By Ada Zhang
For some students at Baylor, being stuck indoors and buried in books is not enough. They crave fresh air and don’t mind getting dirty.
The Baylor Outdoor Adventure Living and Learning Center unites students through a common interest in the outdoors.
Incoming freshmen can apply for the 2014-2015 school year starting Nov. 15.
There are 32 spots in the program, said Jeremy Yarbrough, Outdoor Adventure Living and Learning Center program director, half of which are reserved for incoming freshmen.
Yarbrough said most of the upper division spots have been filled. However, a current student may still apply to be put on the waiting list.
“A lot can change between now and August,” Yarbrough said.
The Center’s mission statement is: “To provide like-minded students an opportunity for personal growth, intellectual stimulation and leadership skills through outdoor adventure experiences.”
Typically, there is a balance within the Outdoor Adventure Living and Learning Center of students who are experienced and inexperienced, Yarbrough said.
Houston senior and third-year Outdoor Adventure Living and Learning Center member Jimmy Britven said he had camping experience before joining the program from Boy Scouts.
“Coming from Boy Scouts, I had a pretty good base of outdoor skills,” Britven said.
Britven said, however, that he still learned a lot from the program.
“I’ve learned a lot about the different styles of camping,” Britven said. “I’ve definitely learned a lot more about outdoor technical skills like with rock climbing and stuff I wasn’t exposed to through Scouting.”
Unlike Britven, Austin freshman Courtney Penland said she didn’t have formal outdoor training before joining the program, but she had camped often with her dad and brothers.
“The outdoors are always fun for me,” Penland said. “I think I had a moderate amount of experience.”
As a part of the program, students are required to take one cohort class per semester. All students who are new to the program have to take HP1112 Backpacking and Camping in the fall.
The Outdoor Adventure Living and Learning Center offers three outdoor weekend trips per semester, only one of which is mandatory.
According to the website, students will be introduced to a variety of outdoor adventure pursuits including caving, climbing, camping, backpacking, and paddling.”
“During a normal semester, we do one trip per month,” Yarbrough said. “They can last anywhere from one day to a full weekend.”
Yarbrough said the trip locations are usually within a four-hour radius around campus.
Britven said it was hard for him as a freshman to manage his time in order to participate in every trip.
“My first year, school and college was all new I didn’t know what I was doing,” he said. “That year, I felt the camp-outs were inconvenient at times because I needed to study and I had so much to do.”
Since that year, Britven said he has made an effort to attend each trip. The reason for this, he said, is because each trip is a chance to bond with other program members.
For Penland, juggling academics and weekend trips has not been much of an issue.
“I try to go on as many trips as possible,” Penland said. “I haven’t been too busy this semester. Usually, if it conflicts then I won’t join but it hasn’t so far.”
In the Outdoor Adventure Living and Learning Center, students learn skills that will be useful to them beyond the realm of outdoor activities, skills that will help them grow as people, Yarbrough said.
“Hopefully, they can take stuff from trip, reflect on it and apply it to life,” Yarbrough said.
The most rewarding part of the program, for both Britven and Penland, has been the relationships they’ve built within the tight-knit community.
“It’s become more of a family than just a group,” Britven said.
Students in the program currently live together in North Village, but next year, students will live in Brooks Flats. To cover travel and equipment costs, students are required to pay a $350 program fee every semester.
To apply, students must fill out the application form on the OA-LLC website.
In addition to completing the application form, students must go through an interview with the program staff.
Yarbrough said experience with outdoor activities is not the only thing the staff looks for in an applicant.
“Demonstrating a desire to learn new things is more important than experience,” Yarbrough said.