After a 10-day summer trip to Spain, Middle Tennessee Outdoor Pursuits, better known as MTOP, plans to go full-throttle this fall with another exciting lineup of outdoor activities near and far.
The nonacademic leisure service, coordinated out of the MTSU Campus Recreation Center, serves the university community by providing a variety of outdoor activities each semester for students, faculty and staff to experience.
MTOP’s most recent excursion took about 10 adventure-seeking individuals for a hike across parts of Spain, where they were able to experience backpacks full of laughter, culture and memories.
The program encourages its members to become leaders both inside and outside the university. Each trip typically contains one or two group leaders as guides, such as Monica Haun, executive vice president of MTSU’s Student Government Association.
“My biggest takeaway from the trip is to never underestimate yourself,” Haun said of the Spain trip. “Each day on our hike was pretty hefty, I would say 15 to 20 miles a day. After each day I was so proud of myself for making it and not giving up, despite sore feet.”
Haun recounted the memorable views she had while overseas.
“My favorite memory was in San Sebastian when we got to watch the sunset from the highest peak in the area. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen,” she said.
Mike Bowen, who serves as the MT Outdoor Pursuits coordinator, said he also thoroughly enjoyed the trip, including some of the chance cultural interactions that came along with it.
“The most memorable moment I had was meeting a 41-year-old South Korean, a singer named ‘Moony,’ who spoke English. (She) was just a total character,” Bowen said.
Although the group ran into turbulent weather, it didn’t put a halt to their adventures.
“Our first day of hiking we walked up and over the Pyrenees mountain range with strong winds. The views were surreal, and the wind provided a truly epic experience,” Bowen said.
This trip to Spain was the first for MTOP and its members. Participants paid approximately $1,650 each, which included airfare, all lodging and four bus rides. Each traveler also paid for food and two $45 train tickets.
Those who prefer U.S. over international travel can enjoy MTOP trips, too. Outdoor opportunities around the nation include whitewater rafting, hiking and caving trips throughout the semester. Bowen is finalizing the fall 2017 schedule, which he said will include about 15 different trips.
Registration is required for all participants, and fees depend on the chosen adventure trip.
Marianna Gibson, marketing director for Campus Recreation, said one of MTOP’s primary goals is raising awareness throughout the MTSU community about trips offered by the program.
The group’s next trip is for upcoming freshmen, where they’ll come together for a six-day bonding experience while improving their leadership skills during and learning more about the True Blue community.
To learn more about the MT outdoors program, visit www.mtsu.edu/camprec/outdoors and the MTOP Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MTOutdoorPursuits. For more information about the MTSU Campus Recreation Center, visit www.mtsu.edu/camprec.
— Jayla Jackson (firstname.lastname@example.org)