Outdoor Leadership Program Tackles Covid
Evy Brunelle ~ Staff Writer
The Outdoor Leadership Program (OLP) at the University of Lynchburg has recorded a spike in attendance since students returned to campus in the midst of the Covid-19pandemic. Tim Slusser has been in charge of the club since 2018 notes that they are taking extra precautions against Covid so students can still enjoy the great outdoors.
Slusser said, “The Outdoor Leadership Program is privileged and the fact that we are naturally socially distant on many of our trips. So it really only took some slight modifications to our policies and procedures to be able to run trips.”
OLP has an array of activities to do from swimming and hiking to rock climbing. Slusser’s favorite trips involve whitewater rafting. In the fall semester, students go to the New River Gorge in West Virginia and in the spring semester, the whitewater rafting trip takes place on the Nolichucky River in Tennessee. However, Slusser said he loves, “to lead the expedition style trips that take place over the fall and spring breaks. I really enjoy seeing the growth that takes place on these types of trips.”
Senior Caitlyn Roderick who works with OLP said, “Due to Covid, we can only have up to 6 people in the vans for trips. We also have had to change our check-in process, having to take temperatures and pulse ox readings of students and record them. We have to wear masks as well.” Roderick also said that her favorite trips to work are the swimming and hiking trips.
Senior Natalie Hanno also works with OLP and her favorite trip was backpacking over spring break last year. They canoed the Rio Grandes in the Big Bend National Park and, “spent several days in the backcountry, saw some amazing views and starry nights, and came back with countless stories,” said Hanno. The most recent trip she worked was a rock climbing trip in the Blue Ridge mountains where she said, “the students had the opportunity to learn basic climbing techniques and learn how to belay one another.” She too, feels safe going back to work because of all the new safety features implemented into each trip.
Slusser and his team hope to see the club grow over the next few years and encourage students to come join them outside. He said, “We at OLP want the campus to know that the outdoors is open for business, and that the outdoors can be a safe refuge for you and these uncertain times. Outdoor recreation is great for your physical health but also your mental health…just make sure to do so safely and follow Leave No Trace Guidelines.”
For more information on OLP’s Infection Control Policy, please visit https://docs.google.com/document/d/11w6KI3PPcQ-BsbVNtH_R2cxwqY_wr8xRzmiX8hx_Wxg/edit?usp=sharing, and for the Leave No Trace Guidelines, visit https://lnt.org/the-leave-no-trace-recommendations-for-getting-outside-amidst-covid-19/.