MTSU Outdoors Organization Mapping Out Exciting Fall Trips for Students

After recently returning from a 10-day trip to Spain, Middle Tennessee Outdoor Pursuits, better known as MTOP, plans to go full throttle this fall with another exciting line-up of outdoor activities near and far.


The non-academic leisure service coordinated out of the MTSU Campus Recreation Center serves the university community by providing a variety of outdoor activities each semester for students, faculty and staff to experience.


MTOP’s most recent excursion took about 10 adventure-seeking individuals for a hike across parts of Spain where they were able to experience backpacks full of laughter, culture and memories.


The program encourages its members to become leaders both inside and outside the university. Each trip typically contains one or two group leaders as guides such as Monica Haun, executive vice president for the MTSU Student Government Association.


“My biggest takeaway from the trip is to never underestimate yourself,” Haun said of the Spain trip. “Each day on our hike was pretty hefty, I would say 15 to 20 miles a day. After each day I was so proud of myself for making it and not giving up, despite sore feet.”


Haun recounted the memorable views she had while overseas.


“My favorite memory was in San Sebastian when we got to watch the sunset from the highest peak in the area. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen,” Haun added.


Mike Bowen, who serves as the Outdoor Pursuits coordinator, also thoroughly enjoyed the trip, including some of the chance cultural interactions that came along with it.


“The most memorable moment I had was meeting a 41-year-old South Korean, a singer named ‘Moony’ who spoke English. (She) was just a total character,” Bowen said.


Although the group ran into a tad of turbulent weather, it didn’t put a halt to their adventures.


“Our first day of hiking we walked up and over the Pyrenees mountain range with strong winds. The views were surreal and the wind provided a truly epic experience,” Bowen added.


This was the first time MTOP traveled to Spain with its members. Participants paid approximately $1,650, which included airfare, all lodging and four bus rides. Additional fees were food and two train tickets at $45 a piece.


If going overseas isn’t your thing, don’t worry. MTOP provides other outdoors opportunities around the nation that include whitewater rafting, hiking and caving trips throughout the semester. Bowen is finalizing the fall schedule, which will include about 15 different trips, he said.


Anyone interested in participating is required to register and will be charged a fee depending on which venture you choose.


According to Marianna Gibson, marketing director for Campus Recreation, one of the primary goals of the outdoor organization is raise awareness to the MTSU community about trips offered through the program.


The group’s next planned trip will be for upcoming freshmen, where they’ll have the opportunity to come together for a six-day bonding experience while improving their leadership skills during and learn more about the True Blue community.

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