Short Documentary Highlights UREC Outdoors Leadership Program on the Rio Grande River

Two students canoe down the Rio Grande River as part of the University Recreation Outdoor Leadership Institute.
Photos by BLK ELK Media

Two students canoe down the Rio Grande River as part of the University Recreation Outdoor Leadership Institute.

UREC Outdoors hosts an extended outdoor leadership backcountry training each year. The expeditions provide opportunities for student growth and development beyond traditional educational experiences. In early 2020 a group of University Recreation student employees will spend five days canoeing and canyoneering in the desert along the Rio Grande River, part of the annual UREC Outdoors program known as the Outdoor Leadership Institute.   

In 2019 Arkansas' own BLK ELK Media joined on the expedition to document the learning, growth and development that occurs on these remote adventure trips. The film crew followed UREC's student leaders on their expedition along the Rio Grande River, capturing both victories and struggles of the students as they move through the stunning landscape of south Texas.

"My leadership skills were improved, more specifically my confidence in my own decision making" said Chris Maxwell, a former UREC Outdoors student staff and marketing major. "I acquired new insight into cultivating a healthy mindset when moving forward into an environment that seems unknown to me."

UREC's Outdoor Leadership Institute serves as the cornerstone of training for students who wish to serve as leaders on future adventure programs. Students participating in the OLI program are trained in all aspects of holistic leadership, including risk management, technical skills, group facilitation, planning, and trip logistics.

"During this trip I learned many valuable skills pertaining to leading outdoor trips such as leadership tactics, delivering teaching topics, and overall trip preparation," said Hayley Felkins, UREC staff and mechanical engineering major. "Additionally, during the trip I grew closer with the people that I work with and shared some awesome memories that will last a lifetime!"

Students who are interested in adventure programming are encouraged to get involved with UREC Outdoors events, clinics and trips. The program offers an extensive lineup of opportunities each semester. Please visit the website for a full list of spring 2020 programs.

The mission of University Recreation is to empower students for success through recreation and wellness. The department provides all U of A students access to the HPER building, the UREC Fitness Center located in the Arkansas Union, and the UREC Sports Complex. Benefits of having a membership include access to gyms, UREC Outdoors, group fitness classes, intramural sports, climbing and bouldering walls, an Olympic sized pool, an indoor track, locker and shower facilities, informal recreation opportunities and more.


Kenny Williams, coordinator
University Recreation


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