UMPI’s new adventure program lets people play in the great outdoors

Posted Sept. 22, 2010, at 8:48 p.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Kim McCrea wants people to got outside and play.

The University of Maine at Presque Isle lecturer and manager of the campus’ Gentile Hall health facility also is the new director of the school’s Outdoor Adventure Program International, or OAPI, for short.

“OAPI is really a student-run organization,” McCrea said. “I’m kind of here to manage things since the activities take a lot of logistics and planning. I ask my students what they are looking for and keep my ears open.”

McCrea asked and the students responded leading to a full fall semester of activities from rock climbing to flying over a Canadian gorge.

On Oct. 2 McCrea will take the OAPI crowd to Acadia National Park for a day of intermediate and advanced level rock climbing with a rain date of Oct. 3.

Beginners get a chance to scale the rocks on a day trip to Clifton in central Maine on Oct. 30 where rock-climbing guide Lenny Cole will demonstrate the ropes of climbing.

The fee for both trips is $30 for UMPI students and $45 for nonstudents.

An overnight backpacking trip is scheduled for Oct. 23-24 to Gulf Hagas.

Known as the “Grand Canyon of Maine,” Gulf Hagas features dramatic cliffs, waterfalls and rock formations. The trek also covers part of the Appalachian Trail.

The cost of the overnight trip is $50 for students and $65 for nonstudents and registration deadline is Oct. 20.

On Nov. 5 the OAPI crew takes to the air for some zip lining in Grand Falls, New Brunswick, where the steep cable lines carry riders over the white water and rocks of the Grand Falls Gorge. The fee has not been determined for the trip and a passport is required.

Back on solid ground there is an afternoon hike in Aroostook State Park on Nov. 12. This free activity is suitable to all levels of experience and features a hike up Quoggy Jo Mountain.

OAPI goes underground on Nov. 20 with a caving expedition to Quebec. Participants will explore several natural caves and no previous experience is required.

The cost of the trip is $25 for UMPI students and $35 for nonstudents. A valid passport also is required.

The program wraps up the fall semester with a bang on a trip to the Nordic Heritage Center for some biathlon target practice.

Participants will use authentic biathlon rifles and receive instructions from some of the elite athletes who are part of the Maine Winter Sports Center and U.S. Biathlon training in northern Maine.

Though the season just began, McCrea said OAPI has already sponsored one weekend activity — a white-water rafting trip in central Maine.

“That trip went really well,” she said. “Even though we did take an unscheduled swim at the cribwork.”

While McCrea has been at UMPI for seven years working in the school’s athletic training program, this is her first year at the helm of OAPI.

“I took a course on canoe camping on the Allagash and fell in love with that,” McCrea said. “Then a colleague asked me to help teach that course two years later. After that I took a wilderness expedition course and last summer I hiked the Maine portion of the Appalachian Trail [and] I’ve found my passion lays with outdoor rec-reation.”

When the OAPI directorship position opened up, McCrea was a natural fit.

“I’m really excited about this program,” she said. “Just to be able to open students or faculty or local community to some of the natural resources and wonderful areas we have in Maine and surrounding Canada and New England and encourage people to get outside and be active is so important.”

OAPI has a supply of outdoor-related equipment for use by students and which is rented out to nonstudents for a nominal feel, McCrea said.

The bottom line, she added, is doing whatever she can to facilitate getting people out of their inside comfort zones and outside.

“People need to get back to our roots and enjoy what nature has to offer,” McCrea said. “Just maintaining a healthy lifestyle is so crucial with these days [and] hopefully we can offer programs for people at levels they are comfortable with so if they don’t want to do an overnight camp they can join us on an afternoon hike and become familiar with what we have.”

For more information on OAPI and scheduled events, contact McCrea at 768-9401 or the program’s website at http://www.umpi.edu/gentile-hall/oapi.

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