The Wellbeing and Recreation of Ohio University, formerly known as Campus Recreation, reopened this spring semester with new events for students and community members.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, OU closed and canceled many of its outdoor and recreational opportunities last semester. With access to vaccines increasing across the country, the university recently even reopened its climbing wall at the Ping Recreation Center.
Leanne Chapman, a certified outdoor activities assistant who specializes in her work on the climbing wall, said the reopening of the climbing wall with heightened security was a smooth start.
“We opened in early February … it was really nice to have a sense of normality and have people here,” said Chapman. “We only have a few more precautions that we naturally take with COVID … like using hand sanitizer before and after climbing, or wiping down equipment, or putting certain parts like straps in another container that only happens once a day be applied, stuff like that. “
The climbing wall is open Monday to Thursday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday to Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. so that all students can climb. Chapman encourages all students to try the climbing wall, even if they are scared or have never tried it.
“I just want people to feel welcome to come into the climbing area and try something new,” said Chapman. “In general, I think what we all really want is … to be a place where people can come and feel welcome and be included to try these new things. It is really our goal to connect people and build a really solid community through all of our programs. “
Judd Walker, Assistant Director of Wellbeing and Recreation, is overjoyed with the high attendance at recent Outdoor Pursuits events.
“We reopened the climbing wall this spring,” explained Walker, who focuses on outdoor activities. “So people can come in and have a pretty safe, socially distant time … And for our program, we have day trips to actually get people outside.”
Photo provided by Leanne Chapman.
The outdoor pursuit day trips typically consist of around three hours of hiking in the Athens area led by a guide. In April, Outdoor Pursuits plans to switch gears and focus on paddling and canoeing rather than hiking.
“University doesn’t allow us to go on overnight trips, which is usually some kind of bread and butter. So we had to get a little creative,” said Walker. “But it was cool because my employees were able to concentrate on all the really good hiking and paddling and everything that is literally right here in the city.”
Walker hinted at a possible outdoor climbing competition on the horizon and encouraged students to keep up with OU’s recreational activities to stay engaged and active. The first canoe program will take place on April 1st on one of the university’s wellness days to make the program more accessible.
“I think in general, COVID has been really isolated for a lot of people, and I think this winter in Athens has been particularly long – it was really snowy and gloomy,” Walker said. “I think it’s really important that people get outside for their own spiritual well-being. And that’s a really cool, free way, and we’re going to expose people to things they didn’t even know existed, right here in our own backyard. “
Photo provided by Leanne Chapman.
Students can pre-register online for future events by registering here.