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Experience nature firsthand

Oregon’s natural amenities await those interested in escaping the hum of the city, and the Outdoor Program at Portland State University can take them there.

From hiking and fishing to rafting and skiing, PSU’s Outdoor Program offers a broad spectrum of recreational activities for students and members of the campus community.

“We try to provide as many opportunities to get out as possible. Scheduling is very flexible and we’re open to the voice of the student body in selecting activities,” member Bryan Fields said.

Founded in 1966 and run entirely by students, the Outdoor Program’s mission is to make the Pacific Northwest’s vast array of outdoor recreation available to students at an affordable price. The program also affords students the opportunity to meet others that enjoy similar activities, a sometimes daunting task at a commuter campus.

“They’re the best deal going. The price of the trip is offset by the SFC (Student Fee Commity), which makes it affordable to students. Our trip to the Rogue is $70. Comparable outfitters offer trips for over $500,” Fields said.

A full calendar of activity looms on the horizon for adventurous PSU students in the fall term, kicking off with a rafting trip Oct. 6-7 on the Deschutes River. The program frequently schedules multiple events for the same weekend in an effort to provide selection. For those interested in climbing Mt. St. Helens, an opportunity awaits on Oct. 7. Events are scheduled for every weekend thereafter and range from rafting the Rogue River in Southern Oregon to taking a day-hike through the Eagle Creek wilderness.

“As our program’s popularity has grown, we’ve offered a greater number of trips. This fall will be busier than previous terms. We’ve also been able to offer multiple events on the weekend, which has been a goal,” Fields said.

The Outdoor Program offers equipment rentals to both students and non-students at an affordable price. For example, a pair of students choosing to take a two-night excursion into the Coast Range for a weekend camping trip would be charged $60 per person for a rental package that includes a two-man tent, backpack, sleeping pad, stove and cookware. Also available for rental are a variety of skis for backcountry and cross country use, a wide assortment of cold-weather mountain-climbing gear and a number of varied rafting and kayaking packages. The program asks that users make a deposit on rental equipment at the time of check-out, which can be arranged by leaving credit card information or simply having the deposit charged to student fees.

“Renting equipment is easy. Come in, pick it up and you’ll be on your way,” Fields said. “Once the term starts to pick up, we’ll have the rental hangar open at least three days per week, with longer hours Friday afternoons.”

The Outdoor Program offers a number of activities that require additional experience and education for those participating.

“Kayaking can be tricky, but with some training it really is a great way see Oregon,” Fields said.The program has coordinated introductory whitewater kayaking courses to aid in the training process. The classes are three weeks in length and carry a $280 price tag. With start dates of Oct. 2 and 23, the classes meet three times a week and provide classroom lectures as well as practice sessions in the Stott Center swimming pool. The courses culminate in a trip to an Oregon river where students can shoot the rapids and practice rolls on open water.

The Outdoor Program keeps an office in Smith Memorial Center, Room 114. The organization also maintains a website Among the features on the site are links to relevant weather service websites, avalanche-danger services, transportation and road services and related clubs and organizations. The Web site offers a complete schedule of October trips and fees, lists the program’s hours and contact information, rental fee schedules for equipment and rental hangar location and hours. To sign up for e-mail postings of upcoming trips, log on to mailing lists at [email protected].

“This program is really a gem that not a lot of the student body knows about,” Fields concluded.