DSU students find adventure with ORAC

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The Dixie State University Outdoor Recreation and Adventure Center, also known as the ORAC, gives students the opportunity to experience both sides of the “active learning, active life” promise.

From 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, the ORAC offers affordable equipment for students and faculty to rent for climbing, biking, paddle boarding and more.

“If it’s a walk-in, you just come in and tell us what sport you’re planning on doing and we can accommodate [your plans], whether someone needs a bike or climbing shoes,” Joshua Young said, ORAC employee and sophomore general studies major from Boise.

The center has equipment from climbing harnesses to canoes and mountain bikes. The checkout process can take 10 minutes to an hour depending on the type of equipment a student wants to rent and the amount of equipment needed.

“Everything we have is about the students,” ORAC coordinator Luke Wilkins said. “Everything is geared for them, from the mountain bikes to the kayaks to the paddle boards. Everything is for them.”

Wilkins founded the outdoor recreation center in 2007.

“It was created to give students opportunities to get out of their dorm room(s) and go do something,” Wilkins said. “A big thing that was expressed on campus was that students in the dorms would sit in their dorms and not do anything. Yet it’s Southern Utah and you can do things year round.”

The ORAC is able to keep in mind that students are seeking adventure but on a college budget and helps cater to those students, Haley Erickson, a sophomore communications major from Castle Rock, said.

Renting mountain bikes in town can costs $70 a day, but the ORAC rents bikes to students for $25 the first day and $5 for each additional day. Instead of renting a bike for $490 a week, students can find a similar bike for $55 a week.

Other than gear, the center has a climbing wall inside the Student Activity Center for students to use. For those who want to enjoy the open, the recreation center hosts trips for students for little to no cost. The last trip, which occurred in November, was a free hike around Snow Canyon.

“We make regular trips to places like Snow Canyon and Zion,” Young said. “Angels Landing we try to do every spring and it’s a really good experience for a lot of new people.”

Young said most events can cost around $10 unless the destination is a little further away, like Moab.

“We don’t ever do anything to make money, we only do things to cover the cost,” Young said. “So that $10 fee is really to pay for gas.”

Most events are put on by the five employees who work at the ORAC.

“We usually do easier events so the people who are brand new have a great experience,” Young said.

The ORAC is an unknown resource to many students around campus. Tucked away underneath of the Student Activity Center, it isn’t the easiest to find, Young said.

“I think people just don’t know it’s there, it isn’t really advertised,” Emma Hardy, freshman theater major from Houston, said.

Hardy said she became aware of the center when her family used it to rent paddle boards. Most incoming students are told about the ORAC on campus tours, Scoville said.

“I found out about the ORAC during Freshman orientation during a tour of Dixie’s campus,” Tatum Scoville, freshman psychology major from Layton, said. “I think it’s an unknown resource because a lot of people living in St. George have the necessary resources for outdoor activities already. Outdoor recreation is one thing that St. George is known for.”

Despite the ORAC being an unknown resource, it continues to help introduce people to the nature surrounding the St. George community.

“We have always made events and rentals cheap and affordable and we try to make things fun,” Young said.

The center’s next event is Jan. 28 and all registered participants are to meet at the ORAC at 10 a.m. Members will be mountain biking along the Church Rocks Trail and bike rentals are $10.