On the evening of October 7th, students gathered on the Field House lawn in the cool fall air to take part in the Campus Campout, an event hosted by a group of Recreation and Outdoor Education (ROE) students for their ROE 398 Program Planning class. Music rang out into the evening as new friends bonded during games of croquet and badminton while other chatter over a barbeque dinner.
"It's supposed to help us start learning how to plan and organize events, which we will have to do in outdoor recreation," Victoria Dinkel said. Dinkel and four other students were in charge of creating, funding and promoting the event.
Shelby Deutsch, another member of the group, said that the ultimate goal of the campout was focused on bringing various students across campus together.
"It's a community builder," she said. "We wanted to get students out of their dorms and hang out, play some games. I think it also got a lot of people talk to people they normally wouldn't have."
The students also got help from the Gunnison Community by receiving food donations from City Market and Gunnison Vitamin and Health Food. The Gunnison Sockeyes also served as a sponsor and gave lessons on fly fishing casting for the attendees.
Associated with Trout Unlimited, the Sockeyes are an on-campus club that promotes conservation. They go fly fishing together and perform service work around the Valley.
"There's no better time to practice casting when there's nothing on the hook to lose," said Austin Noel, a member of the Program Planning group and an officer of the Gunnison Sockeyes.
The newly minted Croquet Club also made an appearance at the campout. Western's newest club's purpose is to bring together students interested in learning the game or want to hang out with fellow Croquet fans.
Students were able to learn the basics of the game while playing with the club's brand-new equipment. The club's president, Shawn Seigert, is in the same Program Planning class and asked his fellow students if he could his club for the event.
Meanwhile, others in attendance went head to head in multiple games of badminton. It was never clear which times won, but the laughter shared within them seemed to be the only thing that mattered. Games like Apples to Apples and Bananagrams were played during the barbeque dinner.
While this year's campout was for a class, the hosts hope to see the event becoming a tradition.
"I do hope it becomes an annual things," Deutsch explained. "It's a safe way to camp and it's a lot of fun." Deutsch added that in the future, hopefully the event could be held earlier in the year so the attendees can also camp out on the lawn overnight.
Nevertheless, the group of students were pleased with the turnout and hope to see it grow in the future.
Articles and photos by Roberta Marquette-Strain.
This story was originally published in the Top O' the World on October 19th, 2016.