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Experiencing the outdoors

Crawling through dark underground caverns by headlamp, crashing down Class IV rapids and exploring the serene beauty of the backcountry are opportunities students have on USF’s Outdoor Recreation’s adventure trips.

The adventure trips are a program Eric Hunter, director of Campus Recreation, began in the late 1980s after he arrived at USF in 1986.

“These trips are an ideal way to introduce students to the many wonders of nature, to educate students about the environment, and to make these students ambassadors for the environment and the ethics surrounding adventure travel,” Hunter said.

Besides building bonds with nature, the trips also promote personal growth, said Outdoor Resource Center and Trip Coordinator Brett Morgan.

“The adventure trip program provides people a unique way to experience the outdoors,” Morgan said. “It puts them in an environment that they are typically not used to, which creates certain challenges for them and helps them grow as an individual.”

The trips are scheduled year-round and include kayaking, hiking, skiing, whitewater rafting, camping, backpacking and canoe trips.

Hunter said the program has matured in the past 10 to 20 years. The trip leaders are experts and full-time employees of Campus Recreation.

“They have the education and hard skills that ensure each participant will gain the most from every trip,” he said. “Now, every facet of risk management is addressed and attended to.”

The events are led by Wilderness First Responders who are skilled in backcountry survival. Nine trips are scheduled for the fall semester and six for the spring.

A two-day whitewater rafting trip on the Ocoee River in Tennessee Saturday and Sunday marked the first trip of fall. A weeklong kayaking excursion through 10,000 Islands from Dec. 12-18 wraps up the fall trips, and the price ranges from $215 for USF students to $283 for non-USF students.

New additions have been added to this year’s agenda, including Kayaking Cape Canaveral Weekend in October, St. Augustine Beach Weekend in April and Manatee Swim in April, Morgan said.

Morgan said one of his goals is to make these trips affordable for students.

“We’ve put in more affordable and smaller trips this year,” Morgan said. “It’s a tough economic time for folks, so we want to be able to provide the experiences and do it in a way that they can afford to go on them.”

USF students can find an adventure for as low as $10, with a majority of the trips costing less than $100 during the fall semester.

Hunter said it’s important to introduce students to new experiences, specifically the outdoors.

“Exposing students to all the various terrains and waterways opens up new windows to them,” he said. “Hopefully, it develops a lifelong appreciation for the outdoors.”

Students may view and sign up for trips online by visiting