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Outdoor Recreation
Top 10 Things I Wish My Participants Knew – Interview with an ORP Trip Lead Students hike in the desert on rocks

Recreation Services Outdoor Recreation Program (ORP) takes a ton of awesome and breathtaking trips. Climbing in Utah, sea kayaking in Alaska, surfing in Costa Rica, and hiking through Minnesota, are just a few examples of the cool things our ORP participants get to do. But signing up for that first ORP trip can be a little nerve wracking. Luckily we caught up with TJ Lenaerts, student Trip Leader, and Jarrad Chester, Coordinator for ORP to find out the top 10 Things they wish all participants knew before heading out on an ORP trip.

  • How to Pack Clothes:

Contrary to popular belief, backcountry trips and suitcases don’t mix well! Bring a pillowcase or trash bag full of clothes into ORP sometime before your trip leaves. Your trip leaders will help you slim down on the amount of clothing you need to bring. This is one of those times where less is more!

  • Hiking Boots:

Don’t bring brand new hiking boots on a trip. Make sure to break in new boots a month or two beforehand. If you trained in hiking shoes, don’t make a switch right before you leave. *Bonus Points, it helps to even wear the same socks you plan to hike in*

  • There’s no Shower House:

Most of our trips are in the backcountry, not a campground. There are no buildings, outhouses, or showers for miles. However, to stay clean, you can take stream baths and use wet wipes. After a day or two, you barely even notice.

  • Enthusiasm to Learn:

As trip leaders, it’s our job to cook, clean, and perform other routine tasks. However, we love it when people want to help with activities. Even more than that, we love to teach participants new skills!

  • Itinerary is not set in stone:

Patience is a virtue. Even the most well-prepared trip can go awry in some way. Trip leaders love a crew that is flexible and able to roll with the punches. We can’t control everything, but we can work together to create a rad plan B.

  • Weather:

As trip leaders, we monitor the weather until we lose cell service. We will always relay everything we know to our participants. Weather is one of the major challenges as a trip leader, and in the field it can change in the blink of an eye. So come prepared for all of the possibilities we lay out for you.

  • This is YOUR Trip:

Sometimes participants see their trip leaders as camp counselors. They expect we have activities planned for every hour of the day and have no say in how the trip runs. This is not true! I’m sure many of our participants have just as many ice breakers, name games, and other activities as we do!

  • Menu Ideas:

After planning several backcountry trips, it gets tough to think of other new ideas for meals. We are more than happy to take suggestions to make the backcountry version of your favorite cuisine!

  • Physical Fitness:

Our trips do not require that you be physically fit to attend. However, it is recommended that participants should try to get acquainted with the activity beforehand. Try hiking in your boots or rent a canoe and take it for a spin. The more you practice the activities, the more enjoyable your experience will be. If it’s a climbing trip, come to the climbing wall. If it’s a hiking trip, take a hike!

You can find more information about our ORP trips on our website! Come check us out or feel free to sign up for one of our trips!