Ozarks Outdoors BaseCamp opens doors

Release Date: 8/29/2011

It's finally finished. After months of work by dedicated students and university staff, the new Ozarks Outdoor BaseCamp has officially opened its doors.

Director of Outdoor and Environmental Experiences Jamie Lewis Hedges is enthusiastic about the new space. "We will be here to provide a place to study, with Wi-Fi, and outdoor/environmentally related movies. Students can enjoy the outdoor evening on our beautiful back patio, learn about Arkansas with our information center, or simply visit with each other in our comfy furniture and – as Lauren says – unique interior decorating surprises!"

Front view of the new Ozarks Outdoors BaseCamp

Front view of the new Ozarks Outdoors BaseCamp.

Lauren Ray, along with Kirk Ross, two of Hedges' student coordinators, were among those who volunteered to get the place in shape during the spring. The U of O's maintenance department did substantial work finishing the project over the summer.

She explained how BaseCamp would work. "BaseCamp will be open Monday – Friday for the same hours as the administrative offices, because it serves as the office for Ozarks Outdoors staff," she said. "In addition, we're striving to host an open house four nights per week, from 7 p.m. to midnight, for students to come hang out, watch movies, play instruments, etc. For these first couple of weeks of the semester, we'll have it open Monday through Thursday, but we'd like to transition over to Thursday through Sunday soon, in order to interfere as little as possible with the Eagle's Nest's business."

BaseCamp will offer a kitchen co-op as well for those interested. "We also have coffee, tea, and organic/natural snacks available for anyone who joins the kitchen co-op for just $10 per semester," added Lauren.

She said anybody can come in and purchase a membership to the co-op for $10 per semester. "Once they're a member, they can purchase any of the natural/organic food and drinks in our kitchen AND they have full access to our cappuccino machine, coffee maker, and tea kettle (as well as select coffees and teas). At the end of the semester, we reimburse all members their original $10 in its entirety UNLESS any of the food/drinks/etc. have been stolen without payment during the semester OR if any of the machines/utensils require maintenance. In that case, we'll deduct an equal amount from each member's $10 in order to pay for those items."

View of the back entrance to the new Ozarks Base Camp.

View of the new Ozarks Outdoors BaseCamp from the back.

The BaseCamp building, formerly a farmhouse, was built in 1921 and was donated to the U of O in 2008 by Associate Professor of Political Science Gilbert Parks Jr. "The place has an interesting history," said Parks. "It was built 1921 by a farmer so his wife could live in town. The soccer field across the street was the site of the Union Army headquarters here during the Civil War. The enormous tulip poplar tree that sits on the property – the largest in the county and possibly the state – was brought by the farmer's wife from Oregon and planted there in 1921."

The center is located in the second house north of Buchanan St. and is clearly marked with "Ozarks Outdoors" signage.

Added Hedges: "I haven't seen many universities that have a cozy little cabin on campus, so we're very fortunate to have a facility like this. For upcoming events, please see our website, http://outdoors.ozarks.edu, and click on the 'Events' tab at the top of the page. That will show you all of the planned events for this academic year. There's a possibility that we could add more and/or cancel currently planned events, so check back often!"

Interior of the Ozarks BaseCamp.

The inside of the Ozarks Outdoors BaseCamp was designed to be inviting, comfortable and very laid back.