The Value of the OP

Charlie Hunter, Campus Life Reporter

The Whitman student body has always valued the Outdoor Program as a unique and invaluable source of opportunities to get outdoors. A niche within Whitman, the Outdoor Program (OP) rental shop lives modestly in the basement of Reid. Adjacent to the post office, the shop adorned with tents, hiking boots and skis contributes to the school’s campus life and culture in many ways.

As every weekend students leave campus in buses filled with gear on a different trip in the area, it’s easy to wonder: “Who even uses the OP?” 

Sophomore Franko Omair was eager in his discussion of the OP and expressed how important he finds the programming. 

“I believe the OP is very valuable at Whitman and on [other] college campuses for both outdoor activity and mental health,” Omair said.

Omair added that while he and his circle of friends don’t use the OP all the time, he has gone on trips before.

As one dives deeper into the OP’s selection of classes and trips, it is easy to see how much this resource has to offer.

Outside of the rental shop and off-campus excursions, the OP extends to different areas of campus, such as the climbing center. Climbing center staff member Zakir Hussain talked through the day-to-day flow in the climbing gym. 

“We average 75 students in the climbing gym a day, and the students who compete on the [climbing] team love what they do,” Hussain said.

The center offers many programs, including a 100-level beginning indoor rock climbing course or a 200-level SSRA on “trad climbing” that meets for four and a half hours on Friday. According to Hussain, “trad climbing” is one of the more difficult disciplines within the sport of climbing.

The same is said about the weekend trips led by the OP. Senior Ben Daume explained that he recently led a rafting trip on the Deschutes River in Oregon. 

“We had thirteen people on the trip,” Daume said. “Freshman through senior, some people spent all summer in the outdoors and some had never slept in a tent.”

Engagement and fun in the outdoors is what the Outdoor Program is all about. Through leading trips, teaching classes and renting equipment, they attempt to bring the mission of inclusion and accessibility in the outdoors to life, and their student leaders are a big reason why. The OP has a large role on campus, even in its modest space in the basement of Reid.