By Kelly Burns, Staff Writer
Miami University is proving that an Ohio school can be adventurous by taking on the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge.
Outdoor Nation is a not-for-profit organization that works toward encouraging people to get outside and enjoy nature.
The group founded the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge. The Challenge is described by the organization as a “March Madness style” competition where universities compete to prove they are the most outdoorsy school.
This year, the Challenge runs from September 4 through October 15 and includes 90 schools.
As of Monday, Miami was ranked 14th out of the 90 schools.
Assistant Director of the Outdoor Pursuit Center, Tim Posey, was instrumental in bringing the Challenge to Miami but was surprised by the response he received.
“It really spiraled into something much larger than I was anticipating,” Posey said. “I just thought it was a neat opportunity to get some of our classes and students to go outside.”
Along with Posey, Director of the Outdoor Pursuit Center Jen Siliko decided to bring the challenge to Miami and enlist Miamians to get outdoors.
The Challenge isn’t limited to students, however. Faculty, alumni and community members can participate as well and the Challenge has already drawn attention from others in the community, including President Crawford.
“We reached out to President and Dr. Crawford who were really jazzed about participating and proving that a Midwest school can be outdoorsy,” Siliko said.
Anything from hiking to hammocking can earn points for participants.
“It’s not just going out and kayaking or something that’s inaccessible, but something as simple as walking to class instead of driving,” Posey said. “It’s something that everyone can participate and do.”
“Not just the ‘outdoorsy folk,’” Siliko added.
Students and faculty need only sign up on the Outdoor Nation app to start earning points for Miami. Whether it’s running in Hueston Woods or walking to class, participants can snap a picture of themselves with the app and accumulate up to 50 points a day.
Those points add to the university’s score as a whole and the individual’s score.
There is a new highlighted activity everyday of the week and if a participant logs time in the activity they are entered into a sweepstakes to win prizes like $100 gift cards or merchandise from the sponsors.
This year, sponsors include REI, The Northface, Adidas, Chaco and others.
Kailee Tateman, president of Miami’s Outdoor Adventure Club, thinks the Challenge provides a great opportunity for Miamians to get out and enjoy nature. Tateman thinks the Outdoor Adventure Club is well suited for this Challenge.
“We have like 15 trips that go through an entire weekend,” she said “That’s gonna add up to a lot of hours.”
Trips like canoeing, white water rafting, backpacking and mountain biking provide OAC members and Miami students with opportunities to rack up points and boost Miami’s standing.
But Tateman knows that the Challenge doesn’t only focus on big adventurous trips.
“It honestly doesn’t take much,” she said. “I hammock maybe twice a week and that’s considered an outdoor activity.”
Posey and Siliko hope that more and more Miamians will participate and that the Challenge will become a yearly occurrence. They and the Outdoor Pursuit Center have events and classes planned that will hopefully draw in more participants and log more hours.
Tateman is also on board and recognizes the importance of what the Challenge and Outdoor Nation is trying to accomplish.
“I just think it’s really important to try to get outside especially with being so busy with school,” Tateman said. “You’re stuck on a laptop or sending emails to profs and it’s really nice to take that hour to yourself and just be in nature.”
She thinks that everyone should participate, even if they don’t consider themselves an outdoorsy person.
“It’s college,” she said. “Explore a little bit. Do something that you’re not used to.”