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
How a generous donation is helping students find new appreciation for the local ski mountain.
By Faith Rouillard, Contributing Writer
As the air gets colder and snow begins to fall, one Farmington location prepares for the winter season. Winter is nearing and Titcomb Mountain will soon be the heart of the town, the staff and all the volunteers’ hard work will begin to pay off. The mountain sits just two miles away from the university; a seven-minute drive. Throughout the years, the mountain has become a necessary asset to UMF.
Titcomb Mountain is fit to serve all levels of skiers and snowboarders, from beginners to experts. The mountain has well-kept cross country trails and a terrain park. Titcomb was established in 1939 and is more alive and well than ever before. Night skiing is offered on select evenings throughout the season.
Thanks to a generous donation, full-time students at UMF receive free season passes to Titcomb. “When you pair the free season pass with MO (Mainely Outdoors) rentals, and free learn to ski lessons taught through the Alpine Operations Certificate Program, it really makes skiing accessible to all students here at the university,” says senior and class president, Isaac Seigle.
“It’s impossible for Titcomb to go a day without the mountain being used by someone who is also a student at the university,” said Seigle. The mountain has a deep-seated integration with the university.
Seigle explained how Titcomb means more to him than just skiing. “Titcomb [has been] a part of my life since I was eight is what made me want to go to UMF for ORBA (Outdoor Recreation Business Administration),” he said. “I loved skiing, and I loved Titcomb, and getting an education that would help me do work addressing awareness of the barriers to equity in outdoor recreation was really important to me. Without organizations like Titcomb, I probably wouldn’t have been able to make skiing such a part of my life.”
For the students in the ORBA program at UMF, Titcomb has been a great outlet to show off what the students have learned. “For me, this is a great opportunity to have a management position at a mountain as a student. It will help me later in life,” says Sam Scheff, an ORBA major and the terrain park manager at Titcomb.
Both Scheff and Seigle started working at Titcomb through internships at UMF as requirements for their majors. “Titcomb sees a lot of students wanting to do their internship at the mountain. Once it came time for my internship, it just made sense to me to do it at Titcomb and give back to the mountain that gave me so much throughout my life,” said Seigle. “Being a smaller organization, an internship at Titcomb is also a great first chance for students to stand up and be in a position to take on more responsibility within an organization that is resource strained.”
“The atmosphere is one of the best things about Titcomb. It is so family-friendly and accepting,” said Scheff.
This small mountain operates with the slogan, “The friendliest mountain around.” That goal is embodied by all. “Titcomb is oriented around being a really friendly place that can feel like home,” said Seigle.
This mountain is an incredible resource to the community and our school. “Most know that the mountain is run by mostly volunteers, so it takes a whole community to get it up and running,” said Scheff. “Stop by and come see Titcomb. Come see what we’re all about.”
by Natausha Cogley, Contributing Writer
Tommy Hainsworth (pictured) and Sam Shirley (not pictured) lead a stargazing trip in UMF’s backyard.
Photo courtesy of Sam Shirley.
Mainely Outdoors ventured out on Oct. 4th at 7:30 p.m. for a stargazing trip to Prescott and Intervale field.
UMF Junior, Sam Shirley, has been working for Mainely Outdoors (M.O) for two years now. Due to COVID-19, the company has experienced some limitations with what they can do. “We [M.O] are limited to what we can do because we can’t transport anyone by vans anymore,” Shirley said. “We have to get a little more creative with the stuff we can do. This is just something a little different that we don’t do often.”
This trip took place on Oct. 4 and students met at the M.O. building at 7:30 p.m. The program lasted until 9:00 p.m. The only things necessary to bring were appropriate walking clothes and a blanket if desired.
Students had the opportunity to get some fresh air while enjoying a tranquil evening walk, gazing at the stars and moon as they glisten in the sky.
“We took a short walk to Prescott Field,” Shirley said. “It’s was a relaxing trip–hanging out in the fields, looking at the stars–and it’s a great way to get some fresh air.”
The moon was to be in the waning gibbous phase illuminating the sky. Shirley and his coworker Tommy Hainsworth were there to help point out constellations and stars.
“Tommy and I are not exactly experts at this stuff, but we can point out some basic constellations,” Shirley said. “The moon is relatively bright, so it was a nice night to be out in the field.”
by Faith Rouillard Contributing Writer
Andrew Willihan, Mainely Outdoors Coordinator, and his staff have worked closely with UMF Facilities to construct a unique COVID-19 plan of operations for the 2020-21 school year.
