November 14, 2018
Writer: Jessica Morgenthaler

BYU-Idaho offers an Outdoor activities program that gets students out of the house and a gives them a break from school work. The Outdoor Activities team comes up several events and activities that students can sign up for and attend throughout the semester. They provide all the necessary gear and leadership for half the price.

Often on Thursday nights, they meet on campus at the school pool, where student instructors teach other students how to kayak. Some were just beginners and the others were being taught how to flip back upright after flipping upside down in their kayaks. There were even some students practicing freestyle flips in their shorter dagger-style kayaks. 

Xandi Hurst, who is studying Recreational Management, participated in this activity. She explained that she came because for one of her classes they were asked to attend one of the Outdoor Activities. Hurst said she really enjoyed it and looks forward to the future activities.  

“I am in a leisure ad society class and we always talk about how beneficial leisuring, going out and doing things is," Hurst said. "And especially tonight I was getting really frustrated with my math homework, and I was like I just need to go and do something else for a while and clear my brain and it’s just supper fun and keeps me active."

Outdoor Activities is led by students who plan, prepare, and lead these activities. Marissa Shin, the area director for Outdoor activities, told me the purpose behind this activities program. 

“Outdoor activities, we live in Idaho and it’s a great state," Shin said. "A lot of students that come to Rexburg believe that there is nothing to do here... we really want to show students that there are things to do here.”

Events are planned the semester prior and are posted on the BYU-Idaho website under activities. Shin says it’s best to look ahead at the activities you want to go to and sign up early. Events like rock climbing, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting are popular events that fill up fast.

The activities are held based on the time of year. For the fall season they host archery, caving, giant swing at the ropes course, hot springs, mountain biking, kayaking in the pool, and star gazing. For the winter there will be more snow sports such as skiing, fat biking, sledding, snow shoeing, and air boarding. Then in the spring there will be activities such as horseback riding, rock climbing, kayaking and whitewater rafting. 

Rachel Tally is studying therapeutic recreation and in charge of publicity for the program. She recounts one of her favorite activities in the program. 

“There was this one that first came to my mind," Tally said. "And it was when we were horseback riding a couple weeks ago... it’s fall all the leaves were changing colors, it was beautiful! We went around this corner… on a mountain and there was just this field of aspen trees, it was pretty much just the same thing just like that nostalgia of how amazing outside is, and that I should always strive to feel that happy, just appreciate what we have. That was one of my favorite trips.”

National Geographic published an article called “This Is Your Brain on Nature”, by Florence Williams. This Article lists several studies that show that being outdoors, in nature and being active can give you positive health benefits. 

Williams describes one study done at Chiba University in Japan. They sent 84 volunteers on a 15-minute walk in the woods and the same number on a walk around city centers. Those who spent that time in the woods had a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, blood pressure, and heart rate. 

National Geographic quotes David Strayer a professor at The University of Utah who said, “We come out in nature not because the science says it does something to us, but because of how it makes us feel.” 

BYU-Idaho’s Outdoor activities gives students the opportunity to do something new and be involved in self enriching activities.

To get involved go to the BYU-Idaho website byui.edu under outdoor activities and sign up for some of their upcoming adventures, or volunteer to be a leader.