UC Merced Connect: Outdoor Program Inspires

May 18, 2011

UC Merced sits in an ideal spot for those who want an active outdoor lifestyle.

The Outdoor Experience Program capitalizes on UC Merced's location with its rapidly growing menu of excursions to outdoor destinations such as Zion National Park, Big Sur, Yosemite National Park, San Francisco Bay and Joshua Tree National Monument.

Program staff members have consistently found increasing demand for the program's offerings; participation this year is up by 30 percent.

"We've had to start increasing the number of trips to meet the demand of a bigger student population," said student coordinator Silvia Villalobos, a sophomore from the San Fernando Valley studying biology.

"Also, offering a variety of trips has led to the participation of people with many different interests," Villalobos added.

Students, faculty, staff and community members of all levels of physical ability can participate by signing up at the front desk of the Joseph Edward Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center.

Costs vary, but the adventures are offered at bargain prices.

For example, this year's Utah trip for spring break cost only $150 and included food, transportation, equipment and fees.

Equipment for rent -- such as tents and sleeping bags -- is available at the front desk of the Recreation and Wellness Center for these trips, or for independent adventures.

Organizers expect that the current expansion of the center will improve this part of the program.

Prospective adventurers can find information about upcoming trips -- such as a rafting excursion on the American River or a kayaking adventure in the San Francisco Bay -- by calling (209) 228-7529.