UREC Outdoors Offers Diverse Community Chance to Spend Weekend Climbing and Hiking

Students gather on the top of Hawksbill Crag, a lookout point east of Kingston in Newton County.
Photos Submitted

Students gather on the top of Hawksbill Crag, a lookout point east of Kingston in Newton County.

Over the weekend of Nov. 13-14, University Recrection Outdoors offered a trip for anyone who identified as Black, Indigenous or as a person of color at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch and the Buffalo National River Wilderness area. The goal at UREC Outdoors is to get more students into the outdoors, a place that often fosters immense growth and personal development.

However, the outdoors is often exclusive due to high gear costs, lack of mentorship and a general lack of opportunity to get outside. More specifically, barriers of time, money, knowledge, ability and lack of transportation exclude many from pursuing adventure-based recreation.   

UREC Outdoors worked to get more students from underserved communities outside and with assistance from the Student Affairs Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee ;a BIPOC Climbing Weekend was fully funded for students who identify as black, indigenous, or a person of color.

Hikers pass a sign that reads Cliffs of Insanity
Students gather around a sign labelled “Cliffs of Insanity,” the name of a climbing site they had just climbed.

A rock climber on a bluff and smiling
A student on the trip looks over at the camera and smiles as she climbs a bluff.
 
A rock climber looks for hand holds
A student on the trip lookis for their next climbing hold as they climb up the rock outside.

"It was amazing. We had a lot in common and still learned so much from each other," said Jade Romain, a trip participant.  

The weekend was full of fun and adventure with many participants enjoying their first rock climbs outside. Participants self-reported an increased sense of belonging, ability to be their authentic selves, and increased sense of community.

In an anonymous post trip survey, a participant said, "I participated [in the BIPOC Climbing trip] because I wanted a chance to meet people who could relate to me on a POC [person of color] level and this trip did exactly that."  

"I was specifically interested in this trip because of its target audience towards the Black and Brown community. I feel there is not a whole lot of representation in outdoor activities such as rock climbing and hiking; it is seen as something for the majority," said Tiana Williams. "However, for this group to be solely BIPOC community members, it was beautiful to see the representation and the joy these activities can bring to everyone." 

UREC Outdoors is looking to create more opportunities for underserved communities across campus with their trips and activities programs in the coming year. 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 programs.  

Contacts

Katherine Miller, outdoors coordinator
University Recreation
479-575-6865, kgmiller@uark.edu

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