By: RACHEL CAIN – Staff Writer
The Outdoor Engagement Center, a new component of the University of Dayton’s Department of Campus Recreation and the centerpiece of the department’s Outdoor Education program, worked in collaboration with other university departments throughout this past semester to host several fitness and kayaking events at the recently renovated and reopened Old River Park.
The OEC, which was established in Aug. 2013, worked alongside Campus Recreation and Facilities Management to coordinate and staff two events this semester involving students participating in fitness classes held outdoors at Old River Park, as opposed to being taught in the customary RecPlex location, said OEC Outdoor Pursuits Assistant Sara Vaughan, a junior geology major.
Vaughan said participants also had the opportunity to kayak on the 1.5 mile long waterway encircling most of the 45-acre park, including the UD Research Institute, during these events.
Vaughan added that the OEC had planned a separate event focused specifically on kayaking.
“There’s been a pretty good turnout,” she said. “There have been at least 20 to 30 people at each event.”
Vaughan said the opportunity to hold events at Old River was the result of Facilities Management approaching Campus Recreation to ask how the department would like to utilize the space.
She said the idea for the Old River events was born then, when “facilities came to us and said ‘We have this space. How can we use it?’”
“I just think it’s a good opportunity that was presented to Campus Recreation that we capitalized on,” Vaughan said.
UD acquired Old River Park in its 2009 purchase of NCR Corp.’s former world headquarters property, a 115-acre parcel including the 1700 S. Patterson Blvd. building, for $18 million, according to a udayton.edu news release from Dec. 21, 2009, the day of the purchase, entitled “University Buys NCR Headquarters.”
The Old River Park area is perfect for kayaking events, Vaughan said, since it has a boat house for storing kayaks and a still body of water. She explained that still water provides safer kayaking conditions than would a larger river, such as the Miami, especially after heavy rains.
Vaughan said she is extremely passionate about the outdoors and nature and wants to share her passion with other students through the OEC hosted events at Old River Park. She described the OEC as the “driving force” behind the recent park events.
Although there are no more upcoming events at Old River Park this academic year, Vaughan said to be on the lookout for more activity next semester.