How UMF and Mainely Outdoors program keeps the community thriving outdoorsOctober 28, 2020
We told you about Avery, our new intern who is an outdoor enthusiast and student at University of Maine at Farmington. Here’s a little bit about Avery. And here’s a cool video he shot highlighting his school’s outdoor rec program Mainely Outdoors.
Check out his article below as we continue through October to #keepourspiritsupmaine!
How UMF and Mainely Outdoors program keeps the community thriving outdoors
By Avery Boucher, intern for Activities Guide of Maine
Amidst the global pandemic, the University of Maine school system has welcomed students back onto campus this fall. Face coverings, social distancing, and randomized testing are all required if students want to be present on campus. As the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) students filled the dorms and resumed in-person classes, many students sought creative ways to engage in social activities safely. One campus- driven organization in particular stepped up to the plate; Mainely Outdoors, or better known by most on campus as MO.
MO, best described by the Program Director Andrew Willihan, is an “outdoor recreation-based program that supports getting UMaine Farmington community members outdoors. From introductory instruction to seasoned enthusiasts.” The introduction of Covid-19 has resulted in a surge of outdoor recreation that has developed since March of 2020. MO was geared up and ready to provide for the UMF community. Within the second week of the fall semester, MO was renting gear and leading local trips such as mountain biking at Titcomb Mountain and night hiking at Prescot Field. Both weekly trips have had turnouts in the double digits.
Though MO was cleared by UMF facilities for operations this semester, its operations came with guidelines: thorough sanitization of all equipment, participation in social distancing, and the requirements of face coverings when within 12 feet of one another in an outdoor setting. By conforming to these guidelines, MO has been able to provide the students with outdoor recreation at a time when it has become most needed.
“Our most valuable asset is our location,” said Willihan. “We are in the heart of the western mountains and waterways of Maine. Our next biggest asset is our student staff. The passion, inclusiveness, and work ethic drives the program to be a constant within the community and an outlet for many.”
MO and the UMF campus tend to draw many that are already well versed in the outdoors, although one of the primary goals of MO is to get people who have never engaged in outdoor recreation before. The Farmington campus is immersed in a great geographic location for Mainers and students from other states to earn an education while also partaking in recreation of all sorts.
Due to Covid-19, Mainely Outdoors’ rental equipment and excursions are only available to students and faculty of the UMF. In a normal year, MO would have provided excursions to all UMaine students, faculty, and community members; however, MO hopes to return to regular operations in the near future.