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University Recreation


Information and Resources

This page is your home for outdoor recreation information, resources, and research. Read below for posts linked to our "Get Outside" social media series (a series providing resources outlining reasons to play outside), location recommendations, maps, and more!

Get Outside Series - Ask an Expert Videos - Local Recreation - Maps


Outdoor Recreation and Social Distancing

All recommendations are for those individuals who, to their knowledge, are well and have not been exposed to Covid-19/Coronavirus.

The following are things to consider when planning outdoor recreation compatible with social distancing as recommended by the CDC.

Social Distancing is a strategy to limit the spread of infectious disease by limiting close contact with other people. Social distancing can be maintained by avoiding situations in which you are around other people and, if you can’t maintain isolation, remaining six feet away from other people.

  1. Travel Distance
    • Remember that the farther you have to go, the more likely you will have to stop along the way.
    • During stops for food, gas, etc, maintain social distancing practices. Be thorough with hand washing. Recommend additional use of hand sanitizer upon returning to your vehicle.
  2. Nearby Population Centers
    • What large towns and population centers are nearby? This influences how easily you can socially distance yourself during your trip.
    • If going near large population centers, check their status beforehand. If there is community spread in that area, consider a new destination.
  3. Destination Popularity
    • How popular is the specific location you’re considering?
      • Avoid highly popular areas, especially if they’re near a larger population center.
      • EX. Devil’s Lake State Park, Wisconsin Dells, Granite Peak Ski Area
  4. Solo or Small Group?
    • It is not always feasible to go on trips alone. If you are going on trips with others:
      • Keep group size small, 4-5 at most.
      • Ensure no group members have been exposed and, if they were, that their 14-day self-quarantine has been completed
      • Do not go out will sick group members
      • When in the field, practice social distancing as much as possible. Recommend separate mess kits, thorough dish cleaning, and solo-sleeping arrangements.
    • If one of your team members comes down with symptoms while you are on trip:
      • Isolate them as best as is possible.
      • Evacuate. Hike/paddle/etc. out of the recreation area and practice isolation and social distancing on the way home as best as able.
      • Upon returning home, self-isolate (the whole group) and follow directions from the CDC and healthcare professionals.
  5. Equipment Care
    • If you are borrowing equipment, wash it before use following manufacturer instructions.
    • Upon return, thoroughly wash all of your equipment.

"Get Outside" Social Media Series

Mental Health - Hardiness

Relevant now more than ever, the psychological construct hardiness refers to a person’s ability to “Turn stressful events into growth-inducing, rather than debilitating, experiences” (Andre, Williams, Schwartz, & Bullard, 2017, p. 17). Outdoor recreation and outdoor adventure programs have long been linked to building hardiness in participants (Chang, Davidson, Conklin, & Ewert, 2019) simply by the events one experiences when outdoors. Building hardiness through outdoor recreation takes time, and is an outcome that is borne not from simple outdoor participation, but through choosing to challenge oneself through their recreation. To build hardiness and stress management, a recreationalist should engage in “challenge by choice”, a style of recreating in which one pushes their limits whether it be by trying a new activity, putting oneself in an unfamiliar situation, or pushing themselves physically.
The research discusses hardiness as having three main levels or categories to itself, those being Commitment, Control, and Challenge (Sheard & Golby, 2006). The first, Commitment, refers to continuing the activity rather than withdrawing. This could be as simple as continuing to paddle when you’re tired and ready to go home. Control is the aspect by which an individual sees themselves as influencing events, rather than being controlled by them - like the hiker that encounters a washed out trail and blazes a new one rather than calling it a day. Challenge is what one experiences when the situation is viewed as changeable and as an opportunity, rather than a threat. One might see this in the disc golfer that accidentally chucks their drive into the trees and chooses to play it out rather than simply retrieving it.

Works Cited

Mental Health - Resilience

     This week’s Get Outside series topic is the psychological construct known as resilience. Resilience, similar to last week’s topic of hardiness, refers one’s ability to handle or cope with stress. Resilience differs from hardiness in that it refers not to how one views a difficult situation but how well one recovers from it and what one learns from such situations (Robertson & Cooper, 2013). Resilience, however, is not useful only in stressful situations. Robertson and Cooper discuss resilience as a component of a person’s psychology that not only enables one to maintain their mental health when faced with adversity, but that enables people to focus on relevant tasks at home/work and work effectively towards goals as well.
     Ewert and Yoshino (2011) posit that greater levels of resilience can be fostered by involvement in outdoor adventure due to the resilience-enhancing variables that are often present in said environments. Variables like social support, self-confidence, development of mastery or competence, and the strengthening of coping strategies are common in outdoor recreation contexts and are empirically proven to strengthen an individual’s resilience. In addition, Allan and McKenna (2019) suggest that processing strategies found in outdoor recreation work to foster resilience. Some ideas such as providing oneself with challenges, taking time for meaningful reflection, and going on solo adventures are just some of the strategies a recreationalist can employ to boost their resilience.

