New location increases participation, interest

Activities at the center range from knitting workshops to five-day backpacking trips at the Grand Canyon.

Anna Weggel

Five months after moving from the St. Paul campus to the Minneapolis campus, the Center for Outdoor Adventure has more exposure, interest from students and participation, its program manager said.

Providing activities varying from knitting workshops to five-day backpacking trips at the Grand Canyon, the center, now located in the recreation center, tries to expose students to many different aspects of life.

The center’s program manager, Mitch Hoffman, said it allows students to cheaply participate in dozens of different adventures every year.

“Part of (the relocation) was to try to get it moved over here where the majority of students are,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman said there is more visibility for the center on the Minneapolis campus and the move helps promote participation.

“We’ve just got a lot more exposure with the volume of students that come in and walk through the rec center,” Hoffman said. “People are popping their heads in to see what it’s all about.”

Students can simulate a rock climb in the new office on a climbing wall that reaches from floor to ceiling. Also included in the office are overstuffed bean-bag chairs, books, magazines and music to listen to.

“The office is an open, casual atmosphere,” Hoffman said. “People can come in and lounge and hang out.”

Hoffman said he notifies students of upcoming events and updates with a 2,000-person listserv.

“Spots will fill within hours,” Hoffman said.

Ryan Broshar, an entrepreneurial management and marketing junior who works at the center, said he thinks the move will help the center.

“Now students can actually use the facilities,” Broshar said. “Most Minneapolis kids didn’t know there was a (Center of Outdoor Adventure) office.”

Broshar said he probably wouldn’t be working in the office this year if it were still located in St. Paul.

“It (would have been) inconvenient for me with my busy schedule,” he said.

Piotr Grzywacz, a physics graduate student and regular at the center, said the new location is more convenient for him.

“I don’t have to run on a connecter to sign up for trips,” he said.

Grzywacz said outdoor trips are more common in his home country, Poland. Many participants are new to outdoor adventures, he said, but college is the best time to experience new places.

“(This) is the only time for them to see the great outdoors,” he said. “Most of them will be stuck in their jobs pretty soon,”

The center’s departure from St. Paul should increase participation, former program assistant James Slotto said.

“Exposure at St. Paul was very limited to people who already knew we existed, but the foot traffic through Minneapolis will change that,” he said.

Slotto said one of Minnesota’s greatest assets is easy access to outdoor activities, but many students never take advantage of it.

“(The center) offers an inexpensive way to get out and try something new,” Slotto said. “Or if you’re already hooked, to meet new people who share your interests.”