• Fri. Aug 19th, 2022

GCU Base Camp equips students, staff for outdoors

ByDebra J. Aguilar

Nov 17, 2021

Base Camp Equipment Technician Rebecca Thiessen, left, explains the features of one of the center’s sleeping bags to Chase Barnett and Emma Sawatsky at Base Camp Outdoor Recreation.

Story of Lana Sweeten-Shults
Pictures of Ralph Freso
GCU News Desk

Students can hire equipment from the GCU Outdoor Recreation Base Camp on the first floor of the Agave Apartments.

Luke Perkins doesn’t have a lot of free time to take a break in the fresh air. Grand Canyon University’s senior nursing student is in the midst of clinical rotations and lab simulations as he prepares for the National Board licensure exam, which he must pass to begin work as a nurse.

But when he has a minute to get out, he heads to Base Camp, the GCU Outdoor Recreation program’s equipment rental center for students. and for employees too. It is also the go-to resource center for anyone who might have, for example, a question about camping or hiking or who would like to take an introductory abseiling course or learn how to adjust their skis or boards. in snow.

“It’s really amazing,” said Perkins of Base Camp, located on the first floor of the Agave Apartments next to the Colangelo College of Business. “I don’t use it as often as I would like I used it a few times but that kind of changed the game.

Base Camp is a nature lover’s oasis on the GCU campus that has that Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops vibe, but on a smaller scale.

Shelves are stacked with neatly rolled sleeping bags, sleeping pads, backpacks of all colors neatly lined up in rows, tents, hiking poles, cooking utensils and paddleboards for rent. GCU Outdoor Recreation-branded gear, from t-shirts to mugs, is also on sale.

Outdoor recreation manager Chad Schlundt said: “At the end of the day…we want to make sure anyone who wants to go on an adventure can.”

“We have just about everything you need, for the most part, for camping, hiking and other recreational activities,” said Chad Schlundtoutdoor recreation manager for campus recreation.

Base Camp makes it easy to commune with Mother Nature for students who often come to campus with their clothes, bathroom basket, and bedding, but don’t carry their bulky outdoor gear with them to their residence halls, who don’t offer little space.

The establishment for nature lovers opened its doors three years ago, just before the pandemic.

Before that, Schlundt said, “We would send students to different places in the valley, like REI or Arizona Hiking Shack, where it’s really awkward, where it’s like, ‘I don’t have a sleeping bag and I can’t make this trip.’”

Students would go to the nearest store and buy an inferior sleeping bag “and then they would get really cold on the trip.”

This was unacceptable to the outdoor recreation department, so seeing a need, staff wanted to create an equipment resource for students.

“Our tents that we use on adventure trips, we wouldn’t necessarily need all of them on those trips, and we’ve found that students need gear to go,” Schlundt said. “We saw this need. It took us a while to assemble all the equipment. … But we didn’t need to send them anywhere.

It was important to the department not only to make adventure travel more convenient, but also to make it affordable.

“We’re the most affordable in the valley,” Schlundt said of the equipment rental fees, which students can check out by the day, weekend, or week.

It’s $40, for example, to rent a paddleboard at base camp for the weekend, versus $40 for a two-hour rental on Lake Pleasant.

While students have heard about base camp through word of mouth, Schlundt said employees still don’t seem to know about the campus resource. If they want to go camping, hiking, kayaking, or paddleboarding, they also have access to Base Camp gear.

“Over the summer, there were so many staff and faculty here (on campus) planning their own trips. We had stuff just sat down. Come praise it,” he said.

Base Camp Equipment Technician Johnson Malisa folds tent rental returns after cleaning them.

Ultimately, Outdoor Rec just wants to fill a need with the campus community.

“We’re not here to make money,” Schlundt added. What is more important is to connect students to the outdoors and to the GCU community at the same time. “We want students to have a better time in college, get off campus, and build that culture and community with people.”

And GCU excels at building that culture through outdoor recreation, considering that Phoenix, on average, sees about 211 sunny days a year and ranks No. 2 among the sunniest cities in the nation, according to a ranking. earlier this year by move.org: in short, the ideal conditions for many outdoor activities.

In 2017, the University was named the nation’s most outdoor school after winning its division in the National Outdoor Campus Challenge, described as a “Mother Nature meets March Madness” contest in which 100 colleges from across the country competed. for four weeks to see which one could get the most people outdoors and active.

Besides its equipment rentals, Base Camp is also the place to go for advice, information or just to learn about life in the great outdoors.

“Not only do we rent these tents, but we use them for programming to educate and teach students how to prepare. As I just taught an introductory course in nature medicine, so basic preventative techniques and basic first aid in nature,” Schlundt said.

Students can simply introduce themselves and talk to base camp technicians, such as the Business Administration Manager Josiah Leonard, who completed an outdoor discipleship program at his former college in Canada. He enjoys sharing his adventure experiences with other students.

They may ask about proper gear or conditions on certain hiking trails or if there are burning bans in specific areas.

Backpacks await nature lovers.

Base Camp is an invaluable resource for students.

“I own a lot of my own gear,” Leonard said. “But a lot of my friends don’t, so it’s good they have somewhere to go.”

Schlundt said some students might overlook joining their friends on adventure trips just because they don’t have their own equipment.

“There’s a huge stigma in the outdoor recreation industry that you have to have the best gear, and sometimes the barrier is high,” he said. “At the end of the day, we don’t want that stigma and we want to make sure anyone who wants to go on an adventure can.”

Leonard added, “They can come with us, and they don’t have to feel like they’re missing out in some way.”

What Schlundt loves about Base Camp is that students who may not have realized before that they wanted to go camping discover something new to love – and a GCU community that will help them embrace this new passion for the outdoors.

“It’s like, go to base camp,” Schlundt said. “We have you.”

GCU Senior Editor Lana Sweeten-Shults can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-7901.


Base camp

Or: First floor of the Agave Apartments, Building 41

When: 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday

Information: myrec.gcu.edu (here is the link)


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