The mission of the Department of Recreation and Wellness (RecWell) is to create an environment for the University of North Florida (UNF) community that inspires healthy lifestyle choices through valuable programs and services while supporting academic success.
Description of Facility(s)
RecWell at UNF is a large department with diverse facilities, programming and services for our campus community. RecWell covers about 345 acres of the UNF campus, has multiple facilities and fields, and is divided into these units: Aquatics, Competitive Sports, Fitness, Eco Adventure and Wellness. Across these departments, RecWell employs nearly 20 full-time professional staff members and averages around 200 student employees per semester.
Competition Pool Complex
The Competition Pool Complex, an $8 million project, opened in Fall 2021. The facility includes a 25-yard by 50-meter outdoor pool and a multipurpose area available for additional program space. A new position for aquatics and risk management was developed to support pool and lifeguard staff management.
The pool is open to the campus community and supports Division I women’s swimming. The facility is available for open-rec swim, supports student swim club and water polo club, and offers American Red Cross lifeguard training certifications to the campus and local community.
Competitive Sports includes these programs: Field House open recreation, Intramural and Club Sports programs, special events, and a youth sports summer camp.
Facilities in this unit include the Field House — an indoor recreation facility, two tennis courts, two grass fields, one newly renovated artificial turf field and a three-lane track. The Field House is home to our Competitive Sports programming with court space for basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, badminton, pickleball and more. With moveable bleachers and a capacity of 1,280, the Field House doubles as an event venue for the university.
The field and track is a $2 million project due to renovating the track and putting in new artificial turf. A $1 million project is in the works to improve the Intramural Field by adding an equipment shed. The Club Sports practice field lighting will be upgraded to a MUSCO lighting system, and a new restroom facility will be built along with improvements to fencing and bleachers. By the Summer 2023 semester, each of RecWell’s three fields will have major upgrades benefiting our student programs.
The Eco Adventure program offers engaging outdoor programming to our campus and local community. This unit includes the following programs: Osprey Challenge Course, Sky Park, a five-mile trail system including boardwalks, Gear Checkout, Outdoor and Environmental Education, student trips, and a youth summer day camp.
Managed by the Challenge Course coordinator and run by student staff trained to be ropes course facilitators, the Osprey Challenge Course and Sky Park offer a unique experience to groups and individuals. Participant experience outcomes including personal development and awareness of the leadership skills they can contribute by collaborating with other group members to find solutions to challenging activities.
It is through this experiential learning process participants become stronger leaders, problem solvers, clear communicators and ultimately a positive addition to the group. Recently opening in the Fall 2022 semester, the Sky Park is the newest feature to Eco Adventure. The Sky Park is designed for individuals to navigate various elements at 40 feet off the ground.
The five-mile trail system is open to the campus and local community, and includes a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk. The trail head starts at Lake Oneida and some sections include boardwalks and bridges to traverse wetland areas. The trails and surrounding areas support various outdoor and environmental education programming for both the campus and local community. During the school year, local schools schedule field trips facilitated by the student environmental education staff to learn about the flora and fauna native to the area.
Student Wellness Complex
The featured facility for RecWell is the Student Wellness Complex. This facility houses the Dottie Dorion Fitness Center, Osprey Cliff which is an indoor 34-foot climbing wall, group fitness, personal training, other fitness programming and the main business office for the department.
The goal of this facility is to provide quality indoor spaces enabling visitors to participate in activities that will enhance their health and wellness levels and provide them with lifelong wellness and fitness skills for the future. In the first year back post-pandemic, the Student Wellness Complex saw 174,144 total uses and 9,320 group fitness participations. Since opening in 2012, there has been over 1.9 million uses of the facility.
Most group fitness classes are scheduled among the three dedicated indoor group fitness rooms, one of which is the Spin room with 40 Spin bikes, that enable us to offer multiple classes at one time. No matter your fitness level, interests or abilities, there is something for everybody.
The Student Wellness Complex is home to the wellness component of RecWell including Nutrition Services and Peer Health Education. Through Nutrition Services, two wellness dietitians offer free one-on-one nutrition counseling using a Health At Every Size aligned and Intuitive Eating approach. Students can schedule in-person or virtual appointments.
The Peer Health Education program promotes engagement and awareness of health services, resources and programs to the UNF community. The program presents on the topics of alcohol, tobacco and drugs, stress management, nutrition, fitness and sex education to UNF classes.
Part of the Wellness unit, the Frederick and Ophelia Tate Ogier Gardens is the epicenter of innovative environmental and public health programming. Located on one acre, these organic gardens feature row crops, a wide variety of fruit trees, raised vegetable beds and peaceful sitting areas for students to relax.
Following a program review and in consideration of current best practices, RecWell re-organized sports programming into this new unit. Under the leadership of the assistant director of Competitive Sports and Camps, two new coordinator positions were added to oversee the Field House, Intramurals, Club Sports, Youth Sports and Fitness Camp. UNF’s Surf Club team competed in the 2022 National Surfing Championship in California. UNF ranked fourth in the nation and walked away as the 2022 Men’s National Surfing Champion.
Eco Adventure: Gear Checkout and Student Trips
This program takes pride in its close relationship and services to the customer, providing gear and helping them find and plan their next adventure. Popular gear items checked out are kayaks, paddleboards, and camping equipment like tents and sleeping bags. This program also supports student trips.
Last year’s trips included whitewater rafting in North Carolina, beginner climbing in North Carolina, Guana hiking day trips and a Suwannee paddle trip. Eco Adventure staff plan the trips and manage all details so students can enjoy a low-cost adventure while making experiences outside of the classroom.
Fitness and Wellness
Annual highlights from our wellness program include:
- Conducted over 400 fitness assessments.
- Certified close to 100 UNF community members in CPR/first aid.
- Produced over 975 pounds of produce to Lend a Wing, UNF’s food pantry.
- Hosted 500-plus health education and gardening workshops.
- Conducted over 250-plus counseling appointments in Nutrition Services.
- Awarded Excellence in Tobacco Free Campuses and Higher Education from Tobacco Free Jacksonville.
- Received the Platinum Award for Healthiest Company in Jacksonville, Florida.
- Featured on a First Coast Living News segment.
- Eco Adventure’s Gear Checkout is one of the few student outdoor programs in the country that is free of cost.
- The UNF nature trails are recognized by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a National Recreational Trail.
- In Spring 2023, Intramurals will offer a new Billiards League in collaboration with Dining Services and a Innertube Water Polo League in collaboration with our new Competition Pool Complex.
- The state-of-the-art Student Wellness Complex houses the largest fitness center in northeast Florida: The Dottie Dorion Fitness Center. This space boasts 27,000 square feet of fitness floor space and accommodates over 260 exercise stations.
- The indoor 1/8-mile track on the third floor of the Student Wellness Complex circumnavigates the perimeter of the building giving views of the fitness level, atrium and fantastic outdoor views through its large windows.
Social Media Handles
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