Newswise — While the winter cold means snowbound doldrums on many college campuses, Doug Carty subscribes to the remedy often touted by experts: “Stay active, get some light, and spend time with others,” as the best way to beat the winter blues. Carty, director of campus recreation at Franklin Pierce University, has actively implemented these three helpful points in a popular program of winter recreation to help students at the Rindge, N.H., school embrace and get the most from the colder months.
He and his colleagues have developed a series of on- and off-campus activities—turning the university’s most prime real estate into a winter terrain park, building a tropical beach for an up-all-night event, and sending students on weekly recreation trips—that get students out of the dorms and into outdoor pursuits that have proven to be successful way to beat the winter doldrums that affect so many undergrads at colleges in wintry climates.
The recreation staff and a team of students at Franklin Pierce build a large “terrain park” in the center of campus (on the sweeping hillside directly in front of the president’s office) each winter for snow-board stunts, ski tricks and grinding. “We carve the terrain park out of huge piles of snow, we install rails, build jumps and organize a day-long competition, with T-shirts, lift tickets and other prizes,” Carty says. The rails were a gift from local Crotched Mountain ski resort. “They bought new ones and donated their old ones, which work just fine, to us,” he explains.
This year’s “Rail-Jam 2011” terrain-park extravaganza is slated for Saturday, February 5 from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Carty’s team of student volunteers will each receive “old-school winter bomber hats” for their work. “We’ll have music and some hot chocolate for skiers and riders,” he says.
Dr. James Birge, president of Franklin Pierce University, says he doesn’t mind having his scenic vista replaced by a student terrain park for a few months. “On the contrary, I look forward to seeing that part of campus take on a new life as a gathering point and center of activity in winter,” he says. “It’s great to see our very talented students enjoying our beautiful campus and having so much fun taking part in the skiing and riding events, and their classmates who turn out to watch and cheer them on.”
“Because of our location, Franklin Pierce usually draws a number of students who are excellent skiers and riders,” notes Doug Carty. “So the park also draws a large segment of the student population who come out as spectators.” Franklin Pierce University’s 1200-acre lakeside campus is perfect for outdoor recreation, year-round. Winter activities include ice skating, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing and other activities…but some of the sports organized by Carty are somewhat atypical. One of the students’ favorites: “When the lake freezes solid, we organize snow-kiting, and participants are pulled along the ice on skis or a snow board using the power of wind and a very large kite,” he explains.
The university’s weekly winter Outdoor Adventure program, open to all students, organizes weekend activities—and transportation to them using the university’s shuttle vans—across New England. “I have a map,” explains Carty, “and I have placed a pin in Rindge, N.H., and drew a wide circle around it showing all locations that are a two-hour drive or less from campus.” Each weekend Carty and other staff members take a group of students to activities of their choice in these areas.
“Most are outdoor destinations, such as skiing, winter hiking and snowboarding on some of the best mountains in New Hampshire and Vermont,” he says. “Others are more creative, like indoor skydiving at a facility in Nashua, rock climbing and other activities that keep students active during the winter months.” How does he know the students enjoy the programs? “Everyone seems to have a great time, and just about everyone’s asleep during the van ride back to campus.”
Carty, who has a degree in outdoor recreation also organizes a series of on-campus activities for students during the winter months. “My job is to keep students active,” he says, “and to provide some ideas and guidance to help them tap their ideas and channel their energy in a fun and positive way.”
This includes an annual up-all-night event, dubbed “The Cure for Cabin Fever,” which takes place in February. The event utilizes the university’s 72,000-square foot air frame facility for a different warm-weather theme each year.
This year, on February 25, the brightly illuminated building will be transformed into a beach paradise from 8:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. “We’ll be doing a tropical theme,” Carty says, “trucking in tons of sand for a beach, setting up palm trees, mechanical sharks, beach volleyball and other fun summer-style activities…even some tropical animals from New England Reptile Distributors,” he says. “The students love it, and this year should be no exception.”
More information on Franklin Pierce University: http://www.franklinpierce.edu/