Adventure Outings stays afloat, students on what the program means to them


On the “save.adventure.outings” instagram page, a post with this photo is captioned “A couple faces of the thousands of lives AO has touched.” Photo courtesy of Adventure Outings.

It wasn’t until they finally hit the rapids that he could get his mind off his soaking wetsuit and the 40-degree weather. 

For an hour, Chico State freshman Nathan Solecki stood in the freezing cold rain listening to the whitewater rafting guide’s instructions. Even as they began paddling downstream, his mind was occupied by the harsh weather conditions.

However, once their raft entered the rapids, the adrenaline kicked in and Solecki became filled with excitement. With the help of their whitewater rafting trip guide, Solecki and his fellow students navigated the tight rapids of Northern California’s Trinity River.

“Nothing was holding me back,” Solecki said. “I felt purely excited to be alive.” 

Solecki joined Adventure Outings during his second semester at Chico State and immediately applied to be an assistant trip leader. He was encouraged by the community, leaders and mentors to pursue his love for the outdoors and hopes to become a trip leader.

AO offers students a community and opportunities to explore their interests as they attend trips in the outdoors. Whitewater rafting, backpacking, mountaineering and hiking are just some of the activities that members of the organization can participate in.

“When you realize that it’s something you love and you enjoy and you’re doing it, that for me is the best form of gratification,” Solecki said.

But as the school year came to an end, students like Solecki faced the possibility of the complete removal of AO from Chico State. The subsidized program, dedicated to students and community members with a love for the outdoors, would no longer have been an option at Chico State. 

Trip leader Christopher Sortor is completing his final semester at Chico State and is the vehicle manager for AO. Since transferring to Chico State, he has attended 12 trips and witnessed all that the program has to offer. 

For almost 40 years, AO rented out equipment, granted scholarships for trips and provided other unique services for Chico State students, he said.

Not only are these services giving students opportunities that they otherwise would not have, but Sortor witnessed the lives of students change because of the program.

“There’s a lot of people, myself included, that came to Chico State because of Adventure Outings or were having a rough time, so they came to Adventure Outings and it kept them in school,” Sortor said.

For students like Chico State freshman Victoria Tobel, joining AO can be a deciding factor in their college decision. As she approaches the end of her first year at Chico State, Tobel has gained new friendships and an adventurous community. 

“The funniest, the smartest and just the kindest people,” Tobel said. “They will give you the shirt off your back.”

Since joining AO, Tobel has learned many important skills that will be valuable for her career in the future. She said that AO has taught her that with just a sleeping bag, tent and stove on her back, she can do just about anything.

“That’s what Adventure Outings is to me,” Tobel said. “Empowering adventure.”

Like many other students, Sortor grew up loving the outdoors and, because of AO, was able to attend trips and inspire others. 

“Losing Adventure Outings would be a huge loss to the students that use it as a way to get outside,” Sortor said. “It would basically be like losing a whole community from Chico State.”

After the April 14 meeting, Associated Students agreed to make changes to the budget that would allow AO to remain. The budget still requires approval from the board of directors, but affords AO the ability to stay at Chico State — at least for the time being.

Grace Stark can be reached at [email protected].