Stressed? Take a hike


OREC went to Big Bend National Park during winter break last year. Photo provided by Maddy Walshak

College is stressful. In fact, the word “college” is derived from Latin with “col” meaning to acquire and “lege” meaning stress. (Don’t check that; trust me). Heck, you are probably reading this article to de-stress despite the fact that you should probably be reading your textbook to get ahead. Ideally speaking, of course.

If you bottle up your stress, a nasty reaction could occur, like a panic attack or obsessively watching Netflix with no end in sight. Immersing oneself in nature can magically relieve stress. There is something nature offers that trumps squeezing the bejesus out of a stress ball.

Thankfully, Trinity offers OREC to help you de-stress. The mission of OREC is to help students meet new people, relax and experience the glorious landscapes that Texas has to offer. For the fall semester, OREC has 11 planned trips, most notably trips to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Pace Bend Park and Big Bend National Park. Unfortunately, all of these trips have a limit on the number of people who can attend.

OREC will start the year off with a tubing trip to welcome students back to campus. Up to 60 students can go tubing on Saturday, Sept. 8. When it comes to the number of participants, the tubing trip is an outlier. Usually, only eight to nine students are able to go on the trips.

“We use Trinity vans as transportation to all our vacations and trips. The Trinity vans only hold 11 people. We like to take two to three trip leaders on our trip to effectively run the trip so that only leaves about eight to nine spaces available on the van,” said Kristen Harrison, associate athletic director for recreation and OREC adviser.

Since more students usually wish to go on a trip than the spots available for the trip, OREC uses a lottery system to give all students a fair chance in winning a spot.

“It used to be done on a first-come, first-served basis where whoever had the fastest mouse and could enter in all their information could go, but they changed it to a lottery system to try to get more students involved, so it is not the same students each time. They have [both] entered the names on a randomizer website [and] literally wrote the names down and drawn them out of a hat,” Harrison said.

Many students are left waiting until the next week to try to get a spot on a trip. Repeated stories of people trying all semester to get a spot on a trip but missing out each time has led to the members of OREC asking whether they should offer the trips to more people.

“Do we want to offer bigger trips with more possibilities for more participants to go, or do we want to offer smaller trips with a little bit less participants with a more individualized experience?” Harrison asked.

Ideally, OREC could use as many Trinity vans as they wanted for each trip to accommodate everyone’s wishes. There are, however, only six vans available on campus for all of Trinity to use.

“Unfortunately, the vans fill up so fast. We have one trip planned where they have no vans available. There are only six vans on campus and once they are gone, they are gone. It is kind of a first-come, first-served basis. So if we are able to get multiple vans, we do, but usually they aren’t available,” Harrison said.

Of course, hiking doesn’t have to be done under the supervision of OREC (although they wouldn’t mind). You can do your own hiking in the San Antonio area.

“If you want to stay within San Antonio limits, there are a few parks that offer a couple trails, such as Friedrich Wilderness Park and McAllister Park. Closest to Trinity, though, is Brackenridge, the Botanical Gardens and the Japanese Tea Gardens, all of which are a short distance from campus,” said sophomore and OREC trip leader Jack Braley.

To maximize your time with nature, participate in OREC’s weekly trip drawing. When you don’t get picked, do some local exploring.

“If you want to come adventure with us, make sure you are on our mailing list. Shoot us an email at [email protected], and we can make sure you receive information about how to join,” said sophomore and trip leader Ryanna Chouman.

Nature is the perfect stress reliever, but it can be difficult to find not only the trail to explore but also the group to go with you. Thankfully, OREC solves both of these dilemmas and provides Trinity’s student body exactly what they need, a way to assuage their worries and find an alternative to rewatching “Westworld,” though it’s apparently better the second time.

Make sure to reach out and get to know Trinity’s nature gurus throughout the year. They’ll be happy to guide to you through what hidden natural gems Texas has to offer.