Ozarks Outdoors invites students on a Free 'N' Easy Weekend Adventure

Release Date: 8/7/2012

This August, new and returning Ozarks students will have a chance for some exciting outdoor recreation in the Ozarks during the "Free 'N' Easy Weekend Adventure." The three-day post-orientation Ozarks Outdoors event is being sponsored by the Outbackers student organization in partnership with Student Life.

The best part about it, according to Jamie Lewis Hedges, Ozarks' Director of Outdoor and Environmental Experiences, is that students can choose any combination of activities during the three days, making this a real "build-your-own adventure." And thanks to Student Life, it's all available at no cost to any Ozarks student who wants to participate.

The weekend will kick off the evening of Friday, August 24, with a trip to Strawberry Bluff. Located just northeast of Clarksville, the bluff is a popular destination for hikers and climbers alike. Participants will have a chance to explore the bluff then settle in to watch the sunset over a panoramic view of the Arkansas River Valley below.

On Saturday, August 25, the adventure will take students into northeastern Johnson County for a hike along the Ozark Highlands Trail. This 180-mile trail passes through some of the most scenic areas of northwest Arkansas and has been featured in a number of publications, including National Geographic and guidebooks by nature photographer Tim Ernst. The group will make a seven-mile hike, which begins at 9 AM and takes the hikers through the Little Piney Creek watershed, ending at Arkansas State Highway 123.

Saturday evening, students can experience an evening full of fun, food, and friends during an overnight camping trip at Sam's Throne. Located in the Ozark National Forest near Mt. Judea, Sam's Throne offers spectacular views of the valley below and is a popular destination for a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, photography, and wildlife watching.

The following day, Sunday, August 26, students will have a chance to experience another popular outdoor activity, and see why some call Sam's Throne the "Mecca of rock climbing in the Ozarks." The area contains over one hundred named climbing routes of various degrees of difficulty, offering climbing opportunities for students of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced. Students can choose to go rappelling, rock climbing, or bouldering on designated climbing routes.

Students are invited to sign up for this weekend without any additional charge. Hedges says, "This is a good opportunity for students to get involved in outdoor programming where their pocketbook may not have allowed them to do so otherwise." He added that students who wish to take part in any of the weekend activities are welcome to bring their own gear, but need only bring clothing that is appropriate for the activities they're participating in along with two water bottles. Ozarks Outdoors will provide all transportation and climbing equipment (including climbing shoes) and can provide additional gear if needed for the various weekend activities.

The Free 'N' Easy Weekend Adventure is a great way for students to get engaged in the university's outdoor education and recreation program, Hedges explained, "getting them out there and getting their feet wet so they can know what it's about, what they can do." And according to Hedges, this event is just the first of many outdoor and environmental opportunities that will be offered during the upcoming academic year. "There are a number of rock climbing opportunities on the calendar," he said. "Outbackers will be going up to help with the Bearcat Hollow restoration project. The Shooting Sports Club and Anglers are anticipating a full calendar. Ozarks Outdoors is now clearly established - take some time to look at our website to see the other events we're offering throughout the year."

For more information about the Free 'N' Easy Weekend Adventure, contact Ozarks Outdoors by phone at 479-979-1-FUN (1386) or send an email to outdoors@ozarks.edu. To learn more about the Ozarks Outdoors program, visit their website www.outdoors.ozarks.edu .

Register for the Free 'N' Easy Weekend Adventure!