Colleges around the country offer a variety of activities to help students both connect with the area as well as finding new friendships. Sierra Nevada College has a unique culture given both the location and the activities that entice students to the North Lake Tahoe area. While the snow season for many tends to be the strongest drive, there is no shortage of backpacking, rock climbing, paddle boarding, mountain biking and a variety of other outdoor recreational activities. While many students have past experience in outdoor recreational activities, there are students that attend SNC looking to know their new home better and want to become involved in the culture.
To help connect students with the outdoors, SNC started the Outdoor Adventure (OA) program back in the fall of 2007. Will Hoida, dean of students, helped start the OA program when he noticed many students lacking the means for some of these outdoor activities.
“The idea is that I have seen a lot of people come here for the outdoors, especially the ski and snowboard,” Hoida said. “But, until the snow starts to fly in November/December, a lot of students are twiddling their thumbs. So we thought ‘what a great fit, we’re in this insane outdoor area where we have mountain biking trails just out our back door, a lake two blocks away’. We want to be able to give students access to the outdoors.”
So the program began with just five different trips and has since been such a popular program that expansion to other areas was needed. With that, growth has come more for students to access these fun activities. The gear room rents out a variety of gear to students free of charge to be able to participate in these events. Kyle Kelly, assistant director of Student Affairs and recent alumni, found his main draw to this campus because of the outdoor programs.
“One of the main sells for me originally coming to SNC were the outdoor programs,” Kelly said. “I try and host all of my events around outdoor activities. It is awesome to be employed or even being an RA here because when you do an activity, it’s like ‘Alright, what do I have at my disposal? Paddleboards, backpacks, etc.’ I have all this gear and I think it’s awesome that I can support student affairs even more and the outdoor adventure programs by doing more outdoor activities.”
The outdoors is an essential part of the SNC culture. For Hoida, it’s vital to create these connections to students early so they can truly appreciate their new home.
“I think it’s important. If you are going to come to school up here in Tahoe, a lot of people want to be here to experience the outdoors, but many are just missing that access piece. So we try to help by offering that access piece.” Hoida said.
While it may seem difficult to start a new sport or activity especially at such a drastically different elevation, the programs are designed to be for both beginners to intermediate levels. So Hoida and Kelly recommend that even if students have some concerns, they can be assured that all information needed about the trips will be laid out properly beforehand.
“Most of these trips are aimed at both beginner and intermediates and a lot of our students come here and are already athletes or pretty outdoorsy, but we purposefully keep everything around the beginner and intermediate level. So most of these trips people can access. If the trip is more advanced, like the Yosemite trip, we will let them know so they don’t get in over their heads. But that is the whole idea of a lot of these trips is to get other students to get into this great outdoor environment, to try a new sport and potentially lead them in the direction where they can start doing it on their own.”
One of the most recent trips was the famous Catamaran trip that starts off the year where the Sierra Cloud Catamaran boat takes SNC students on a boat ride along the East shore of Tahoe. It is also one of the least strenuous activities offered; with lounging, music and alcohol as top of the list of things available on the boat, students can know going in that they are in for a great and relaxing time. AJ Black, a senior here at SNC, is impressed that students can get so many great opportunities through these OA trips.
“It’s awesome that a small school like this can provide an experience for students that want to go out, join together and have a good time with each other.” Black said.
This year, the OA trip list has grown tremendously. But even with so many new trips, one trip stands out as a favorite between Hoida and Kelly.
“I am stoked on Yosemite because I have never been to Yosemite.” Kelly said.
“I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but it is pretty hard to beat Yosemite. Hiking into the high country and going out to see Clouds Rest and Lake Tenaya and so many other beautiful spots. It’s a pretty awesome weekend, one of my favorite trips to go on every year with the school,” Hoida said.
The Yosemite trip will be offered Sept. 23 to the 25. The rest of the list of events can be found at the RA desk in Patterson or online.