Escape from social media, power down your phones, and get ready to reconnect to the great outdoors with Sonoma State’s Outdoor Pursuits program. Since its start as a volunteer-based club in the early 90s, the program consists of students, faculty, and staff who have a common love for nature and a desire to share it with others. With its ever growing student interest, Outdoor Pursuits has become a part of the Adventure Programs at SSU’s Recreation Center with a full time staff member that leads the other managers, programmers, and trip leaders. Even though Outdoor Pursuits started out with volunteers and now has paid staff that does not lessen the passion each member has for the program and its purpose. These staff members are dedicated to getting the SSU community reintroduced to the beautiful, natural surroundings we are so lucky to be near.
“Living in Northern California offers so many great opportunities for going outdoors and our purpose is to connect students on campus with those opportunities,” said senior Lauren Smith. Smith first got involved with the program when she was a freshman, going on a backpacking trip to Big Sur. Spending most of her childhood backpacking, Smith enjoyed sharing her knowledge with others as well as seeing how some developed a newfound hobby because of that trip. Now a co-programmer with the program, “seeing how that one trip changed people’s frame of mine made me want to do it as well.”
Outdoor Pursuits not only acts as a gateway to adventure but a true connecter between people; particularly great for those who are either new to the area or are in need of finding a community on campus, such as freshman and foreign exchange students.
For the upcoming semester, Outdoor Pursuits has a couple of trips per week varying from day hikes to backpacking to kayaking. With these countless opportunities for adventure, Smith had a difficult time deciding her favorite trip. However one did stick out: a backpacking trip to Tuolumne Meadows, inside of Yosemite. Yosemite is her favorite place to explore and it was also her first time leading a trip. Smith loved how, as a trip leader, she was able to show others how she discovered her love for the outdoors, where hidden gems were inside the meadows, and help facilitate communication and bonds between the participants and to give them knowledge about the area they will be calling home while at Sonoma State.
The program does have a few future goals in order to better themselves as well as the experiences they offer the students. Smith said they do want to add fishing trips but, on a bigger scale, they want to collaborate with other clubs and organizations on campus such as Residential Life and the Hub. Intertwining this program with student life would give everyone involved a chance to appreciate nature together and to have an open, safe place for discussions as well.
Outdoor Pursuits has a packed schedule so if you need a break from the hustle and bustle of student life then sign up right away because trips are already filling up. Also, the Adventure and Outdoor Pursuits programs are currently hiring and on the lookout for their next wilderness explorers!