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August 13, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Excitement travels fast through the Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP) as new 2020 East Trackers begin to register for a trip that will create lasting memories. Incoming freshmen at Eastern Oregon University can experience an outdoor orientation away from the Eastern Oregon University campus.
This year East Tracks is scheduled for Sept. 14 to 18. Twelve students will get to experience this five-day adventure, which includes activities like rock climbing, paddleboarding, biking and hiking around Anthony Lakes. The trip costs $125 per person, which includes food and gear supplied through the OAP.
Michael Hatch, OAP Director, explained that some of the changes students can expect this year due to the pandemic include: precautions while preparing food, social distancing and mask wearing during activities like rock climbing. Hatch is excited that many activities will be unchanged due to their already distanced nature, like mountain biking, hiking and paddle boarding.
East Tracks offers more than an opportunity to get outside, it also provides a place to build friendships and shape new interests. The trip is open to all levels of experience, so students can reach outside of their comfort zones in a welcoming environment.
“I think the social support network is a really huge benefit,” Hatch said. “I also see a lot of improvements in self-efficacy and self-confidence, as that some of these folks have never paddle-boarded before, they’ve never rock-climbed or mountain-biked, or they’ve never really gone camping and they start doing these activities and they start realizing, ‘I can do it.’”
An East Tracker-turned-OAP-employee, Aime Coffman, said East Tracks 2018 gave her the opportunity to build relationships with students and faculty prior to the start classes. This helped during the first week of school when a friendly face is the only thing students want to see.
“I met some lifelong friends and it really helped out with the first week of school just because you have those familiar faces on campus,” Coffman said. “It’s definitely something people should take the opportunity to go and do. I think you build a lot of great relationships.”
Since her East Tracks trip, Coffman became a student leader for the 2019 venture, which got her foot in the door for EOU employment and was a gateway for building relationships with potential peers and professors.
“It’s just a place for you to dabble and stick your feet in the water, so to speak, and get a feel for the different things that are available, especially in our neck of the woods in Eastern Oregon,” Hatch said. “Student safety and health are a top priority for the OAP. We are being very diligent in how we conduct ourselves and operate this trip to prevent the spread or transmission of the virus.”
Registration is open now and space is limited. For more information, visit eou.edu/outdoor or contact the OAP Office at 541-962-3621.
By PR Intern Emily Andrews
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