First, there was the tree in the backyard your parents told you not to climb. Then came the rock wall at the mall your friends said was too high. Next was whitewater rafting the summer between sophomore and junior year in college. You remember when you “accidentally” chose the more dangerous left route, even though it’d made news earlier in the week for all the wrong reasons.
Even if these don’t describe the kind of adventures you’ve been on in the past, it’s not too late to start.
“There’s not an age limit on being adventurous,” says Emily Wilk, assistant director of UD’s outdoor education programs. “It all depends on what a person is comfortable with doing.” Campus recreation members can feel more comfortable thanks to UD’s Outdoor Engagement Center. Opened last August near RecPlex in a building that alumni may remember as Rudy’s Fly-Buy, it offers outdoor gear rental, a DIY bike repair station and education clinics.
Wilk offers five tips for anyone seeking a successful time in any neck of the woods.
1. Be spontaneous, at first. Wilk says sitting down and considering all the ins-and-outs is fine once you decide where you want to go. As far as deciding what you want to do, “Go with your gut,” she says. “But also know your limits.”
2. Do some research. Taking a class may seem like a bit of a drag for a spontaneous backpacking trip, but for someone who’s never done it before, it can be invaluable. Wilk says learning as much about the area, the adventure and the people you’re with is always helpful. “It shouldn’t just be about the rush of adrenaline,” she says. “By knowing what local bookstores, restaurants or buildings are nearby, you’ll get a whole new set of places to discover along your path.”
3. Have a plan. What are you going to do first? Where are you going to set up? Wilk says having a plan in mind is important because it helps you make the most of your time. Without one, you could spend hours wandering around. “This is where the research you’ve done comes in handy,” she says.
4. Be prepared. After you figure out where you’re going and what you’re doing, make sure you have what you need. “The last thing you want to happen is to try and go rappelling and realize you have no rope.” Wilk says you also should make sure you’re going to be with a group of people you know, or at least have a friend with you. The Outdoor Engagement Center gives students and staff the materials they need — including backpacks, stoves, tents and sleeping bags — for trips ranging from one day to one week.
5. Have fun. “New experiences are wonderful,” Wilk says. “You get to see new things, meet new people and learn about the part of yourself that you may have thought never existed.” Adventuring, she adds, is one of the most pleasant ways to enjoy the outdoors.