By Maria Karin Walczuk, Arts & Community Editor
With monthly courses that can fulfill university prerequisites or expand your job résumé, the Outdoor EdVenture program through the UH Hilo Student Life Center (SLC) offers students a variety of opportunities for the well informed. Monthly lifeguarding courses, CPR training, van driver training and scuba diving certification are among the specializations shared. Recently eight new divers were certified in the lengthy two full weekends of training.
“[Outdoor edventure] fits a niche for most people,” says Mackenzie Slayton, a scuba instructor herself and Outdoor EdVenture coordinator. Originally from central California, Slayton is more than pleased to be on the Big Island.
“I love the islands,” Slayton continued, “and Outdoor EdVenture is a great opportunity for those new to the island, or those who want to explore their own island.”
As a student you can take advantage every weekend of different outings: hiking, biking, paddle boarding, kayaking, movie nights at the Hilo Kress cinema, trips to hapuna beach, the volcano, and Mauna Kea summit stargazing, alongside much more. Most trips require just a $5 deposit, which is returned upon attendance. One exception is a submarine ride which costs $25, including transportation to Kona and back.
The most popular trip is to Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, the place of refuge on the Kona side. Alongside this snorkeling attraction, the place of refuge is a historically significant place for Hawaiians and serves as an edifying EdVenture for students who tag along.
Slayton was originally involved in student events a couple years back through the housing department on the UH Hilo campus. At the time, small scale outgoings were organized for dormitory residents. Now Outdoor EdVenture is the leading organization through student affairs for bringing students together to visit and explore the island of Hawai`i, enjoy time off from university studies and develop friendships. Slayton admitted working for outdoor edventure is a dream job.
Over 2,600 students participated in the past 2012-2013 school year. The demographic of participants depends itself upon the excursion. Slayton spoke of how there are many students from the Big Island who have not had the chance to visit certain areas of the island, Mauna Kea for example.
“Some people from the Big Island who have never seen snow get to experience it for the first time themselves…The sunset and the view of all the island is [also] remarkable,” spoke Slayton.
Outdoor EdVenture mission’s statement is one word: participation. It is about developing meaningful connections, says Slayton, “We get good feedback, and the neat thing is that we always try to have new trips based upon student interest.”
If a student has had a certain experience with ATVs, horseback riding, or even ziplines, Outdoor EdVenture further welcomes students to put in their personal requests. Slayton concluded, “We aim to incorporate the ideas of students.”