Weber State University is breaking ground for a new facility on campus, and it’s sure to excite those interested in the great outdoors.
The new project, called the Outdoor Adventure and Welcome Center, will provide a new home for Weber State’s Outdoor Program on Village Drive across the street from the residence halls. It will offer 17,000 square feet of space, cost about $7 million and is expected to be completed in the middle of fall semester 2020.
The building will have a dual purpose. The Adventure Center component will be involved with all things related to outdoor recreation and activities at WSU.
“We have a big, strong Outdoor Recreation Program here at Weber State. It is one of our most successful programs,” Administrative Services Vice President Norm Tarbox said.
The Welcome Center will provide a central location for prospective students and parents to visit, tour the campus and have an introduction to WSU and its outdoor programs. It will also serve as a meeting place for students, a location for new student orientation and a base to launch outdoor trips.
“Not only is it a cool project, but it is an important project for the university,” Tarbox said.
According to Tarbox, the school also hopes to use this facility to brand Weber State as a place where students can get a strong education while also enjoying the great outdoors.
“One of the visions that we have for campus is to add to the coolness factor of Weber State and to help people see it as a destination institution,” Tarbox said. “So capitalizing on our setting … and a facility like this is an asset that we believe can help us do that.”
The new facility will have an expanded rental center with about 10,000 square feet of space. The current 2,800 square foot recreation facility serves about 18,000 people, with 6,000 participants in 200 trips, specific classes and clinics every year.
One area of the building will provide an outdoor technical training center. It will have a three-story climbing center with a number of unique features like a rooftop rappelling and rigging area, a three story catwalk system for scenario rigging and a confined space rescue area. These features will cater to search and rescue, firefighters and recreational rock climbers, all of whom will find some aspect of training that can be done in the building.
The new facility will also allow WSU to grow the raft, paddleboard, ski and other popular fleets.
“It is unique,” Outdoor Program Assistant Director Daniel Turner said. “There are only a handful of facilities like this in the United States that meet this criteria.”
There will be no increase in tuition to pay for the new facility. It will be substantially funded by a redirection of student fees and the remaining part will be from a large grant and private donations.
The facility will be a part of the Outdoor Program’s mission to provide the resources for outdoor adventure to both Weber State University and the greater community through developmental, educational and high-quality programming for students, staff and other participants.
“What this center does for Weber State University and our community is much bigger than what people might think,” Turner said. “The big thing is recruitment and retention.”
Turner also said this facility will showcase WSU’s defining characteristic: the city of Ogden. The area offers skiing, biking, climbing, rafting and other outdoor recreational pursuits. He said, “The programs would teach students about all of these activities that will hopefully serve them throughout their lives, helping them develop healthy active lifestyles.”
Student Affairs Vice President Brett Perozzi said the Outdoor Program is a reflection of Weber State’s student centered philosophy. The university wants them to have a good time while they are participating.
“The main focus of what we are trying to do is to help students be engaged in their community and actually learn something from what they are doing,” Perozzi said. “I think it’s going to be a great bonus for the campus community.”
He also said that outdoor recreation in the United States is a large part of the economy.
Outdoor recreation is an economic powerhouse, according to an Outdoor Industry Association report for 2017. It generates about $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs.
In Utah, 72 percent of residents participate in outdoor recreation each year, the website says. Consumers spent $12.3 billion on outdoor recreation with $3.9 billion paying wages and salaries of workers. That created 110,000 direct jobs.
WSU offers the Outdoor and Community Recreation Education degree with two emphases to choose from. Both can provide students with many job opportunities. For example, there are employment opportunities in senior citizen centers, with children after school, retail, manufacturing, wilderness/adventure therapy and many more.
Cambria Hunter, a senior in her third year at WSU, is in the Outdoor Recreation Administration degree program. “I’m looking forward to the new facility,” Hunter said. “I am mostly excited about the new rock wall … it’s going to be even better than the one we have.”
Not all students participate in the outdoor programs, trips and clinics. Patricia Tomaz, a junior majoring in dance, said she didn’t consider the Outdoor Program in making a decision to attend Weber State. “I love exercise and I love being outdoors,” Tomaz said. “I have a different focus.” She said that she and her friends recreate outdoors but not through Weber.
Whether they participate or not, anyone interested in the program can attend the groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site on Oct. 8. Parking will be available in upper lot W7.
For more information about the center, visit weber.edu/outdoor/adventure-center.html. Contact Outdoor Program Assistant Director Daniel Turner at 801-626-7354 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.