photo by Nadia Crawford
OREC is a student organization that provides opportunities to experience the outdoors with groups of Trinity students.
Trinity students lead these outdoor excursions. One of these group leaders is senior Jackson Braley. He described what OREC does for Trinity students. “[OREC] allows Trinity students to access outdoor experiences for a discounted price,” said Braley.
Providing outdoor experiences is what OREC does for Trinity students on paper, but what OREC actually does for Trinity students is much more than that. For one, it reminds students that there is an outside world.
Participating in OREC is one of the easiest ways students can discover and explore outdoor spaces. “[OREC] allows Trinity students to escape the Trinity bubble and everyday tasks. We take them into outdoor spaces where they can relax, explore, adventure, and enjoy an intimate relationship with nature,” Braley said.
Trinity students can also become more involved in the Trinity community through OREC. Gemma Smith, an OREC group leader, spoke about what OREC does for students’ relationships with each other. “It provides a way to go with a group and meet new people,” said Smith.
OREC is even more necessary now. With online classes and social distancing, it is even easier than it was to never go outside, and it is even harder than it was to meet new people.
Ryanna Chouman, an OREC group leader, spoke about why OREC is especially important in this environment. “One of the best ways to hang out with new people is going outside,” said Chouman.
Unfortunately, while COVID-19 has made OREC more necessary, it also has made it much harder for OREC to execute their events. Mostly, COVID-19 restrictions have changed what events they could plan. “[OREC] would lead trips out of state before COVID-19, or we would go to different cities. Now trips can’t be led greater than 15 minutes away. All of our trips are walking distance,” Braley said.
However, OREC is not letting the COVID-19 restrictions stop them from providing outdoor experiences for Trinity students. “[COVID-19 restrictions] cut out a lot of the types of outdoor experiences, but we have programmed a semester where we can get outside every weekend and keep accordance with COVID-19 policies,” Braley said.
Smith spoke about some of the events they will have for the rest of the semester. “[We have] biking trips lined up, a climbing trip at some point this semester, botanical gardens, canoeing and kayaking in the River Walk,” Smith said.
If Trinity students want to attend any OREC events, they will have to follow COVID-19 protocols because OREC is strictly enforcing them. “OREC is following Nerve center guidelines, [like] health check, mask, social distancing, only going places where social distancing is possible, and not providing any food or beverages,” Smith said.
OREC also has a major event lined up. OREC has partnered with TDC, Trinity Diversity and Connection, to bring in Black Outside Inc. and Latina Outdoors, who aim at getting underrepresented populations into the outdoors, want to explore how outdoor spaces aren’t really diverse and diversify the outdoors. [We are] putting on a lecture Friday, and Saturday morning we’re doing three simultaneous experiences, hiking, kayaking, and an event in Brackenridge Park,” Braley said.
To attend OREC events, Trinity students must sign up, so it is important to join their mailing list. “Website and email list is the main way people know about events, and the link to sign up for the email list is on the website,” Smith said.
For the Trinity students not on campus, OREC has some advice for how they can get outside. “Putting time and energy into local parks is one of the best ways to contribute to our society. You should set yourself little challenges with time for nature but also time for you,” Chouman said.
No matter where Trinity students are, it is important for them to get outdoor recreation. “There are proven health benefits to regularly getting outside. Taking time to appreciate what exists in nature and appreciate that environment mentally and physically gives a greater appreciation for the world you live in,” Chouman said.