As campus recreation coordinator, Cambri Shanahan has adventure on the brain.
When WSU Vancouver students call their peers “PCP students,” they aren’t referring to drugs. PCP stands for parking lot/campus/parking lot, and a PCP student is one who does not participate in campus activities beyond the classroom. Choosing to be a PCP student has potentially harmful side effects.
WSU Vancouver’s Recreation Program exists to help keep students on track for graduation through engagement. Study after study shows campus recreation programs positively influence student retention. Students who participate in them report improved time-management skills, academic performance and communication skills. They build community and develop a sense of belonging.
A campus recreation program provides for physical and mental well-being too. Students who participate say they experience reduced stress levels and better overall health, fitness, strength, balance, self-confidence and concentration.
Having a program is not enough
Just because you build a campus recreation program doesn’t mean students will participate. They are consumers like the rest of us. They have differing ideas about how they want to recreate and spend their time beyond coursework, including work and family obligations.
So how does WSU Vancouver’s Recreation Coordinator Cambri Shanahan entice students to do what she knows is good for them? “We empower the students to develop programming,” she said.
Shanahan said WSU Vancouver students are really invested in using feedback to grow the Recreation Program’s activities. “From group fitness classes in the Fitness Center to outdoor trips, we take the lead from students on what they want to do, see and experience,” she said.
About 15 students work for Shanahan and the Recreation Program. All in all, the program offers a Fitness Center, including group fitness classes and personal training; intramural sports; trips; events and equipment rentals.
“My favorite part of the job is sitting down with students and providing mentorship,” said Shanahan. Her staff members need to be independent and have good leadership skills. “Whether they work in the rec office, the Fitness Center or on a trip, there is a lot of autonomy. They have to be equipped to make decisions without me. It’s a skill they can take with them into the workforce,” she said.
Trips are where it’s at
“Trips are really building momentum,” said Shanahan. Thanks to student programming and promotions, trips start filling up the day registration opens.
Vince Chavez, a senior studying biology, said something an advisor told him about the Recreation Programs stuck with him. “She said when I look back on my college career, I’m not going to remember all the nights I spent studying. I will remember the friendships and the community I built,” said Chavez.
Chavez did not grow up taking part in a lot of outdoor activities. “I love the Recreation Program. I’ve learned so much,” he said. “I’ve learned skills in snowboarding, surfing, rock climbing, whitewater rafting and kayaking. I’ve experienced the amazing Pacific Northwest environment, and I’ve made amazing friends.”
Shanahan said sometimes the lesson learned is adaptability. In December, she took a group of students to ski at Hoodoo Butte in the Central Cascade Range of Oregon. There wasn’t any snow, but rather than bask in disappointment, the students adjusted and had a different experience. They rafted the McKenzie River one day and mountain biked on the McKenzie River Trail the next. “We had a great group. The students pushed themselves physically and mentally, and we were still able to have a great adventure.”
One of the most popular trips is the annual Mount Bachelor skiing and snowboarding trip. For $199, students get transportation to Bend, Ore., two nights in a hotel, lift tickets for two days at Mount Bachelor and WSU Vancouver swag. During spring break, students have the opportunity to do some backpacking and canyoneering in Utah. “Students can experience a different landscape,” said Shanahan.
Sticking closer to home
There are plenty of opportunities to be physically and socially active without packing a bag. The Fitness Center on campus offers group fitness classes from yoga to swing dancing. The weight room and cardio machines are available for do-it-yourselfers Monday through Friday. Team sport lovers can sign up to play intramural football, volleyball, soccer or basketball. And the Recreation Program offers special events centered on exercise, sleep, nutrition, managing stress and much more.
Just keep moving forward
With so many options, it’s almost impossible for students not to get involved. Whichever way students choose to engage, Shanahan hopes to see more take advantage of all the Recreation Program has to offer. “We’ll continue to listen to students and fine-tune our offerings. We’ll build on the momentum,” she said. ■