Western Colorado University was recognized as the Rocky Mountain Regional Champion in the 2019 Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE) Campus Challenge.
The competition challenged 98 universities from across the nation to get the most students, staff and faculty recreating outside from Sep. 16 through Oct. 13. Each outdoor activity completed was logged online and points were awarded based on the type of activity. Western’s active participants logged over 1,600 activities and accumulated over 31,000 points, resulting in a first-place regional finish and a fourth-place overall finish on the national Division II podium.
With access to over one million acres of public land, Gunnison County is a prime location for outdoor recreation. Western’s AORE Campus Challenge participants camped and climbed at Hartman Rocks, volunteered in the campus garden, and found just enough early season snow to ski in the Crested Butte backcountry.
While the university benefitted from campus-wide participation in this competition, one student’s individual efforts were enough to garner over 2,000 points for Western’s total count and earn him the title of 2019 Rocky Mountain regional individual champion. Colin Frazee, a junior and Wilderness Pursuits (WP) employee, logged an impressive 96 activities over the course of less than one month. As a certified raft guide and president of Western’s Whitewater Club, it came as no surprise that Frazee’s favorite way to get outside during this challenge was rafting in the Gunnison Valley and beyond.
“A majority of my points definitely came from rafting because that’s something I do quite a bit, but I also got a lot of points just from biking around town and I got in some camping as well,” he said.
Frazee noted that living in a place like Gunnison provides ample and unique opportunities for residents to explore new activities they hadn’t previously considered and create personal growth from spending time outside.
“It’s definitely beneficial for our campus and our community at Western to take advantage of the resources we have here and see what we can expose ourselves to. There’s just so much to do and you can learn a lot,” he said.
He understands, however, that outdoor recreation isn’t as innate to everyone as it is to him. He offered advice to any students who aren’t sure how to start pursuing outdoor adventures.
“A good place to come is WP, since we offer trips every weekend and they’re for people of all levels. Clubs at Western are a great too! At the Whitewater Club we take people who have never rafted before and get them into it and show them how to get started. There are so just many different ways to get involved.”
Western’s location in the heart of the Rocky Mountains has fueled students’ desire for adventure inside and outside the classroom for over 100 years. From the towering West Elk Mountains to the seemingly endless trails in Crested Butte, there is no shortage of opportunities to enjoy new outdoor activities and explore public lands at Western.