To make outdoor recreation programs, such as climbing and bouldering, accessible for all, the outdoor adventures department at Missouri State University (MSU OA) aims to break down the money barrier by offering student-friendly pricing on all their equipment and programming.
“Students have limited income and they have to be very selective on how they spend that income,” said Austin Money, the assistant director of MSU OA. “It will always be a concern, but what we can do is provide the best deal for them.”
In addition to student-friendly pricing, MSU OA also offers equipment promo deals around popular weekends. For example, during Labor Day weekend, they offered 50% off equipment. Outside of equipment that leaves the building, it is completely free to climb in the gym as a member of campus recreation. If preferred, climbing specific shoes and chalk are each $5 a semester.
To offer these amenities to their campus community, MSU OA works with College Outside. “I can login to my account and select equipment from hundreds of vendors and have one nice easy location for all of it,” explained Money. “We take into account price, quality and functionality on a case by case basis, depending on what equipment we’re looking for.”
The mission of MSU OA is to develop healthy and engaged citizens. By offering the climbing wall and bouldering cave, they are not only providing another fitness opportunity, but also fulfilling a part of the wellness wheel perspective through social and physical wellness. “If we can make the outdoors a passion while they are in school, they are more likely to have the tools they need to make it a life-long passion, maintaining their health through fun activities,” elaborated Money.
Because their climbing wall is in the middle of their rec center, MSU OA does not encounter many marketing issues. But to further promote their offerings, they do host various programs and events such as Glow Climb with black lights, and the Pumped or Stumped Annual Boulder Competition. They also partake in a variety of marketing events and clinics on a monthly basis.
For any rec center to provide a quality climbing program, Money emphasizes you first have to provide a good service by putting money into your most valuable asset – your staff. “They are the ones that will be running your area and more than likely putting most of the effort into maintaining it,” he said. “Appropriate training is fundamental for both risk management and the quality of service you provide – route setting being a part of both of those. If you keep coming up with creative routes for your patrons to solve, they’ll keep coming back.”