Virginia Commonwealth University competes to be named national outdoor champion

Participants enjoy an Outdoor Adventure Program kayak clinic on the James River.
<br>Photo courtesy of Rec Sports
Participants enjoy an Outdoor Adventure Program kayak clinic on the James River.
Photo courtesy of Rec Sports

Students, faculty, staff and alumni at Virginia Commonwealth University will participate in a host of outdoor activities Sept. 18 to Oct. 15 — including hiking, kayaking, backpacking, bicycling and bird-watching — as the university competes to win the fourth annual Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge.

Hosted by the Outdoor Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to reconnecting millennials with the outdoors, and sponsored by REI, The North Face, Hydro Flask, and ENO, the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge pulls students from more than 90 universities off the couch and into the wilderness. To participate, students simply download the campus challenge app, join their university’s team, and log their outdoor activities during the challenge to score points. Prizes for winners include a national title, free outdoor gear, and bragging rights.

This is VCU’s third year competing in the campus challenge.

“It’s important for students to disconnect from time to time from the hectic pace of college life. Richmond’s easily accessible outdoors provide a great way to do that,” said Joey Parent, assistant director for the Outdoor Adventure Program at VCU Recreational Sports.

In addition to the national outdoor champion, there are more than 30 other individual and regional awards up for grabs. The top winners will receive gear from REI and The North Face. Each sponsor will also host a weekly challenge.

The competition also serves to highlight outdoor activities at campuses across the country.

“Before finding my love for the outdoors, I often felt quite helpless and stagnant. Through discovering the rock climbing community upon coming to college I found a new confidence in myself and my abilities,” said Bridget Condron, a senior at VCU. “I not only found a quietness and humility in nature, but also found awe for my own resiliency, kindness and strength.”

To learn more about the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge, visit and


Subscribe for free to the VCU News email newsletter at and receive a selection of stories, videos, photos, news clips and event listings in your inbox every Monday and Thursday during the academic year.