By: Meghan Loughry, Kevin Buchanan, and Liana Aguirre-Echevarria, University Recreation & Wellness Adventure Program
The RecWell Adventure Program is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion. Here’s a look at the different ways we work to make our fellow Terps feel welcome and comfortable in our programs.
Accommodating Various Experience Levels
A common barrier people face when looking to recreate outdoors is choosing not to participate due to their perception that they aren’t good enough or experienced enough for an activity. However, individuals with all levels of experience are welcome in everything we do at the challenge course, rock wall, bike shop, and in our trips program!
Our motto at the Adventure Program is “challenge by choice,” which means that individuals decide on their level of challenge in any activity we do. We want you to move outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to try new things, but we never want to push people beyond the challenges they are willing to take on for themselves. Trained staff will be there to support you as you learn a new skill.
Most activities we offer are, or can be, geared toward varied experience levels. For example, we offer both intermediate and introductory mountain biking trips. In doing so, individuals with more experience can continue to challenge themselves while newcomers have the opportunity to learn a new skill (and will hopefully join us on an intermediate mountain biking trip in the future!). Our Trip Leaders are excited to teach more advanced techniques to those who are ready and interested; we offer backpacking and backcountry cooking clinics so you can learn the skills necessary to go backpacking on your own!
When you go to the Climbing Wall or the Challenge Course, you’ll be given all necessary equipment and instruction so you will be ready to go regardless of if you have been climbing before. You are never expected to climb to the top, but rather can choose how high you wish to go. We also offer Climb Safe Clinics where you can learn the necessary skills to belay at the wall. After passing the belay test, you are free to belay others at the wall.
The Bike Shop not only offers free bike maintenance, but our student bike mechanics will also walk you through the process step-by-step so you can gain the skills to perform your own bike maintenance in the future. We also offer Intro to Bike Maintenance clinics where you will get experience and your own multi-tool to work on your bike.
Providing Access to Outdoor Gear
A common misconception about recreating outdoors is that you need to buy expensive, specialized gear in order to do so. At the Adventure Program, we are able to provide you with the majority of the gear you will need for any activity. In addition to free bike maintenance, our bike shop offers semester long commuter bike rentals as well as affordable helmets and bike locks.
If you come to climb, you don’t need your own climbing harness or climbing shoes. The Climbing Wall provides both to all participants! The wall is open from 4-8 PM Sunday through Thursday during the Fall and Spring, and is free to all UMD students and RecWell members.
If you ever go on a trip, almost all gear will be provided from tents and sleeping bags to kayaks, bikes and canoes. Our Trip Leaders will teach you how to use all the equipment safely and properly. Additionally, we have a Borrow Bin that is accessible to all participants. In the bin you can find used and loved gear that has been donated by staff that you are welcome to borrow and to use on our trips. Everything is clean and functioning!
Even if you don’t sign up for a trip, you are welcome to come and rent gear from our Rental Desk. Our goal is to make sure that anyone and everyone can get outside and involved with outdoor recreation, regardless of their access to gear.
Our program is very proud to be paving the way for adaptive recreation at the collegiate level because we truly believe everyone should have access to outdoor recreation. Thanks to a grant we received from the Department of Veterans Affairs, we were able to purchase adaptive kayaking equipment from Creating Ability which allows participants with physical disabilities to participate in our kayaking programs. Next semester we will be expanding our adaptive programming to include climbing and biking.
Another important program that we offer over Spring Break is the Adventure Leadership and Learning Inclusion Experience through Diversity (ALLIED). ALLIED is a five day, four night outdoor backpacking experience focused on exploring identity and its impact on leadership. Throughout this adventure, participants learn the basics of backpacking, outdoor cooking, camping, and navigation all while gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of themselves and others through facilitated activities and dialogue. Thanks to generous support from KIND Bar, we are able to eliminate the economic barrier by offering this program at no cost.
There are a lot of exciting things happening at the Adventure Program. We’re reaching more participants than ever before and are continuing to diversify our programming. We hope that you too will join us as we work to create a place in the outdoors for everyone. All Terps are welcome!