Outdoor Program offers students atypical classes

Passing through waterfalls while rushing down a river is not exactly the average class setting, but it is for one of the four courses the Outdoor Program is offering students next year.

The University’s Outdoor Program is offering all students the opportunity to take a whitewater rafting, canoeing or rock climbing class during the next academic year, giving students the opportunity to spend time in nature rather than in a classroom, said Jerome Gabriel, director of the outdoor program.

Gabriel said he was looking forward to having these classes offered to students next year because it is a way for them to go on an outdoor trip and get credit for it.

“A lot of the trips through the Outdoor Program deal with education through safety lessons, sustainability and so forth,” Gabriel said. “There shouldn’t be any reason for students not to get credit for something like that.”

There are four courses offered by the Outdoor Program, each worth one credit. The fall classes offered are white water rafting and rock climbing. The rock climbing class filled up the first day of scheduling, but another rock climbing class will be offered to students for the spring semester, along with canoeing.

“The rock climbing class focuses mostly on technique, balance, strength training, history and terminology,” Gabriel said. “The class will take place twice a week at the climbing wall in the rec center. There is also an option of going on an outdoor trip to go rock climbing; no experience necessary.”

Gabriel earned his degree in outdoor leadership from Columbia Bible College and has been a professional rock climbing, rappelling and caving guide for three years. He has been climbing for a total of eight years.

The whitewater rafting class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, along with a mandatory whitewater rafting trip in West Virginia during fall break with the North American River Runners.

NARR specializes in running the two best rivers for whitewater rafting in West Virginia, the New River and the Gauley River. Established in 1975, it is one of the oldest and largest outfitters in West Virginia and their staff is highly trained and experienced in the industry, according to the NARR website.

Although Gabriel will be teaching all four classes and will be the main instructor on the majority of the trips, student Outdoor Program staffers will also help as assistant leaders.

Junior staff member of the Outdoor Program Adam Larma said he first got involved with the program as a trip attendee in 2008. Larma said he is excited to be a part of these new courses, especially canoeing.

“I would love to share my passion of canoeing with other students at the University,” he said. “I will be leading some of the trips since Jerome will not always be able to; plus, I will be there if he needs me to come into the classroom portion depending on our schedules.”

Larma and Gabriel will be taking the same American Canoe Association Level 1 Instructor course together and will be able to teach the same information to those taking the class.

“I hope these classes stay as popular as they are now, because it would be wonderful if we were able to expand on these courses and offer them to a larger amount of students,” Larma said.