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Students push boundaries of typical Spring Break

By Krista Savage, For The Miami Student

Miami University students have the opportunity to branch out from the norm this spring break. Campus-wide organizations are offering unique experiences for students. From snorkeling with sea turtles in Maui to backpacking across the Appalachian Trail, Miami students are getting out and getting active.

Opportunities include both credit and non-credit opportunities over the break. Erin Brandyberry, who works in Miami's Study abroad office, handles independent travel and off-campus internships.

"There are later deadlines for students doing independent studies. They handle most of the planning on their own and turn to the university for approval and credit," Brandyberry said. "We usually have around 90 students who use programs through this office over spring break."

The Outdoor Pursuit Center (OPC) provides Miami students with unique travel experiences over spring break. This year, they are offering three trips: Explore Maui, Backpack the Appalachian Trail and Climb Utah.

Jen Siliko, interim director at the OPC, is supervising Explore Maui, a brand new trip this year. It is a non-credit, beginner level trip open to all majors. It is open for registration until Feb. 21, with several spots still available.

Through Explore Maui, students will have the opportunity to go backpacking, stand up paddle boarding, surfing and sea kayaking and snorkeling near Makena. Students will be visiting Haleakala National Park along with a traditional Hawaiian luau.

"We are going to visit an old whaling town called Lahaina, geared around the industry of tourism where we will go on a sea kayaking trip," Siliko said. "We will snorkel with sea turtles, tropical fish and hopefully even see some whales close up."

Another trip, Backpack the Appalachian Trail, is supervised by Hilliary Stradtman, a former Miami student and the current teacher of beginner backpacking. This trip consists of backpacking the last 50 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia as well as camping and hiking. The trip lasts six days, and is open to all majors.

The trip is currently at a maximum capacity of 10 students, but there is a wait list. If enough students apply to the wait list, they will run two groups, starting at opposite ends of the trail.

"Backpacking is very self-sufficient. You're carrying absolutely everything you need for that entire week on your back with you," Stradtman said. "It really helps you put into perspective what you really need. It's a life changing experience that I highly recommend to every student."

The last trip the OPC if offfering is Climb Utah. Students will fly to Denver on Saturday, March 21, where they will meet with supervisor Russell Hobart to continue the trip.

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Students will explore granite and sandstone crags throughout Utah and Colorado's Western Slope. This trip is exclusively climbing, which includes bouldering, sport climbing and traditional climbing.

"To me, Ohio in March is dark and kind of gloomy, but in Colorado it is sunny and the rock looks like it's on fire," Hobart said. "It is invigorating."

Hobart has taken students on trips in the past. Last year he took a group on a similar trip in the same area, with less climbing.

"We had a fantastic time last year, and this year should be just as great of an experience," Hobart said.