By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer
Penland Hall’s Outdoor Adventure LLC will be hosting an overnight caving trip in Austin this weekend.
Around 20 students will be visiting the Whirlpool Cave and will camp at Bastrop State Park. For many students, this will serve as their first experience caving.
“It’s not a cave that you probably think about when you think what a cave looks like,” Gabe Garcez, Outdoor Adventure Graduate Assistant, said. “This cave has minimal standing room at the entrance and pretty much the whole time you’re in there, you’re either squatting down or on your knees or sliding on your stomach.”
Getting through the cave is estimated to take around three to four hours and students are recommended to bring a water bottle and snacks and will be wearing a helmet, kneepads and elbow pads.
“A majority of the time you’re down there, I would say there’s not more than about three feet of clearance,” Garcez said. “You get down to some spaces where only your shoulders will fit through.”
The Outdoor Adventure LLC is a way for Penland Hall residents to get involved with an Outdoor Adventure Sports class along with weekend trips throughout the semester to locations such as Reveille Peak Ranch, the Baylor challenge course, Dinosaur Valley and the Georgetown Loop Trail for activities such as mountain biking, climbing, backpacking and facilitation.
“Of all the adventures and things I’ve done, I’ve never actually been caving and so caving is just something I’ve always wanted to do and now that I have the opportunity to go, I’m going to take the chance,” Houston freshman Xavier Velasquez said.
While these events are primarily offered to the LLC students, spaces are occasionally opened up to other students in Penland Hall.
For students not associated with Penland, the Campus Recreation Outdoor Adventure offers many similar events such as caving, biking and climbing trips. Students are able to sign up for these events at the Student Life Center.
“[My favorite aspect of the LLC] is the community that goes along with it,” Velasquez said. “It’s not just a bunch of us just going every weekend or so. It’s really all of us hanging out together every single day, playing card games, just hanging out.”
Preparing for these events goes beyond the physical aspect and Garcez emphasizes that students will gain a new perspective on many aspects of their life during these trips.
“We want to facilitate aspects of self-reflection and self-awareness,” Garcez said. “The outdoors really does allow people to have a space to do that. When you’re walking all day with your thoughts you just start thinking about things you may not think about on the daily.”
Students are encouraged to sign up for weekend trips about a month prior to the event and to look into outdoor adventure opportunities through both Penland and the Student Life Center to shape their Baylor experience.