Outdoor EdVentures at UH Hilo

Explore the Big Island for free this semester

Writer Trixie Croad

Photos Outdoor EdVenture Facebook page

People jumping into the ocean with wetsuits and scuba tanks

Want to explore the Big Island but don’t have a way to get around? Or are you new to Hilo and want to make friends and find fun things to do on the weekends at the same time? I’m here to solve all your problems and tell you about UH Hilo’s Outdoor Edventure program. This program is run out of the Student Life Center and takes students on weekend trips with various activities around the island. On their website they explain the purpose of the program. “Ultimately, participants will gain an appreciation and concern for the natural environment, meet new people, and have a great time.”

I sat down and talked to the associate director of recreation here at UH Hilo, Tommy Hamilton, to ask him more about the Outdoor Edventure program and he has the same message. “It’s fun but it’s educational, and you get to meet people… You get to try on something like a shirt and see what you enjoy.”

Tommy explains that the program got its roots over in the housing department, where, before the new SLC facility was built, he and others used to run weekend trips to Hapuna beach, Mauna Kea, and scuba dive trips for students from the dorms. Now with the new recreation facilities, he and the Outdoor EdVenture program have evolved and moved up to the top end of campus. Tommy says that the program is very adaptable and largely responds to student feedback. “We try to address different groups. Not everyone wants to go to the beach, and not everyone wants to go to the mountain… we try to accommodate the demand,” he says.

Evelin Solyomvari is an international student from Hungary who has utilized these trips on a several occasions. “I’ve been on the whale watching trip twice, and once on the boat trip,” she says. “I had never seen whales in my life before, and I was really happy when I saw there was an opportunity here to do it for free”.

Not only do students have the chance to experience these trips through the program, Tommy explains that the recreation department has lots of job opportunities if students want to get more involved. “We hire more students here than any other part of the university… students are the ones who run most of our activities.”

Kailah Buchanan is a former student and employee of the Outdoor EdVenture program as well as a divemaster and lifeguard at the SLC. “It is, in my opinion, the best place to work on campus. Aside from the things I got to do and the places I got to go, the best part for me was the people I got to connect with,” she says about her time working in aquatics. “Outdoor EdVenture was the most positive experience I had during my undergrad and in Hilo”.

If you’re interested in going on any of these trips the schedule for the semester is included here. If there is something not on here that you would really like to do, feel free to talk to the Aquatics staff in the SLC. Sign up for these trips is at their office in the SLC and opens the Monday morning before the trip. A deposit of $5 is required to hold your spot, but once you turn up on the day and get that back, most trips are totally free! If you’re interested in working for the recreation department, jobs are posted on the student job website sece.its.hawaii.edu

For more photos and information on Outdoor EdVenture head to the Facebook page @OutdoorEdVenture or find them on the hawaii.edu website under recreation.