By Nate Tenopir, Sports Editor
As summer turns to fall and the temperatures start to become more comfortable outside, many outdoor enthusiasts rush to take advantage of the fall camping season. Whether they’re into hiking, kayaking or climbing, the UNO Outdoor Venture Center offers students the opportunity to plan almost any outdoor activity.
Located in the HPER building, the Outdoor Venture Center is just down the hall from the front desk in room 117. Whether visitors are looking to rent equipment for a weekend or an extended trip, the OVC offers the ability to get quality gear without having to shell out the cash you normally would at a sports equipment store.
“In addition to the things we actually run, you can come in and rent your own stuff,” said OVC student employee Scott Kielion. Backpacks, tents, anything that you need.”
The OVC gives campers the ability to outfit their trip with tents, sleeping bags, backpacking equipment, cooking equipment, paddling needs, climbing gear, winter gear and even backyard games. Renting out a six-person tent is only $12 for a day or $6.50 per day if it’s being used for four or more days.
Regardless of the time of year, students and visitors to campus can head into the OVC and find everything they’ll need to deal with any temperature and any terrain. When the weather is hot, there are summer sleeping bags on hand to stay cool at night and when things turn cold for the winter, students have access to cross country skis.
“We rent things out on the cheap,” said OVC Graduate Assistant Blaine Hellman. “If you look at the boats, a student can rent a 17-foot canoe for 15 bucks…and that’s just for a day. If you go anywhere else in town you get $50 or $75 a day. … Everything we rent out we check it out before it goes out and after it comes back in to make sure if it’s damaged in any way…we’ve got a whole set up back here so we can repair or order replacement parts if we need to.”
In addition to outfitting students for outdoor activities, the OVC also offers classes and workshops for learning both survival and outdoor skills to ensure each trip is safe and enjoyable. This fall, they’ve got everything on the schedule from outdoor emergency care to a basic kayaking class to a CPR for the professional rescuer course.
Many of the courses do take place on campus but students are also given the chance to practice their skills in a real-world setting. Most classes come with a follow up trip to an outdoor site on the weekends.
“We have outdoor emergency care. It’s first aid and CPR, that type of stuff…medical related,” Kielion said. “We’ll teach that, that’s coming up in the fall. We’ll do a class on backpacking and orienting basics. It’s essentially an introduction to outdoor hiking. It’s a great way to, I don’t wanna say be monitored or have someone above you but just kind of look over and make sure you’re doing everything correctly.”
This semester, the OVC offers regular emergency care classes on Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. and basic climbing classes on Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Students also have the opportunity to get off campus with a backpacking and orienteering basics class as well as a fall break trip to the Wichita Mountains.
“We try to do a bigger trip. This summer we had a group go up to the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin,” Kielion said. “We’ll do a couple paddling workshops. In the winter we’ll do those in the pool. But generally we try to get out to the lake for more of an outdoor setting and more space kind of thing.”
But winter classes for paddling in the HPER pool aren’t the only option students have for winter activities. The OVC gets a lot of renters who take advantage of having Elmwood Golf Course just south of campus.
“We run a couple [classes], usually two or three a season at the golf course,” Kielion said. “But people come in and we’re often sold out of that whole rack of skis right there. Usually they’ll go out for a whole weekend and won’t come back until Monday or Tuesday. It’s a pretty sweet set up.”