A city of tents. A raging bonfire. A lighted stage resonating with the sounds of live music.
These are just a few of the things passersby might have noticed Sept. 23 had they wandered near the grassy field between the West Lagoon and Eco Woods.
The source of this outdoor festivity? Outdoor Adventures’ first “Camp on Campus.”
Around 100 participants came together for workshops and activities. From the beginner camper to the more experienced, everyone had a unique experience.
Some learned about cooking in a Dutch oven and primitive friction fire-building while others chose to paddle in Outdoor Adventures’ canoes on the lagoon or toss illuminated Frisbees in the night. Group Fitness hosted an outdoor yoga class; an ecology presentation was provided by the Environmental Studies program. Bands such as Uncovered, Jelly Bones and Machine Gun Moses rocked music through the night while participants socialized amiably around the bonfire.
“It was such a friendly environment,” participant Stephanie Bourgeois said. “People were talking to strangers.”
One of the main purposes behind this event was to provided accessibility and guidance to people who have an interest in camping and outdoor recreation, but perhaps have never experienced it before due to lack of resources. Eager to share their love for the outdoors as well as their skills, Outdoor Adventures staff facilitated the “Camp on Campus” experience.
“I don’t think I would have felt at ease if my partner and I set-up the tent ourselves,” participant Stephanie Pleasant said. “However, the next time we’re confident that we can do it ourselves.”
As the fire burned down and the music tapered off, some students chose to retire to their campus dwellings while around 50 other students from student organizations such as TRIO and ELS camped out for the night.
Christine Lagattolla, the coordinator of the event, was pleased with the initial success of what is hoped to become an annual program.
“I want students to feel safe on their own campus, to try something new, and to use the outdoors as a place they can build community with new or old friends,” Lagattolla said.
For more information on off-campus camping opportunities, call (815) 753-9423.