The ASMSU Outdoor Recreation Program (ORP) has been serving students at MSU for over 40 years. Recently it has undergone many changes. Five years ago the ORP relocated from the SOB barn to their current location next to the intramural fields. Two years ago the former director Mike Caveness, who created and grew the ORP for 34 years, retired and was replaced by the current director Ryan Diehl.
Under Diehl’s guidance, the ORP has expanded both the trips program and rental gear inventory. Part of the operational strategy of the ORP is to keep costs as low as possible for students. “Our weekend rental rate, which allows students to take gear out Friday through Monday, is comparable to one day rental rates at other retail shops,” Diehl said.
New gear available to rent includes stand up paddleboards, hockey skates, a variety of rock and ice climbing gear, crash pads, AT touring skis, top-of-the-line splitboards, telemark skis, whitewater kayaks and wetsuits.
Trips are run at a cost-recovery basis. This means the program does not make a profit from trips, they aim only to recover operating costs. Several new excursions have been added in the last two years. These include beginner ice climbing courses, several new hiking and snowshoeing trips and a yoga/stand up paddle boarding offered starting this summer. They continue to offer whitewater rafting, cross country ski tours, snowshoeing trips and a week long spring break trip that includes rock climbing, mountain biking and hiking in southern Utah. Beginning this spring the ORP will also be offering swiftwater rescue courses.
During the ASMSU elections in the spring of 2014 a referendum was passed to increase funding for the ORP. The motion will now go the Board of Regents this May, where they will decide whether to approve the funding. If approved the outdoor recreation fee that students pay to attend MSU will increase from $3.52 to $8. The increased budget would allow the ORP to significantly increase their gear inventory as well as the trips they offer.
According to Diehl, once funding becomes available the ORP will create a Mike Caveness Outdoor Program Scholarship. Scholarships up to $250 will be awarded to MSU students based on financial need to be used for outdoor professional development (e.g. certifications and conferences.)
Anyone interested in a more complete listing of rental gear or trips should check out the ORP’s website at montana.edu/outdoorrecreation or head over to their building, which is open Monday through Saturday.