By Charity Webster, contributing writer
The current pandemic has really made UMF have to think outside the box in the sense of student body activities. This challenge has been extremely difficult due to the past and current restrictions on the students gathering together. Mainely Outdoors (MO) has great programs that students can be involved in and stay socially distanced without a mask. They offer so many COVID-friendly options at no cost to the students. If hiking is your game or if you like snowshoeing in the winter, Mainely Outdoors has you covered.
“We have all types of ability trips, beginner’s trips are the place for someone to learn something new” said Sam Shirley, Student Leader and Kat Robinson, Program Supervisor.
Mainely Outdoors was founded by James Toner, a man who loved the outdoors and wanted to bring that to the UMF student body. He was passionate about this club and the great state of Maine’s outdoor activities. Since then he has passed on this passion to other students like Sam Shirley.
“Sam is currently the passion of MO and why MO is so active at this time, he is the one to continue to drive the club, we are very thankful for the time and effort that Sam put in during COVID and keeping the program alive” Assistant Director of the Fitness and Recreation Center Allison Thayer said.
Shirley clears the paths and lawns at Prescott Trails, maintains the trails all year long, and is currently training Robinson to replace him after he graduates. He has been with MO since his Freshman year. He grooms the cross country trails, and preps and leads the weekly mountain biking trip. You can rent equipment of your choice at MO at no cost to you as long as you agree to return the equipment in a timely manner.
James Toner passed away in 2018, and his legacy lives on through Mainely Outdoors. His scholarship is given to a sophomore who demonstrates a passion for the outdoors and is in a related major. “This is a substantial and giving scholarship for students who may be in the Outdoor Program at UMF.” said Robinson
Activities that MO offers includes canoeing trips, kayaking, camping, mountain biking, and hiking. Winter is fast approaching and they will soon offer snowshoeing, hiking, rock climbing, cross country skiing, indoor ice skating, and some downhill ski trips.
“Leading hiking trips is Robinson’s favorite part about MO, and it’s getting a “bit chilly” for boating but they do rent canoes and kayaks.” said Robinson.
“The most popular activity is coming up November 13, to spend the day at Acadia National Park,” said Shirley. On this day trip to Acadia, they will take a driving tour through part of the park, stop at a variety of roadside stops, and do a few short hikes (< 3 miles). This trip is provided at no cost to students, and they provide the transportation! Be sure to register soon to reserve your spot as this is a popular trip.
Additionally, whenever there is a full moon, Robinson leads a local full moon hike.
Find information on the James Toner Scholarship by visiting the website: https://www.umf.maine.edu/alumni/the-james-toner-memorial-scholarship-fund/ Go to Mainely Outdoors Facebook page and LIKE it, to find out more on upcoming events! Mainely Outdoors is located at 114 Quebec St. Farmington, Maine or call 207-778-7373