Works Cited

Mental Health - Self-Efficacy

     A popular topic in the relevant literature and a predictor of well-being, self-efficacy is defined as an individual’s belief in their ability to complete certain tasks (Bandura, 2012). Self-efficacy is discussed as both task-specific and general, where the former refers to an individual’s perceived confidence in a specific task (i.e. cooking self-efficacy). The latter refers to self-efficacy as a general concept, our topic for this week’s Get Outside series. General self-efficacy is an important concept for college students in particular, as it has been proven to have a positive correlational relationship with positive psychological characteristics like dispositional optimism and subjective well-being (Yu & Luo, 2018). In short, higher self-efficacy can serve to raise an individual’s feelings of optimism and well-being.
     Mutz and Muller (2016) argue that outdoor adventures can serve to foster positive psychological characteristics including self-efficacy due to the experiences an individual engages in when recreating outdoors. Their research hypothesizes that common occurrences in outdoor adventure such as successfully surmounting challenges and achieving mastery over skills serve to foster growth in self-efficacy. Sibthorp (2003) supports this with his original research, noting that “[Outdoor] circumstances combine to make an adventure experience ideal for self-efficacy development” (p. 87). So next time you recreate outdoors remember that you’re improving more than just your ability to play outside!

Works Cited

Mental Health - Emotional Intelligence

     An important psychological concept for everyone, college students especially, is emotion. How a person recognizes, understands, and reacts to their own and others’ emotions can have lasting effects on multiple variables relevant to success and satisfaction both as a student and as a person. Emotional Intelligence (EI), defined by the concept’s creators as one’s ability to monitor one’s own emotions, classify them, and use that information to guide thoughts and actions, has been proven in the research to positively influence academic success (Brown, Bucich, Double, Jiang, McCann & Minbashian, 2019), leadership skills (Hayashi & Ewert, 2013), and overall life satisfaction (Ardahan & Mert, 2012), all of which are important predictors of success in school and in later life. Brown et. al. identifies EI as having four key branches of characteristics: Perceiving emotions accurately, using emotions to inform decisions, understanding emotions, and managing emotions to up-regulate the positive while down-regulating the negative [151].
     Research conducted on college students and on high school students transitioning into college has found that participating in outdoor recreation and outdoor adventure programs serves to significantly increase individuals’ self-reported levels for emotional intelligence (Hayashi & Ewert, 2013, Belknap & Schwartz, 2017). Interestingly Belknap & Schwartz found that one’s motivation for recreating outdoors has a meaningful influence on how large an increase participants see in their EI. They found that motivation for achievement and stimulation, community building, and escaping social and physical pressures correlated with the greatest gains in EI levels, followed by a middle gains group motivated by interest in nature education [77]. This suggests that while one will likely see growth in their emotional intelligence by recreating outdoors, doing so for the right reasons will serve to further that growth. So next time you’re headed out think about why you’re going, not just what you’re going to do!

Works Cited

Ask an Expert Videos

How to Set Up a Tent

UREC Outdoors presents a brief overview of how to set up your backpacking tent, using an Alps Mountaineering Lynx 3P for demonstration.

How to Pack Up a Tent

UREC Outdoors briefly demonstrates how to quickly and efficiently pack up your backpacking tent. Demo equipment is an Alps Mountaineering Lynx 3P backpacking tent.

Places to Visit - Brown County

Wequiock Falls County Park

Wequiock Falls County Park is a small roadside park located in Brown County. Formed from part of the Niagara escarpment, the 25ft tall waterfall runs at an impressive level in the spring and reduces to a steady trickle in the summer. The fall freezes in the winter, presenting a picturesque frozen flow. A set of wooden and stone stairs leads from the roadside down into the small glen.
Photo date: 3/23/2020

Address: 3426 Bay Settlement Road - Green Bay, WI 54311
Amenities: Picnic tables, drinking water, restrooms
Activities: Sightseeing, photography, ice climbing

Devil's River State Trail

Built from an old railway system, the over 14 mile long Devil's River State Trail passes through several small communities as it meanders through Brown and Manitowoc Counties. The crushed gravel trail supports a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities while passing through farmland, prairie, river, and wetland areas. Be sure to check out one or both of the two railway (now trail) bridges on your local journey! Click here for info on WI trail etiquette and safety guidelines.

Denmark Trailhead: Intersection of Railroad Ave. and E Pine St. in Denmark, WI
Trailhead Amenities: Shelter building, restrooms, parking
Activities: Hiking/walking, cycling, snowmobiling, xc skiing, snowshoeing, birding

He-Nis-Ra Park

Known for its ski trails, He-Nis-Ra Park in Howard is an excellent choice for a local afternoon of recreation. The park was named in 1965 and since then has been added to in land, mapping, trail grading, and facilities. Located near King Elementary School and Lombardi Middle School, He-Nis-Ra’s 2.3 miles of trail meander through hardwood trails and wetland in a series of loops. Click Here for a map of He-Nis-Ra winter trails!

Trailhead: 1732-1802 S Point Rd, Green Bay, WI 
Trailhead Amenities: Picnic areas, parking
Activities: Hiking/walking, mountain biking, xc skiing, snowshoeing,

Baird Creek East Loop

Nestled within a large contiguous stretch of greenway on the east side of Green Bay, the Baird Creek East Loop is a must-visit for the Brown County hiker, trail runner, or mountain biker. Founded in 1997, the Greenway containing this 2.5 mile loop is managed by the Baird Creek Preservation Foundation and is home to old growth forests and Baird Creek itself. With a total elevation change of just over 200ft this trail segment presents a scenic and moderately challenging experience for visitors.

Trailhead: 158 – 398 Superior Road, Green Bay 
Trailhead Amenities: Parking
Activities: Hiking/walking, mountain biking, trail running

Maps and Trail Resources

Coming Soon