Community service is a focus of the Campus Recreation staff and some of them recently had the opportunity to contribute in a small but meaningful way to the Veterans’ Administration Nursing Home in a partnership with the American Red Cross.
Staff members, led by Associate Director Ray Wiley, assisted the American Red Cross staff in constructing and transporting the planters to the VA Hospital in Murfreesboro on July 10. Participating In the project were Recreation Technician Micah Reiss, graduate assistant Adam Thompson, marketing student Grace Pogue, and facilities student Timquisha Teasley.
The planters will be used by the residents as a form of rehabilitation, therapy, and enjoyment by planting flowers and vegetables. The staff believes in servant leadership, which means to lead by serving and helping others. The Rec Center staff will be returning to the facility to provide further assistance with the planters.
A group MTSU students had the opportunity to come face to face with the grandeur of Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park on a backpacking trip May 11-16.
Participants agreed it was a great experience and said they would recommend a trip to the national park to everyone. The Canyon provides a powerful and inspiring landscape which can overwhelm the senses because of its unfathomable size.
The 8-member group flew to Flagstaff, AZ, May 11 and traveled to the South Rim area before making the 8-mile long, mile-deep descent on May 12, said Mike Bowen, coordinator of Outdoor Pursuits and trip leader on the expedition.
They then enjoyed an almost magical campsite on the sandy shore alongside the powerful Colorado River. The river stretches 277 miles through the canyon which itself is up-to-18 miles wide in places and approximately a mile deep. Almost 5 million people see the Canyon each from the South Rim.
“Hiking in such a landscape felt like walking through a movie set,” Mike describes.
Brenton Andrews found other discoveries. “I found out a lot about hiking, and I found out a lot about myself,” Brenton said. “Traveling to different places and experiencing new activities are important things to do in anyone’s life.”
The vast wonder of the Grand Canyon is awe inspiring but also hot, Andrew added. If you consider making a trek, “start drinking water,” he advises.
The trip provided a memory one participant will hold forever in her heart. ".... It was a recharging and cleansing trip for me," said Katie MacFarlane. Her father had been terminally ill, and the trek provided her a much needed respite from the daily stress of school and the prospect of losing a parent.
"Going to the Grand Canyon with MTOP helped me clear my thoughts and gain perspective....The most important thing that the trip gave me was the last conversation I would have with my dad."
When she returned, Katie shared the details of her adventure, talking about the hike, the scenery and her new friends with her father. "I was able to show him pictures, and he was very proud," she said. Her father passed away the following evening.
"That is a memory that cannot be replaced," she said.
Next year the program seeks to run another big summer backpacking trip along the West Highland Way Trail in Glasgow, Scotland.
Who says studying can’t be fun? Campus Recreation’s trip to Fiji, in conjunction with the Study Abroad office, is proof that you can have fun, learn and grow at the same time.
A group of 21 students and staff experienced the endless beauty of Fiji on a cross-cultural study abroad trip May 22 - June 1. Most agreed that it was an extremely humbling, wonderful experience in which their perspective of life was radically changed.
Ray Wiley, Campus Recreation associate director and trip organizer, said this was the first time he had developed a study abroad trip. The remote location made coordinating logistics a complex process. He added, however, that everything evolved smoothly with very few hitches. He said he feels the trip exceeded expectations.
Participants agree the trip was a huge success! While students were earning three credit hours, they also got to explore the island and make life-changing memories. Students were required to take pictures and blog daily to receive credit.
Activities such as hiking, mountain biking, scuba diving, and visiting schools and churches occupied the majority of their time during the 11 day trip.
“We visited local villages and participated in a Kava ceremony and got to watch the fire walkers,” Ray added.
Students also said their expectations of Fiji were changed upon arrival. While Fiji is portrayed as an ideal vacation destination, it is actually a rather poor country.
“The people there were the nicest folks I’ve ever met,” said Lindsey Smith. “For someone to have so little and be so grateful just blew my mind and made me think about how I viewed my own life”.
For others, the best part of the trip was getting to know the people and their happiness in the little things we tend to take for granted.
“Their happiness was contagious and their love was so genuine,” said Chrissy Wiley. “[This was the] trip of a lifetime”.
The trip was such a success that dates for the 2015 Fiji trip are set for May 28-June 7. For more information, contact Ray Wiley at 615-898-2815.