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CMU students run nationwide outdoors challenge


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A student enjoys a warm day of Autumn by lying in their hammock on campus Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2015.

Central Michigan University students have been running a nationwide campus challenge that encourages students to go outside and exercise.

The Association for Outdoor Research and Education Campus Challenge is described as "a March-Madness-meets-Mother Nature competition in which 98 universities compete to see who can get the most people outside" on their website.

AORE took over the challenge from a different organization and reached out to recreation, parks and leisure services administration faculty member Jordan Bruursema for CMU to help run the challenge.

“Each university is competing to have the most logged hours from their students being in the outdoors,” said Mount Pleasant senior and Campus Challenge coordinator Nichole Murphy. "They can be activities from rock climbing, paddle sports, rafting or canoeing, or as simple as walking or hammocking."

Bruursema, Murphy and other students on their team are working to coordinate and manage the Campus Challenge that started Sept. 16 and ends Oct. 13.

“It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s also cool because it’s such an incredible platform," Murphy said. "I’m really passionate about getting people outside and just seeing the energy and the hype across the U.S. right now is just incredible."

Students post pictures of themselves performing the activities on the Campus Challenge app and the team goes through to approve and grant points. The colleges and individual students compete for higher slots on the app's leaderboard. 

The challenge is important for students because it is a way to have healthier living, learn skills and have some good competition, Bruursema said.

“The outdoors is a place that can be life-changing for folks. Doing activities out there and learning new skills enhances your life,” Bruursema said. “You can build a great community of people and connect with others that maybe you haven't before.”

CMU students are also taking place in the challenge and activities to help move the school up on the leaderboard.

"I have participated by having class outside, walking to and from class, and going on runs in local parks," said Holland senior Jill White. "I think the challenge is important because it motivates people to get up and get outside in a fun way."

Every week mini-competitions take place where students compete to have the most interesting take on the topic.

"Last week, one of the themes for a day, was 'outdoor prom'," said Harrison Township senior Brianna Milton. "People were challenged to go outside in their prom dresses and things like that and do a random activity. The winning group actually went standup paddle-boarding on a lake in prom dresses."

The challenge targets college students, but it's open for university community members or anyone who would like to associate themselves with the school. 

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