Wilkes University


Wilkes University Adventure Education Receives Grant, Will Compete in the 2015 Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge

Wilkes will try to get the most people outside and active – vying to win the title of National Outdoor Champion.

The Wilkes University Adventure Education program will compete in the 2015 Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge to win the title of National Outdoor Champion. Wilkes joins 58 other schools representing 30 states in the challenge, which kicks off Sept. 6 and runs to Oct. 17. It’s a six-week Mother-Nature-meets-March-Madness-style competition, and Wilkes is asking the community to get involved. 

The 2015 Campus Challenge aims to engage young people in outdoor recreation – rewarding schools with the most outdoor activities logged by the most people in their campus network, which includes students, faculty, alumni and local community members. The school with the most participants and outdoor activities will be named the National Outdoor Champion, and the top individual will be crowned Outsider of the Year. 

Students, faculty, staff, alumni and the local community are encouraged to participate and help Wilkes win the challenge. During the first week of classes, Wilkes Adventure Education will host Green-WAE Day, which will feature activities, trip sign-ups, grilled bananas and demonstrations to show individuals how to sign up for the National Outdoor Challenge. To participate in the challenge, individuals sign up on the challenge web site at www.oncampuschallenge.org, creating a username and password. Every time they enjoy an outdoor activity, they take a picture and post it to their account, which will link to Wilkes University. 

“Friends and family anywhere can become part of this challenge to help Wilkes,” said Jill Price, Adventure Education coordinator. “The ripple effect is that our students will be motivated to share what they love, which is discovering the outdoors, and they’ll connect their friends and family. And hopefully some people who may not think that they are into the outdoors will help us out and at the same time discover an activity that makes them feel good, alive, rejuvenated, hopeful and happy.”  

Wilkes Adventure Education received a $1,000 grant to participate in the challenge and can earn up to $1,500 more depending on the number of people the University gets outdoors. Half of the initial grant money will go to Top of the Slope Ski Shop Inc., in downtown Wilkes-Barre, to encourage bridge-building between the University and local outdoor retailers. The rest will be used to purchase equipment and encourage the community to participate in the outdoor activities the University will host. 

Price said that the grant encourages people to go outdoors and connect with the places that allow them to be more successful and safe outdoors. 

“We want to be able to tell people what’s going on locally that they can be a part of and we want them to see that Wilkes is doing its part to create some happiness in the Wyoming Valley,” Price said. “Reading articles about how miserable our valley is, statistically speaking, and the high rates of binge drinking and cigarette smoking motivated us to apply for this grant. I want people to find a retreat and happiness outdoors.” 

“Outdoor Nation believes in empowering young people to motivate and mobilize their peers to get into the great outdoors,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. “We are thrilled to welcome 59 schools – 49 more than last year – into the 2015 Campus Challenge for a little friendly competition with an ultimate goal of activating a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts.” 

Launched in 2014, the challenge aims to combat the inactivity crisis prevalent among youth and young adults in America. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average young person spends eight hours in front of a screen and only eight minutes outside and active. The schools involved in this year’s contest enroll a combined total of 850,000 students, in addition to faculty, alumni and local community members – demonstrating the extraordinary reach and potential impact of the challenge. 

Last year, in its pilot program, the Campus Challenge engaged 10 colleges and universities. In eight weeks, 8,390 participants logged almost 44,000 outdoor activities, with many schools reporting a major surge in campus-wide interest in outdoor recreation. Many outdoor programs and outing club members served as organizers for the challenge – planning school-wide activities, promoting individual participation and introducing new outdoor activities to spark interest. The 2015 challenge is presented by The North Face and The REI Foundation. Other sponsors include Adidas, Osprey and CamelBak and Backpacker.