Outdoor Adventures, a campus recreation center which opened at the University of Miami’s Lakeside Village with a popular rock climbing wall in August 2020, started a Gear Rental program this past spring semester to provide students a convenient way to explore south Florida’s nature.
Students can check out various pieces of equipment such as paddle boards, scuba equipment and camping gear, which students have used on trips to Virginia Key, Key Biscayne and beyond.
Outdoor Adventures also provides a list of “Adventure Locations” on its website with recommendations for day trips, trails and parks to check out in South Florida and the Florida Keys.
Junior Olivia Joyce, a supervisor at Outdoor Adventures, noted the success the climbing wall had in cultivating interest in outdoor activities within the campus community. Anyone that walks into Outdoor Adventures is likely to hear the sound of drilling from the climbing wall’s setters, hard at work charting new courses to keep the regulars on their toes.
Located on the ground floor of Lakeside Village, Outdoor Adventures now offers free equipment rentals to Lakeside residents and low rental fees for other patrons. To get equipment, those interested can call Outdoor Adventures, make an advanced reservation and then schedule a pick-up time online through the Outdoor Adventures website.
Joyce noted that the popular paddle boards’ price for non-Lakeside residents was reduced from $30 to $18, an adjustment designed to attract not only students from all around campus, but also faculty, who have recently been made eligible to participate.
“We want Outdoor Adventures to be a very inclusive environment,” Joyce explained.
The inclusion-driven sentiment was echoed by Outdoor Recreation Club (ORC) Vice President Natalia Rovira, who also works at Outdoor Adventures as a supervisor. Rovira, a senior, expressed a particular desire to use ORC to reach out to members of minority groups for whom the outdoors have historically been less accessible and more dangerous.
“The whole purpose of ORC was to target specifically these kinds of communities on campus,” Rovira said, detailing the strong alliance between her club and Outdoor Adventures, and expressing her hopes that together, the two organizations can make the U’s burgeoning outdoor culture an inclusive one. “Everyone deserves to be outside.”
Kate Lui, a sophomore who frequents the facility, praised the welcoming community that has formed around Outdoor Adventures.
“I think the whole gym and everyone in it is really supportive,” Lui said. “When I go now, I never go alone.”
Lui said she plans on taking advantage of the new equipment rentals with friends she’s made while rock climbing.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thus far limited the capacity inside Outdoor Adventures, but both Joyce and Rovira have expressed interest in organizing camping trips through the program off campus. Prospective destinations include Max Patch, North Carolina and Peace River, Florida, though plans remain tentative.
Joyce and Rovira say they are excited to welcome more students as Outdoor Adventures continues to grow.
“There are lots of opportunities to get involved,” Joyce explained. “This space is for students. All students.”