Article by Marshal Wiegand, Kristina Velpel, Zach Nabers, Zibo Dai
People are not made to stay still. This is why, in the spring of 2021, Greenville University approved the creation of the Outdoor Adventure Club. The purpose of the club is to expand the horizons of GU students in an exciting and affordable way. Club members accomplish this through spiritual growth, environmental services, and of course outdoor trips. The club meets weekly for a short briefing and bible study. This helps them become closer, grow their faith, and have a voice in decisions.
Each month the Adventure Club has a workday, open to the entire campus, for an outdoor project. The current project is restoring, maintaining, and eventually expanding the gulley trails as a way of giving back to the community and making it easier for others to experience nature. What attracts most students, however, are the trips and experiences. The club has several local trips each month, such as rock climbing in Saint Louis or cave kayaking in Missouri, two weekend camping trips and one weeklong trip per year. This year the club has already visited Mammoth Cave, the largest known cave system in the world, gone rock climbing several times, gone ice skating, and many other activities. Plans for the rest of the semester include zip lining, canoeing, and a trip to the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. All trips are optional for members.
The idea of the Outdoor Adventure Club originally came from its founders’ mutual love of outdoor experiences. At the time, GU had very few opportunities for its non-athlete students and they had an opening for a new program. The club’s focus on experiential learning and its availability to all students, not just the sports groups, made it the natural choice. The new connection point allows students and prospective students to explore their passions and find meaningful experiences. When the club was launched, it started with several students who were already on campus and recruiting had already started for the 2022-2023 school year. The growth goal is six new students each year until the group reaches its full capacity of twenty-four. Currently, GU is one of the only U.S. based schools with such a program, and this makes it stand out among other universities with similar academics and sports. According to coach Stephen Groves, the Outdoor Adventure Club will serve as a forerunner to many other such programs across the United States. “We know that outdoor activities and things like national park visits continue to go up each year. My guess is that outdoor adventure programs will continue to get more popular in coming years.”
Students in the club have been treated to several fantastic experiences already. In the space of a semester and a half they explored the natural caverns in Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and the man made caves in Crystal City Missouri. They have restored nearly half the gulley trail and experienced the outdoors in a way that would not have otherwise been possible. Spiritually, they have grown closer to God and each other through a devotion or Bible study every week since the club began. In the coming weeks they will camp and zipline, travel to Saint Louis, and tour Arizona and Utah.
Unfortunately, the group is not open to simply be joined. The club’s capacity is limited but it will eventually grow as students are recruited. That said, if someone is looking to join, they only need to reach out to Coach Stephen Groves or Ross Baker about available spaces or just for general information about the club and its activities. Their contact info is below.