GORP: Outdoor Adventure
Grinnell Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP) recently explored the Buffalo River Trail of the Ozarks in northern Arkansas. They hiked seven miles each day and then prepared their campsite and meal. The group also opted to hike on a horse trail that ran along a beach, where they camped that night. They even spent parts of another day fording rivers in order to continue their hike.Eight members of the
Although this extended trip was new for GORP, experienced members are planning to create a similar trip during spring break, as well as an end-of-the-year outing--trips they hope will become annual.
GORP is a collection of outdoor recreation programs that offer instructional and recreational opportunities, both on- and off-campus. Unlike many clubs or organizations on campus, GORP does not have a well-defined membership. The group has an e-mail list of 400 students, all of whom have expressed an interest in participating in outdoor activities. These students, along with any other student on campus, can take classes on sailing, climbing, kayaking, first aid, and CPR; classes taught by David Zeiss, assistant professor of physical education and the director of GORP.
Outside of the classroom, however, these students can also participate in any of the day-long outdoor trips that happen nearly every Saturday. A student employed by GORP normally leads each day-trip, and the students travel to surrounding areas in order to ride horses, ski, snow-tube, canoe, kayak, hike, or climb. According to Christine Gerpheide '09, an employee of GORP who has led many trips in the past, these are trips where "no experience is needed."
In addition to these day-long outings, however, GORP usually only offers one extended trip, the Grinnell Outdoor Orientation Program (GOOP), which is specifically designed for incoming first-years. This five-day canoeing trip takes place prior to the start of each academic year. Incoming first-year students can elect to go on the trip, and these first-years are split into groups of five or six that will canoe together under the guidance of one or two upperclass students. In this way, these first-years are able to meet some of their classmates before school begins, and learn more about Grinnell from older students.
Gerpheide and other student-employees of GORP, however, hope to create more opportunities for extended trips, and, in order to help create interest in them, they are "trying to make GORP much more of a resource center." For example, when the day-long trips are impossible because of inclement weather, Gerpheide and other experienced members hope to offer "information sessions" instead, on general topics such as where to find trails, or how to plan day-long trips for the future. Through this type of consistent outreach, they hope not only to increase the participation of its members, but also to parlay this participation into annual, extended trips that provide members of every experience level a chance to share their common interest: an enthusiasm for the outdoors. If these trips can be established, we can expect more Grinnellians to be fording rivers together in the future.