Recreational management 123 adds adventure to learning

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    By ESTHER YU

    Recreational management and youth leadership 123 doesn’t fulfill any general education requirements, nor is it required for recreational management and youth leadership majors; still, it is a popular class that students have difficulty getting into most of the time.

    Two-thirds or more of the students in the class are usually not in the major, said Burton Olsen, a professor in the recreational management and youth leadership department.

    “They’ve just heard about it from other people and would like to participate in the outdoors,” Olsen said.

    An obvious reason to keep the class around then is its popularity. The class gives students the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities so they can better enjoy outdoor recreation and appreciate the environment, Olsen said. Yet, that’s not the only reason that the class, which has existed since 1957, is offered.

    “We find it is a way to orient students to the field of RMYL. We have had students come into the major because they get acquainted with RMYL 123,” Olsen said.

    There are between two and five sections offered every semester or term, which meet once a week for one long activity. The activities offered depend on the teacher and the semester since there are also weather factors.

    This semester, there are four classes offered which meet for 3-4 hour blocks once a week. However, classes usually go on at least one weekend trip. Last Thursday and Friday, for example, Phil Kelly’s class drove down to Southern Utah. They spent two days in the Grand Staircase Escalante Monument, hiking for 16 miles through a variety of terrain including slot canyons and wide desert areas.

    “Not only did our class bond together but we got to enjoy nature. I really felt like we got a pure camping experience away from the crowds,” said Carrie Marquardson, 22, a senior from Bellevue, Wash., majoring in business.

    There is a general list of about 15 activities that teachers choose about 10-12 activities from. This list was created by the leisure services management division of the recreational management and youth leadership department, said Phil Kelly, associate director of intramural activities as well as an RMYL 123 teacher.

    Members in the leisure services management division created a committee a few years ago to create some uniformity between the classes.

    “It was kind of a push in our department to have all the sections in a given class be similar so that if a student took section 400 or section 402 they would get pretty much the same experience,” Kelly said.

    Also, the committee wanted to make sure that individual teachers didn’t start getting into activities that were dangerous or very expensive, Kelly said.

    Kelly gave a description of how Fall Semester classes can differ from Winter Semester classes because of the weather. A typical list for a Winter Semester class can include activities like cross-country skiing, snowcave construction or winter camping, Kelly said.

    Activities that would usually be for the warmer season are backpacking trips, spelunking, caving, a ropes course or hiking. Then, there are activities like canoeing, rock climbing and biking which can be done every semester. Olsen also named some other options an RMYL 123 class can offer, like ski diving, paragliding, scuba diving, paintball tagging and horseback riding.

    “We actually stuck our head into the den of a mother bear and her cubs after she had been immobilized and took pictures and did a little research with Dr. Hal Black (this year),” Olsen said.

    No matter what season, there is always a lecture about minimum impact ethics, otherwise known as leave no trace, as well as an outdoor safety lecture. Depending on the season, the emphasis is either on such things as avalanche and hypothermia or dehydration and flash floods, though all issues are covered.

    Olsen’s RMYL 123 class has a different twist because he teaches his class in conjunction with honors English 302R taught by John Bennion. This slightly alters the students experience as they must write their experiences down in a journal as well as submitting other related papers.

    “The idea is that they go backpacking (or some other activity) and write about it,” Bennion said.

    The class also reads natural history essays by writers like Gary Snyder, Annie Dillard and Terry Tempest. Then, they try to write personal histories in a similar style, Bennion said. Since this class has a writing emphasis promoted by the honors English class, some students discover the recreational class through that approach.

    “I didn’t know about RMYL until I got a notice in the mail that said I needed to take it along with my English class … it’s been a lot of fun,” said Joe Ehat, 22, a sophomore from Fresno, Calif., majoring in business management.

    No matter how students find the class — whether it is in their major or they heard how fun it was, students generally walk away with good memories and outdoor experiences that many BYU students are never even aware of.

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