Successful trial run for Cameron Park walking class

Martinsen's Cameron Park aerobic walking class with park ranger Lanny and his horse Pete. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Martinsen

By Brooke Hill | Staff Writer

Cameron Park is a popular study and hang out spot among students, but now there’s a way to spend time at Cameron Park while getting class credit for it.

This aerobic walking class meets at Redwood Shelter at Cameron Park. This semester was the class’s “trial run,” according to Jennifer Martinsen, part-time lecturer in the department of health, human performance & recreation.

In the future, Martinsen said she wants the class to be latest class of the day or early in the day so that she doesn’t have to start late and let out early to ensure students have time to get back and forth to campus. Martinsen said the class should be back for the summer and/or the fall.

The group walks about two and a half miles a day in about an hour when they’re doing an inclined hike. Martinsen said the most they’ve ever walked was about three and a half miles when they were doing a mostly flat walk, like along the river trail.

“We walk the whole time,” Martinsen said. “We’ve also increased our pace. Some trails if you go one direction, it’s easier than going back the other direction. So we did a different trail the other week, and we did the same trail we’ve done before but we went backwards, which was harder.”

There are three main components to the grades for the class. The first is a walking journal. Each student keeps a walking journal explaining the time, distance, and name of the trail they walked for each class period, along with what they felt the exertion level of that hike was and a comment on how they felt or what they saw on the hike.

The class also has two quizzes. The first is on the history of Cameron Park. Martinsen said she explains the history as they’re walking as well as posting all of the study materials on Canvas. The second quiz covers trail safety. Some topics include, safety tips, materials that should be carried on a basic walking hike, different types of trail shoes and when each type is needed and hydration.

For the final exam, the class is put in groups of six or seven to put together a trail walk that is two and a half miles composed of four different trails with their team. The only rule is that it can’t be a trail she’s taken them on. The group would lead the rest of the class on the hike that they put together.

“I really enjoy Professor Martinsen’s walking class,” Torrance, Calif. senior Shannon Martin said. “I’ve gone to Cameron Park and seen its more famous areas throughout my college experience, but this was the first time I ventured off the flat path of River Trail and headed into the wooded park. Once you get into the real trails, you quickly learn about the cliffs and hills that Waco has. The hikes can be tiring and challenging but seeing the trees and the views of Waco are well worth the climb.”

Martin said that one of her favorite parts of the class has been getting out of the “Baylor Bubble” and enjoying the sights of Cameron Park while receiving a course credit for it.

“My favorite part of the class so far has been experiencing the changing colors of the leaves in the park,” Martin said. “We don’t really get to see that on campus, but on the trails, we see that fall is here. I love this course because I earn class credit while exploring Waco and what it has to offer.”

Austin junior Deanna Spencer said walking through the park gives her a completely different view than just going back to the spots where she usually relaxes with friends.

“I had no idea the park was full of so many great trails, and they are all so beautiful.” Spencer said. “We have also gotten to meet with the head park ranger, who told us some of the history of the park and also took us on her favorite trails while showing us the different kinds of plants and wildlife.”

Spencer said another fun thing that Martinsen arranged was a talk with park ranger Lanny and his horse Pete.

“It was very interesting to hear what he does for the park, and I feel very safe whenever I am there knowing that there are people there surveying the park at all times,” Spencer said.

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