Mainely Outdoors (MO), located next to the Fitness and Recreation Center (FRC), typically provides UMF students and the surrounding community access to outdoor excursions, clinics, and gear rentals. “As a student, you’re limited in terms of storage needed for equipment and limited by your budget,” explains Sam Shirley, a junior majoring in Outdoor Recreation Business Administration (ORBA). “MO offers rentals free for 24 hours to students. It’s a great resource!”
Before COVID-19, MO provided dozens of trips a year throughout the state, where trip participants could use camping gear, mountain bikes, paddleboards, snowshoes, kayaks, and more provided by MO. Now, in order to create a safer environment during the pandemic, MO is only providing mountain bikes and helmet rentals to UMF students. “Currently, we are set up in a format that helps protect us as the employees, as much as the guests and users of [MO],” said Avery Boucher, a MO student staff member.
MO has been following a set of guidelines put in place by UMF Facilities. “Facilities has done an amazing job giving us the tools and resources we need to be able to open and do what we’re doing,” said Willihan. “I feel confident with the way we’re operating.”
Because of the global pandemic, MO is taking meticulous precautions while in operation, such as the one-way route throughout the building in order to maintain social distancing, mask requirements, and providing hand sanitizer. “As the manager, I may be more conservative around how we operate because anything I put in place I first think ‘I’m asking my student staff to do this, too,’” Willihan says. “They have to be in contact, too, so I need to be human conscious first.”
The student lead trips have been restricted to the greater Farmington area. Student leaders are encouraged to lead trips doing physically-distanced activities, such as mountain biking, night hiking, and stargazing. “We are granted a great region to be restricted to,” said Boucher.
Even though MO is being run with less staff than in previous years, they work together as a team and come together with their common love for the outdoors. “Everyone on staff treats it as more than a job,” Shirley says. “We are all so passionate about the outdoors and what we do at MO.”
Mainely Outdoors is using #adventureisnecessary to market themselves this year. This idea stemmed from the outdoors being deemed a safe place for people to be while the virus is active. “We really want to see you,” Willihan says, “we want to get you on a piece of equipment we’re renting and share the outdoors with you.”
UMF students can rent mountain bike equipment at Mainely Outdoors from 11:00 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. To keep up to date on MO’s upcoming events, find them on Facebook—Mainely Outdoors and follow them on Instagram—@umfmainelyoutdoors.
Update: According to an Instagram post from Mainely Outdoors on Sept. 28, 2020, Mainely Outdoors now offers rentals of canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards “until it’s too cold,” the post’s caption says. To reserve paddle sports equipment, e-mail email@example.com.
Tyler Stinson Contributing Writer
There are many ways people can enjoy the cold weather, by ice fishing, snowshoeing, or even staying inside bundled up next to the heater, but shooting down a mountain with a board or a pair of skis on your feet is a considerably more fun activity to many people in the Farmington area. Farmington has always had a huge skiing presence, and winter sports are beloved here, both in town, and at UMF.
As students at UMF, there are a plethora of opportunities to get involved in this exciting winter sport, but even so, a majority of the UMF population has no idea about it. The first benefit students have is the local mountain, Titcomb. This mountain is incredibly close by, about five minutes out of town, and students only need to show their student ID to get a free pass for the season. With this pass, they can come and go as frequently as they want. Another great opportunity that students can take advantage of, is the lessons and rentals through the Mainely Outdoors building located near the Fitness and Recreation Center. This allows students to start skiing at Titcomb even if they’ve never invested the money to purchase their own pair of skis.
Those who are aware of these benefits for students love that the university is as involved as it is, however, with more exposure, and a better knowledge of the opportunities that are provided, the relationship between skiing and the Farmington community can only continue to grow.
Passionate and practiced instructors work 4 to 5 days a week teaching kids, college students and even adults how to ski over at Titcomb. These instructors have been skiing for years, and want to pass their love and knowledge of the sport down to students, so as to keep the popularity of it alive. One of these instructors states, “We’ve all spent the majority of our lives skiing. It’s something we are all extremely passionate about, and we wish more kids took advantage of the opportunities through the university.”
A UMF student, who had managed to figure out about the free season pass and the rentals through the school added, “I had always been interested in skiing, and I found out that [at UMF] it costs me nothing, or next to nothing. I also don’t have to attend a gym class, because it can be used as a PHE credit.” Another student talked about how they just wanted to learn to ski because their older siblings did it, and though they never got into it when they were younger, once they realized how easy to access it was in this area, they decided to give it a try. They found the relevant information through UMF’s Mainely Outdoors and took full advantage.
If you also think you would love to be skiing down a mountain, or just love to be outside and try new things, Farmington is one of the best places you can be. Skiing is something that can be super fun for everyone, and if you are a UMF student looking to be involved in this wonderful winter activity, check out your options on campus for learning how and where you can ski for free. You won’t regret it.