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Student organizations enjoy the outdoors one year after being sent home

<p>After a year of being confined to remote meetings, Miami&#x27;s outdoor organizations are finally back outside.</p>

After a year of being confined to remote meetings, Miami's outdoor organizations are finally back outside.

The sun is shining, the weather is warming up and Miami University student organizations are slowly beginning to meet in-person.

One year ago, student clubs had to stop meeting directly, and instead, many groups held events virtually. Some organizations relied on outdoor vicinities for their events and had to cancel activities for the remainder of the 2020 school year. 

While this semester looks a little different due to COVID-19 restrictions, members of student organizations are excited to have the chance to get out and enjoy the warm weather.

Andrew Slawson, a senior finance major, is the men’s captain of the rowing club at Miami. After being sent home last spring and not having a fall season this year, Slawson looked forward to some normalcy this semester, but club sporting events at Miami are on hold due to COVID-19.

“Through club sports at Miami, we have a travel ban against us per se, so we can’t host or compete in any competitions or regattas until May 15, so through the end of the semester,” Slawson said.

However, he isn’t letting the lack of competitions deter his senior year.

“What is exciting, though, is the last time that we were on the water prior to mid-March was November of 2019,” Slawson said. “We never got in the water before COVID happened in March, so it’s really the first time this semester that a lot of people have rowed in over a year.”

Jenna Prahst, a senior information systems and analytics major, is the women’s captain of the rowing club. She said while this isn’t how she expected her senior season to end, she is happy to be back out on the water at Hueston Woods.

“It’s basically like a normal season just without the competition, which is still nice because that’s more than we had last season or the season before, so it’s slowly getting back to normal,” Prahst said.

Similarly, Whitney Lai, a junior architecture and environmental science double major, was frustrated Miami prohibited clubs from traveling. 

Lai, president of the climbing club, said though the club can’t travel to Red River Gorge, Kentucky or Joshua Tree National Park, California, like it has previously, she is trying to create fun activities that members can do on their own.

“We’re trying to keep people engaged with each other,” Lai said. “With our group chat, people have made their own groups that they feel comfortable going outside with, and I’ve been releasing videos on how to climb safely outdoors since I can’t be there to show them how.”

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Audrey Carr, a senior kinesiology major, is the vice president of the Outdoor Adventure Club (OAC). In a normal semester, OAC would be camping, white water rafting and backpacking. 

But this year, members are confined to campus perimeters. Carr said although the club members haven’t been able to do some of their favorite spring activities, they are making the most of the scenic spots on campus.

“Since we’re not allowed to go off campus as a club, we’ve been hanging out here on the nice days,” Carr said. “We have our hammock hangouts where we just set up in Central Quad, and we grab a frisbee or something, and we all mask up and just hang out in our hammocks together.”

As the semester ends, many club leaders like Carr are looking forward to getting one step closer to normalcy.

“We’ll have plenty of outdoor stuff to do and a bunch of fun stuff to do,” Carr said. “But our plan is, and hopefully what the fall looks like, we’ll be back to normal.”

Additional reporting by Multimedia Editor Maggie Peña