By Alexander Osornio, Oct. 5, 2021

The ASI Adventures program continued to foster intimate spaces for students with a taste for the outdoors in its virtual campfire event held on Sept. 23, inviting CPP students to share and learn from each other’s exploration experiences.

For this latest iteration of the Virtual Campfire, presenters Marshall Fielding and Ian Navarro, ASI Adventures student supervisor and Adventures education coordinator, educated attendants on how to prepare for a backpacking trip. They were also joined by Sophia Hayek, ASI Adventures student supervisor, shared some of her own outdoors experiences with a small intimate group.

Fielding hopes the Adventures team can continue helping students “break the barrier of entry” to outdoor activities by supplying them with necessary knowledge and resources.

They shared online resources on finding backpacking locations, accessible guides for what gear to bring and how to check for weather or safety conditions such as wildfires. Both Fielding and Navarro also shared some of their own backpacking experiences and friendly advice.

The Adventures team was sure to share some of its own aspirations and experiences with those attending, such as Fielding’s recent love of paragliding or Hayek’s love of climbing and hiking with her dog.

While the Adventures team stressed the importance of preparation, it was also sure to talk about the psychological benefits of outdoor recreation. Navarro, a passionate outdoorsman with a lifetime of experience, proclaimed it as a way to gain perspective and distance from the bustle of everyday life.

Navarro asserted that significance that outdoor recreation holds for college students as it helps them create a personal bond with the natural settings in their area.

The Adventures Virtual Campfire began last year with the start of virtual learning at Cal Poly Pomona. With the pause of in-person events, the Adventures program launched the Virtual Campfire events alongside virtual tours of national parks, online trip planning tutorials and invited guest speakers with backgrounds in outdoor recreation.

Fielding added the idea for the Virtual Campfires came from the Joshua Tree National Park rangers who would meet with local climbers every Saturday to share important information about the site.

“We’ve always been inspired by that because it’s such a heartwarming moment where people gather to just talk about their experiences in the outdoors,” he said. “When we went virtual, we figured this would be a great time to start introducing a program like that.”

Additionally, Navarro feels that engaging more with outdoor spaces through a virtual format could help students recognize the importance of advocacy for nature conservation. “If you don’t know about something… how could you be a voice for it?” he said.

The team also used the program as an opportunity to tailor the experience to what attendants would be most interested in. Hayek noted the idea for a campfire on backpacking preparation came from reaching out to students beforehand. Consequently, the event opened with asking students what places they were most interested in visiting, such as Yosemite National Park or Inyo National Forest.

One of the resources Fielding mentioned is the Gear Rental Center which helps students find affordable options for outdoor gear for “everything from a casual day at the beach with friends to overnight backpacking in the wilderness of mountain ranges.” Although the GRC is closed during the fall 2021 semester, Fielding is hopeful for its return in spring.

In addition to virtual programs, ASI Adventures is currently offering in-person programs on fishing, climbing, rappelling and is planning a trip to Joshua Tree National Park. The team also plans to transition the current virtual programs to in-person programs as campus continues to open.

Hayek encourages students with any interest in outdoor recreation to “come down anytime that the wall is open and try a climb” to best familiarize themselves with what the Adventures program has to offer.

To sign up for the next Virtual Campfire, visit the program’s page on ASI Portal. To learn more about outdoor planning, regulation or ideas, contact the ASI Adventures team at their email adventures@cpp.edu.

Graphic courtesy of Justin Oo.

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