Engaging Students Through Epic Adventures

Between going to class, studying for exams and socializing with friends, sometimes it can be hard for students to find the time and motivation to stay active. Instead of simply encouraging students to go to the gym, Houston Baptist University (HBU) is offering a unique way to engage students with fitness.

In January 2012, HBU acquired the Memorial Hermann Hospital System (MHHS) fitness facility, which became known as the HBU Bradshaw Fitness Center. At this time, Joshua Dunn was employed by MHHS, working as a wellness coordinator. With the acquisition by HBU, Dunn was given the opportunity to come aboard at the university.

“For me, it was an easy decision because I love the youthful, vibrant energy of this demographic,” said Dunn. “Upon joining HBU, I was given the task of engaging students and increasing interest and utilization of the fitness facility. I was the acting liaison between the rec center and main campus.”

As a way to grab the attention of students and draw them to the rec center, Dunn launched the Epic Adventures program. The Epic Adventures are one-day events that only require students sign-up in advance and are free of charge.

Events include paintball, dragon boat racing, ninja warrior training, kayaking, horseback riding, stand up paddleboard, hiking, camping and themed team building activities, such as a Zombie Apocalypse Survival game.

“The buzzword for us in higher education is student retention and we have seen programs like Epic Adventures help contribute to this goal,” said Dunn.

According to Dunn, the Epic Adventures help to promote student retention in a variety of ways.

Firstly the programs engage a different demographic of students. “We attempt to create programs that are unconventional in an attempt to be as diverse as possible to catch the attention of students who may not be all that interested in typical intramural sports events,” explained Dunn.

Hosting three to four adventures per semester also encourages learning outside of the classroom and help students learn how to work with one another. “HBU is probably one of the most diverse university’s and as a result, students have the unique opportunity of working across these cultural lines and establish an awesome living-learning community,” he added.

Finally, the Epic Adventures help to instill a passion for lifelong wellness by introducing fun, unique ways of staying healthy and fit. Dunn hopes the events will help motivate students to lead a healthy lifestyle even after they graduate.

Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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