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UI students compete against other schools to show they are the most "outdoorsy"

BY CORY PORTER | SEPTEMBER 30, 2014 5:00 AM

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Over the next eight weeks, students from the University of Iowa, along with Iowa City community members, will compete to prove they are the most “outdoorsy.”

The UI is competing with nine other schools across the nation in the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge, an initiative of the Outdoor Foundation, a not-for-profit organization.

“Basically, how the competition works is we’re trying to show that we have the best outdoor programs … and can get the most community involvement in the outdoors as possible,” said UI senior Kelsey Myhre.

Myhre sent the application to Outdoor Nation in May to try to get the UI involved, after a supervisor informed her of the challenge. The competition kicked off during this past weekend, and students participated in the first activity on Sept. 27.

Participants will photograph or record themselves engaged in any kind of outdoor activity, such as biking, hiking, rock climbing, or even gardening. After that, they’ll create an account on Outdoor Nation’s website to represent their school.

Outdoor Nation will award points for activities logged, and at the end of the challenge, whichever school has the most points in outdoor participation will win, in a variety of categories.

Ivan Levin, the senior director of Outdoor Nation, said the goal of the challenge and overall initiative, which is in its first year, “is to ensure a future generation of outdoor enthusiasts.”

Levin and his group wanted to target college-age people, because they perceived a deficit of programs such as YMCA camps or Boy and Girls Clubs once students left secondary education.

“When you get to college, you kind of disconnect from a lot of those types of programs,” he said.

Levin said they are already planning the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge for 2015 and hope to have “up to 50 schools competing against one another in outdoor activities.”

Even if UI isn’t declared the official winner of the challenge, David Patton, assistant director of UI Recreational Services, said it would not have mattered.

“I think we’ve already won, because we got chosen as one of the ten schools to participate,” he said.

Patton said Myhre’s initiative was necessary to the UI being chosen.

“[She] basically spearheaded our application and has been working with me hand-in-hand to plan some of these activities and do a lot of the promotions for this,” he said.

Patton said close to 100 people have signed up so far, and he alone will log “three, four, [or] five activities every day,” along with the others hopefully logging just as many a day.

However, he said, it’s especially important that “the community knows they can participate and that we need them to participate if we want to have any chance.”

Kelly Teeselink, the marketing coordinator at Recreational Services, said she’s prepared for this event by promoting outside of the recreation centers and advertising, where people are at on a daily basis as she wants people to be aware that the community is a part of the competition.

“We could very well win, even though we’re not by mountains and … oceans and things like that; we do have a lot to offer in terms of nature and being outside,” Teeselink said.


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