OSU’s Adventure Leadership Institute aims to ‘hold onto its mission’ amidst the pandemic

The pandemic’s impact on the indoor climbing center proves to be difficult for ALI given the enclosed space and social distancing rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Kevin Foster, News Contributor

The Adventure Leadership Institute’s operations have changed due to COVID-19 which has impacted the numerous opportunities the program provides for students that range from Wilderness First Aid courses to outdoor excursions.

The pandemic has limited the traditional capabilities of the ALI, due to health and safety guidelines established by Oregon State University, Benton County and the state of Oregon. Even in times of struggle, the ALI holds onto its mission.

“ALI programs offer intentional, purposeful and directed experiences that enhance learning and

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contribute to Oregon State University students’ educational development,” said Josh Norris, the director of the ALI.

ALI has continued to follow its mission of providing students with opportunities for education development while adhering to health concerns by changing how they administer their experiences.

“We have been intentional in our efforts to provide students with both in-person and virtual

experiences,” said Emily Abrams, the ALI operations coordinator. “We are constantly innovating our programs to meet the needs of students that are currently unable to live in Corvallis by providing virtual experiences.”

There were also numerous public health concerns that required direct attention from the ALI,  since many ALI classes are conducted in enclosed spaces and facilities, such as the indoor climbing center.

“[The] ALI implemented a variety of public health modifications to open Dixon’s Indoor Climbing Center,” said Brian Hustoles, the recreational sports associate director of marketing, communications and events. “A reservation system has been set up to help facilitate both capacity and distancing requirements. Climbing areas are separated for bouldering. A water fountain within the facility was converted to a handwashing station. Handwashing pre-and post-session is required.”

Specific classes, like Rock Climbing I, have also experienced some changes due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

“All students have to wear masks and social distance from one another during class time,” said Aubrey Olsen, an OSU student in the Rock Climbing I class fall term. “The masks, although necessary, can make climbing more difficult, and social distancing makes it harder to make new friends.”

Going forward, there were still numerous for-credit classes and multiple non-credit options for students in the winter. Both for-credit and non-credit options can be found through the ALI website.

Some for-credit options:

  • Hiking

  • Local Trails, Bouldering

  • Rock Climbing I

  • Mountaineering I

  • Mountaineering II

  • Wilderness First Aid

  • Bush Craft

  • Snow Travel and Camping

Some non-credit options:

  • Lead Climbing in the Gym

  • Efficient Climber’s Toolbox

  • Self-Rescue

  • Wilderness First Aid

With multiple vaccines being administered in Oregon, there remains the possibility of more programs opening up in the future.

“[The] ALI will continue to adapt and evolve to the realities of the moment and provide students with experiential learning opportunities,” Abrams said.

Restrictions to activities and facilities have made things tougher on the ALI. That being said, they continue to push forward to provide a place for students to come together, have fun and form connections.

“[The] blend of virtual and in-person programming helps to meet students where they are,” Hustoles said. “[It] provides them with a sense of community and engagement during these unique times.”