Baylor Establishes Outdoor Adventure Living and Learning Center for Students
by Lori Fogleman, director of media relations, (254) 710-6275
Baylor University's latest living and learning center for students could be called its most adventurous yet.
Applications are being taken through Nov. 6 for the Outdoor Adventure Living and Learning Center (OA LLC), a partnership between Baylor's Campus Living and Learning, department of campus recreation and department of health, human performance and recreation (HHPR). The mission of the Outdoor Adventure LLC is to provide students an opportunity for personal growth, intellectual stimulation and leadership skills through outdoor adventure experiences.
"We in Campus Living and Learning are excited to partner with Campus Recreation and HHPR to create another environment that enhances student learning and personal development. Academic partnerships like this one are vital to our mission," said Rishi Sriram, associate director for housing administration and academic initiatives at Baylor.
The OA LLC is designed as a sophomore experience with an option for juniors to return a second year in a leadership capacity. However, for the 2007 inaugural year, all Baylor sophomores and upperclassman students may apply. An application can be downloaded at http://www.baylor.edu/campusrec/oa/llc/.
Housed in the North Village, the OA LLC will capitalize on the inherent benefits and outcomes of challenge and adventure to build relationships, develop strengths, facilitate insight and teach students with interest in the outdoors more about their passions and prepare them to be excellent adventure leaders.
Any Baylor student, from recreation majors or to those majoring in any other academic discipline at the university, can participate in the OA LLC. Organizers said that all experiences and activities have been designed to be useful and meaningful to students based on their particular interests, whether that is "just for the recreation/experiential benefits, students who want to gain leadership skills or for those who are planning on full time or part time work in the profession," said Kelli McMahan, outdoor adventure coordinator at Baylor.
Baylor HHPR faculty members have been vital in the development of the OA LLC. Dr. Dale Connally, associate professor and director of the recreation and leisure services program, and Burnie Battles, assistant professor of HHPR, both serve as teaching associates and as members of the advisory board. Matthew C. Bates serves as the OA LLC graduate director.
"We brainstorm often about how to offer better outdoor experiences for recreation and leisure services students, and how to improve recreational opportunities for all Baylor students. The OA LLC is one of those ideas that will do both," Connally said. "Our majors will be better prepared for outdoor-related professions, and non-majors will gain leadership skills that will help them to succeed in any profession."
The unique environment of outdoor adventure, which often gets students "out of their comfort zone" and faced with challenge (whether physical, mental or social), helps students develop life skills and traits necessary to be successful both in college and in life in general, McMahan said.
"We really believe this is going to be an exciting and unique LLC," she said. "In addition to the natural benefits of outdoor adventure, we will be able to work with the same students for an entire year. We will really be able to invest in their growth intellectually, spiritually and socially and establish the meaningful relationships that we want to in Student Life. Students will have a unique way to gain leadership skills that will benefit them no matter what career they choose."
As part of the OA LLC, students will participate in several weekend outdoor adventure experiences each semester, take cohort classes together to provide a bridge between academic theory and practice in outdoor adventure leadership, attend evening learning seminars with faculty and guest speakers, participate in a semester service activity and attend social events. Other opportunities include attending professional conferences, obtaining related certifications and participating in optional trips.
"Some students can choose a more rigorous or involved path in an effort to be considered for the leadership team at the end of the year," McMahan said. "These types of experiences will include receiving certain certifications, attending a spring break field experience and participating in a 30-day wilderness course as well as other requirements. These students could then apply and be considered for the leadership team. The following year, they would be able to lead other students in pre-determined, entry level outdoor trips."
While all activities of the OA LLC have educational components, some activities of the LLC also focus on the social, service, leadership and spiritual aspects of a student's life.
"In the introduction of Baylor 2012, one of the six themes that shape the Baylor academic community is '...we believe that human beings are a part of nature yet have been given responsibility as stewards of it,'" Connally said. "I hope that the LLC will cause students to take a deeper look at our role in caring for God's creation within the context of the current political, social and religious environments."
The living and learning center model at Baylor is a specialized residential program that has a direct connection with a specific academic program. A strong partnership is formed between an academic program and Campus Living and Learning in an effort to create a seamless learning experience for residential students. The OA LLC joins three other living and learning centers at Baylor - Engineering and Computer Science LLC in the North Village Residential Community, the Honors College LLC in Alexander and Memorial halls, and Leadership Living-Learning Center (LEAD-LLC) in Allen and Dawson halls. Another LLC will be established next year in the under-construction Brooks Village.
For more information about the Outdoor Adventure LLC at Baylor, contact Sriram at (254) 710-6956 or Rishi_Sriram@baylor.edu. McMahan can be reached at (254) 710-7615 or Kelli_McMahan@baylor.edu, or visit the OA LLC website.