Into the Woods: A Chat with Auburn Outdoors' Scott Dirksen
I recently caught up with Scott Dirksen, coordinator for Campus Recreation's Auburn Outdoors.
Between route setting, planning outdoor adventures, and running the outdoor rental shop, Scott took a few minutes to answer questions.
Be Well: What is Auburn Outdoors?
Scott Dirksen: Auburn outdoors is a fairly new program. We are actually an entity of Campus Recreation and not part of the Outdoor Adventure Club, like some people think. We promote a healthy lifestyle and get people outside and active, whether it’s through backpacking, mountain biking, or just riding bikes around campus. We also show our members cool places around the state and across the country to get them outside learning about the environment. Campus Recreation does the same- we just use our own venue.
BW: Where is Auburn Outdoors located?
SD: We are located under the breezeway of The Rec, down the stairs to the left of The Rec’s main entrance.
BW: Who can use what Auburn Outdoors offers?
SD: Students automatically have full access with membership to the Recreation and Wellness Center. Others, like faculty and staff, who have a membership also have access to Auburn Outdoors.
BW: What does Auburn Outdoors have available for students?
SD: Lots of stuff. First and foremost, we have the climbing wall inside The Rec which is open 2-9 p.m., Monday-Friday, and 2-5 p.m., Sundays. Anyone can climb, and no experience is necessary. In our rental shop, members can rent camping gear, bikes, kayaks, and more- at a price that is super affordable for college students. Members also have free use of our bike shop. Students can work on personal bikes and get advice from our bike experts. We’re not a full-service bike shop, but we're an educational bike shop. Students come and we teach them how to work on a bike, giving them the skills and tools they need to make their own repairs.
BW: Does Auburn Outdoors offer trips?
SD: Yes, we offer trips and workshops. Trips consist of kayaking, backpacking, and mountain biking in Alabama and around the country. Our workshops, offered on campus, teach skills such as backcountry cooking, basics of kayaking, and wilderness survival first aid.
BW: What is the Student Leadership Program?
SD: Along with trips, we have a Student Leadership Program to train students to lead our trips. We teach skills like how to facilitate a group, technical skills, and conflict resolution. Our trip leaders lead voluntarily. They plan, coordinate, and execute these trips for their peers without pay because they are passionate about the outdoors. We hope to get more people involved in the trip leader program, and anyone can join. For those who are interested, I suggest going on trips to see what we’re about and then asking about the program. It’s a good way for students to get leadership experience and peer-to-peer teaching.
BW: What is the most popular item/activity Auburn Outdoors facilitates?
SD: Backpacking, for sure. Our backpacking trip quickly filled up when it opened in January. We also recently returned from the Sipsey Wilderness. Everyone had a great time, and by the time we reached home, some were already planning their next trip!
BW: What’s one thing the Auburn student body should know about Auburn Outdoors?
SD: That we exist! People don’t realize that they are welcome to come and just hang out, to talk to us, and get information about cool places to go. Some seem intimidated by us, but we just want them to come in, take advantage of our services, and utilize what we have to offer.
Anyone who has questions about Auburn Outdoors, or would like to take a closer look at what they have to offer, check out their website here and begin exploring!
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Cat S.