderness areas, and it supports stewardship of our local environment.”

Through partnerships with the Wolf River Conservancy, a non-profit dedicated to protecting the Wolf River, and with Endless River Adventures, a company specializing in paddling and adventure vacations, Campus Recreation members can take advantage of several discounts being offered, including a 10 percent discount on whitewater rafting in the Nantahala and Cheoah Rivers located in North Carolina, and the Ocoee River in East Tennessee.

Students can benefit from the free equipment rentals. Faculty or staff who become members of the Wolf River Conservancy will also be able to rent a canoe or kayak free from Campus Recreation for any Wolf River Conservancy paddle event. The paddle events are designed to foster better appreciation of the natural habitat impacted by the Wolf River.

Hike participants walk along a trail at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park.

Campus Recreation also offers guided hikes through the many nature trails around Memphis. Always looking for new ways to work out and stay fit, Crystal Walker, PhD, MSN-CNL, RN, assistant professor in the College of Nursing, said hiking was something she never tried because she was unaware that there are hiking trails so close to the city. Recently, she and 12 other participants from UTHSC, hiked through the Chickasaw Bluff Trail and the Woodlands Trail at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park.

“When I heard that the Campus Rec program was offering a 9-mile hike, I immediately started asking questions and buying everything I needed for the hike. I love being outdoors and meeting new people, so the hike just seemed like the perfect opportunity to do both,” Dr. Walker said. “I hope to encourage others to step outside their comfort zones.”

Rhalmil Mathews, administrative assistant in the Department of Dental Hygiene, who also went on the hike said, “Outdoor activities have benefited me by promoting a more relaxed work and personal life.”

Campus Recreation encourages healthy lifestyles, fosters leadership development, instills an appreciation for diversity, and enhances interpersonal relationships, while providing the foundation for lifelong exploration and development of the mind and body through innovative, quality programs and services. For more information on how to get involved with Campus Recreation’s outdoor activities, contact Erin Jennings, aquatics and outdoor recreation coordinator, at erinjennings@uthsc.edu.