Camp 4: get outside and get fit

Students gather on the Camp 4 yoga deck for a stress relieving yoga session. Photo by Rachel An.
Students gather on the Camp 4 yoga deck for a stress relieving yoga session. Photos by Rachel An.

In Nov. 2015, Maryville College took a great step towards sustainability by signing on to the White House’s “American Campuses Act of Climate” Pledge. In this pledge, the College dedicated itself “to increasing the number of human health and well-being initiatives offered to the MC community by partnering with MC academic and co-curricular programs facilitated by Mountain Challenge.” And a new program is contributing to this promise.

On March 23, Mountain Challenge hosted its first ever Camp 4 outdoor recreation session. Camp 4 is a fitness initiative that was created by the members of Mountain Challenge and the MC athletic community to help combat inactivity on the campus in a fun, new way.
Camp 4 will now occur every Wednesday from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Activities like scaling the Alpine Tower, working the climbing cave, or using the free weights are available all afternoon. Beginning at 4:15 p.m., Wendy Guillaume, a professional instructor, hosts a personal fitness class, and at 5:15 p.m., they wrap up with yoga taught by certified instructor Valery Soltis.

For students, staff, and faculty, this experience is completely free of charge, and for outside community members, a special pricing system has been worked out. Adults start at $10 and kids at $5, and if they take one of Camp 4’s special courtesy cards, the holder gets 50 percent off after four visits. If the card holder reaches seven visits, they get in for free.

For right now, the Camp 4 team plans to keep the activity schedule the same, but they’re exploring the possibility of expanding in the future to incorporate exercises in the College Woods and maybe even add bike rides.

MC senior Caitlyn Hogg, one of the main pioneers on the project, was motivated to help jump start Camp 4 by her thesis, which focuses on physical activity and how to implement a physical fitness plan through MC.

How do we get the people who aren’t student athletes to be active? This was the question Hogg and the Mountain Challenge staff were asking themselves when they came up with the idea for the program.

Hogg was not the first to ask this question. As Mountain Challenge founder, Bruce Guillaume had been pondering the Camp 4 idea for a while. Hogg went on to explain that the inspiration for Camp 4 came from the popular campground location in Yosemite National Park by the same name.

“People go there to climb. They work their stamina and flexibility. So we wanted to create a program that people can join to practice and expand their personal fitness,” Hogg said. “We wanted to create something FOR the student body.”

However, this fitness initiative isn’t exclusively for the students of MC. An integral part of the program is community outreach, and the team that is working to promote Camp 4 on campus worked just as hard to get community members to participate as well.

They went out to local businesses like Vienna Coffee House to distribute fliers, and their social media presence has been strong from the beginning – thanks to members of their team like Tobi Scott and Rachel An.

On their first day, the Camp 4 team was able to bring in 15 MC students and three community members. The second day yielded an even greater turnout.

Perhaps one of the most unique parts of the entire program is how it’s run. Senior Brad Hampton, an intern for Mountain Challenge, says that it’s really the student aspect that’s important.

“Bruce basically asked if I was willing to be all in with Mountain Challenge, and since then I’ve been excited to help cultivate his idea,” Hampton said. “Camp 4 provides opportunities you cannot find anywhere else, and everything you see being done is run by students.”

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