If you’re a University of Nebraska at Omaha student looking for an outdoor adventure over winter break, then look no further than the Outdoor Venture Center.
Not only does the OVC offer rental equipment and a state of the art climbing wall, but they offer trips and workshops each semester as well. Opportunities can range from local workshops to overnight trips involving hiking, kayaking, rock climbing and more.
The OVC has two upcoming trips in January. The first trip will be an ice climbing adventure in Ouray, Colorado from Jan. 3-7. Participants will experience the foothills of the San Juan Mountains, which farm ice for climbers.
The second trip is a ski trip to Snowy Range, Wyoming during Martin Luther King weekend from Jan. 13-16. Participants on both trips will stay in local cabins.
Michael Palandri, a UNO student and employee at the OVC, became a trip leader after attending a few OVC trips. Palandri has participated in two trips and lead four.
“I wanted to have the opportunity to teach others what I knew and hopefully to inspire them to enjoy the outdoors,” Palandri said.
Through these experiences, Palandri has traveled to the Apostle Islands, the Badlands, Red Rock Lake, the Buffalo River, Ozark Highlands Trail and Smoky Mountains National Park.
Palandri said his favorite trip was his very first—when he went sea kayaking at the Apostle Islands National Lake Shore in July 2015.
“There was a lot of goofing around, exploring the islands and swimming. I saw things I’ve never seen before including sea caves, the great lakes and islands,” Palandri said. “My outdoor experience was very limited at the time, so it was fun to go out and try new things.”
As for traveling with a group of strangers during the trips, Palandri said participants become very close and are friends by the second day.
“When a group is together all day for several days, it doesn’t take long to develop relationships,” Palandri said. “By the end of the trip, everyone is close and often remains in contact with one another after the trip.”
Amber Johnson, a UNO junior, also attended the Apostle Islands sea kayaking excursion as her first trip. Johnson enjoyed the trip so much she signed up for a rock climbing class at UNO, a rock climbing trip in Colorado, a backpacking trip to the Badlands and a rock climbing trip to Blue Mounds, Minnesota.
Johnson’s most recent trip was a backpacking during Thanksgiving break in Arkansas.
“On these trips, you develop new skill sets, challenge yourself, form friendships and get a chance to explore nature,” Johnson said.
Each trip challenges Johnson to move out of her comfort zone in a different way. This involves working with the group of leaders and participants to create a strong sense of communication and bonding.
One example of this, according to Johnson, was her climbing trip to Colorado.
“I had never climbed before,” Johnson said. “It was a lot of work, and I had to push myself, but when I’d have a smooth climb and enjoy the nature all around me, it felt so great.”
Neither Johnson nor Palandri are attending the winter trips, though Palandri, who has been to Ouray, Colorado in the summer, said it will be a beautiful place for ice climbers.
As for the ski trip, Palandri said the trip will be a great opportunity for those interested in skiing, regardless of their experience.
“This is a great way to be introduced to specific activities with guidance from knowledgeable leaders,” Palandri said.
For more information about the cost and details of the upcoming winter trips, call the Outdoor Venture Center at 402.554.2258.