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A Natural Choice: The Best College Clubs and Activities for Nature Lovers

Ah, the great outdoors! Did you know there are college programs and clubs for that? Here's a look at outdoorsy options and how to find them on campus.

College outdoor clubs and programs are a great way to get out, get active, and meet new people (and can still be considered safe in these socially distant times). Whether you’re already a nature lover who’s factoring outdoor program availability in your college decision process or you’re a current student who wants to become more connected to nature, there are many opportunities to learn and have fun in the great outdoors. Check out what outdoor programs and clubs your current or prospective college or university offers. Here’s an idea of what you can expect. 

What types of outdoor activities are there?

The type of outdoor activities you can participate in depends on where your college is located; you’d be hard-pressed to find a surfing club in Vermont or a skiing club in Florida. Certain colleges may have outdoor programs that are more to your liking than others, and some colleges may not offer official programs but have plenty of club options. If you’re not in college already, you may want to take into consideration the location of your colleges of interest to determine which outdoor programs best suit you and your preferences.

Outdoor programs

If outdoor programs are something you desire in a school, you may want to consider which outdoor scene you prefer and take that into account when choosing a college. For example, the University of Miami’s outdoor program consists of paddle boarding, dive sites, and beach trails, whereas the University of Mississippi’s outdoor adventures consist of hiking, rock climbing, white water rafting, and forest trails. Many colleges and universities have their own outdoor recreation center where you can often find rope challenge courses, sand volleyball courts, rock-climbing walls, and much more. Schools will also often have destination outdoor adventures orchestrated by the college that are held at an off-campus location. Usually, these destination outdoor activities will have fees for travel, food, tickets, instructors, etc. For instance, the University of Mississippi has an upcoming “Biking Day Trip” that goes over the basics of mountain biking with a $10 fee that goes toward the bike rental and paying the instructor to teach students the basics of mountain biking. 

Related: How Important Is Location in My College Decision?

Outdoor clubs

If you’re looking to get involved in outdoor activities that are more long-term and have a larger time commitment, look into the outdoor sports clubs that your college or colleges of interest offer. This is a great way to establish long-lasting relationships with your peers, as these clubs usually have weekly meetings and activities planned. Clubs also allow you to be a more active participant in planning events and activities, allowing you to share your passions and introduce others to new outdoor experiences. Outdoor clubs are definitely the way to go if you want to pursue your interests and form new and lasting relationships. 

How do you find outdoor clubs and programs?

If you do a Google search with the name of your school or the schools you’re applying to and add “campus recreation,” you should be directed to their student recreation website. For example, with my school, you would search “Florida State University campus recreation.” From there, you’ll have to navigate the site to find a link along the lines of “outdoor recreation,” “outdoor adventures,” or just “outdoors.” Once you’ve found that page, browse until you (hopefully) find something that interests you. If a school offers outdoor clubs, they’ll most likely be listed on the campus recreation page under sports clubs. If you don’t see an outdoor club you’re interested in, many colleges allow students to start their own clubs. You could be the founder of a new club on campus and bring students together with similar interests!

Related: Video: Get Involved: Unique Clubs to Join in School

Colleges and universities have more extracurriculars to offer than a lot of students may think. With a little bit of research, you could find or start a group you’re passionate about. Not only that, but you’ll meet students with similar interests and make more friends the more you get involved. Getting outdoors and staying active is also a great stress reliever in college and will give your brain the break it deserves. Your college experience is what you make of it, so find what you’re passionate about and unlock a whole new world of outdoor adventures. 

For more ideas and advice for exploring extracurricular activities in college, check out our Student Life section.

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