AORE Association News March 2017 - Page 7

Think Big. Think Wellness.

Wellness is everywhere right now on college campuses. Many of your facilities and departments likely have wellness in their name, as they do here at the University of Minnesota. As outdoor educators, we all know the myriad benefits our programs provide to our students, staff, and the greater communities we are connected to. We also are always looking for ways to better articulate to administrators (both within our departments and in the greater institution) what we do and how we do it.

Our experiences are wellness. They are more wellness than recreation, physical activity, or competition. Within our recreation centers, we reach participants differently. Our participation numbers are not vast, but the experiences are deep. Our programs provide belonging, confidence, and support. Our programs provide wellness through social, emotional, physical, and spiritual conduits that are interwoven into our programs. It’s so much more than a backpacking, climbing, or paddling trip. We know that, but does the president of your university know that?

We need to take this opportunity to help move our programs forward—to show-case the department, through the outdoor program, as a model for wellness. It’s our job to justify our programs within the language and framework of our institutions both on campus and on a national level as an association. I believe that wellness can be that platform to present our programs through a different lens. This lens will put us under a larger umbrella rather than limiting ourselves to the bubble of outdoor recreation. As AORE, we can use this unified message to provide a new perspective to the greater outdoor industry. We can use it as a platform to enhance our outward-facing image nationally and globally.

I encourage you to look at the wellness campaign at your university and sculpt your program messaging so they fit together. Use your department’s well-ness initiatives when developing your strategic plan. You should integrate the themes of wellness more deliberately through the program model. This can include staff training, marketing, and new program development. Use this timing as an opportunity to educate your director from a new perspective. Let your program outcomes help the director better articulate how the department is addressing greater university initiatives. We know how amazing our programs and staff are at affecting individuals’ lives in a positive way, and now we need to make sure the rest of our university knows what we are doing as well.

Mitch Hoffman