Incoming freshmen attend the Outdoor Adventure Line Camp in New Mexico. Graphic illustration by Olivia Havre | photographer
By Clay Thompson | Art and Life Intern
Every Baylor student knows the long-standing campus tradition of Baylor Line Camp, which introduces incoming students to campus and forges bonds that can last a lifetime. However, even seasoned Baylor students may not know that there is another type of line camp for freshmen: Outdoor Adventure Line Camp.
This unique camp experience is planned and conducted by Baylor Outdoor Recreation – a division dedicated to helping Baylor employees engage in recreational and recreational activities that help “educate individuals for a balanced, holistic and healthy lifestyle,” according to the website. The purpose of OALC is to “participate in team building activities, spend four days and three nights backpacking, rock climbing and whitewater rafting.” Zac Huston, associate director of Outdoor Adventure Campus Recreation, said OALC is more than that.
“What happens on campus during your time on the trail, you get all of that to the nth degree,” Huston said. “They don’t meet 250 other new bears on the trail, but they form really meaningful relationships. It’s really a reflection, that power of reflection that students get when they take the time to unpack and unplug. In many ways, we really created the Baylor experience without even setting foot on campus.”
Huston said Campus Recreation has jumped around in several locations, such as Colorado, Arkansas and North Carolina, to offer both Texan and foreign first-year students more opportunities to access and attend camp. They had settled into a base camp in an area near Taos, New Mexico, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and while they encountered some challenges this year, Huston said he found the camp a success.
“The biggest obstacle we’ve experienced this year has been the New Mexico fires,” Huston said. “There were forest fires in the region where we were in the camp. So the biggest question we asked ourselves was will the fire stop? is the rain coming And like almost every summer in New Mexico, it turned into the monsoon season just a few weeks before we arrived. We stayed in touch with the parents and monitored the situation. But yeah, when we got there the weather was amazing and there was so much connection and community flowing.”
Loveland, Colorado sophomore Sophia Schuemann said the OALC has had a very good year. She attended OALC the year before as a freshman, and this year she was privileged to come back to serve as a student leader herself.
“As a student guide, I basically get to come along and walk them through the things that we’ve been doing — which is rock climbing, backpacking, and whitewater rafting,” Schuemann said. “When I went there the year before as a freshman, I don’t think I realized how much care and effort went into it. Coming back and being that person was pretty cool.”
Schuemann said she wanted to go to the OALC for the first time last year because she found it on the Baylor website and because she had been outdoors all her life. She said she also really enjoyed returning as director that year because she loved getting to know the new freshmen who attended and getting them excited about Baylor.
“It was really fun because all the people that were there went from the experiences I had to the fact that I’ve never been outside in their life and it was kind of cool, a lot more people being exposed when I was never around,” Schumann said. “Coming back this year as a leader with the new freshmen, getting to know them and making them love the campus and the people there – that was just fun.”
Idalou freshman Addison Heinecke said she had never really gone camping before this camp, but activities like backpacking are exciting to her.
“I think what I liked the most was getting so close to people in such a short amount of time,” Heinecke said. “Also the nature, the views were amazing. I felt like I could appreciate nature more and just found this community that I will have at Baylor.”
Heinecke said her time on the trip was great and she was looking forward to trying other outdoor experiences and activities when she arrived in Baylor.
“I think this trip really opened my eyes to a lot more activities and clubs to join once I arrive,” Heinecke said. “I’ve told other students that I was a bit nervous at first because I hadn’t done a lot of the things we wanted to do on the trip, but I really loved it. If it piques your interest but you’re not sure if you want to try it or not, I’d say give it a try because there’s no better place to learn something new than with Outdoor Adventure. Everyone knows what he’s doing. You will find friends and really strong bonds.”