Many of you know that ConnieLou and I are Young Harris College alumni and that our oldest daughter, Ashley, is currently enrolled at YHC. We try to keep up with what all is happening on campus but every now and then we get a nice surprise. A couple of weeks ago I was clicking through the college website and happened to notice something I haven’t seen before…a page for “YHC Outdoor Adventures”.
Of course, I was intrigued so I clicked on in to check it out. The purpose statement grabbed me right off the bat: “YHC Outdoor Adventures is committed to exposing students to the beauty and culture of the Appalachian Mountains that surround Young Harris College.” As I read on I found out that YHC Outdoor Adventures is a program sponsored by the college with the goal of getting the students outside to do fun things both on campus and in the surrounding area and they have some fun stuff planned like horseback riding, whitewater rafting, bonfires, trips to local fall festivals, a campus campout, picnics even a snow skiing trip during the winter.
As I read through the list of planned events it occurred to me that it would be pretty cool to have a student write a guest post for this blog for some of the events. I got in touch with Dr. Bryan Hayse, the YHCOA faculty advisor, to find out a little more about the program and gauge his interest in having some of the students contribute to this blog. I’m glad to say that Dr. Hayse thought it would be a great idea. To get the ball rolling I asked Dr. Hayse if he’d be willing to do a ‘Question & Answer’ to tell us a bit more about the YHCOA program and other things happening around YHC these days. He agreed so here goes:
SD: Dr. Hayse, to get this Q&A started, tell us a little about yourself, what brought you to Young Harris College and what your role is on campus.
BH: This is my 5th year at Young Harris College and I currently serve as the Associate Vice President for Student Development. I arrived right as the College was welcoming its first junior class in about 100 years. The excitement of growth and infinite possibilities is definitely what attracted and keeps me here. The main areas I oversee are 1) the student conduct system, 2) our first year experience programs (new student orientation, first year foundations, & the common reading program), and the Campus Recreation & Fitness Center.
On a personal note, I’ve been married to my lovely wife, Brandy, for 8 years and we have a 4-year-old son, Braylen.
SD: Can you tell us a little about the YHCOA program and how it came about?
BH: As I said, part of my job includes new student orientation. Because we’re always looking for ways to enhance the college experience, we added an adventure trip component to START orientation this past summer. After each of the 4 summer sessions we took 20-25 new students on an overnight trip. The trip was different after each START and included: 1) a duck trip (one man inflatable raft) down the Nantahala River, 2) zip lining, 3) white water rafting down the Ocoee River, and 4) tubing down the Ocoee River and “The Blob.”
SD: Where were these ideas back when I was a student?!
BH: Because of the success of these programs we banded together a volunteer group of faculty and staff who were interested in sponsoring like events during the school year. This is how YHC Outdoor Adventures was founded. Since the formation this fall we have taken students on many trips. Our free events have been the biggest hits, as you can imagine. Of these, the on-campus campout was probably the most popular. After its success we’ve even talked about making it a regular event.
SD: According to the YHCOA page on the college website, planned events for fall semester include horseback riding, whitewater rafting, bonfires, trips to local fall festivals, a campus campout and picnics and I see that there is a snow skiing trip planned later in the winter. Can you give us some hints about what types of events you might be planning for spring semester?
BH: So far the only thing we have nailed down is the ski trip. Other off campus outings we have talked about are taking students to an indoor climbing gym or participating in a 5K (like a zombie or color run). Depending on what student input we get we’ll schedule additional trips or host other events on campus.
SD: Aside from the physical changes on campus, something I’ve noticed over the past couple of years is there seems to be a lot more going on at YHC for students to get involved in and to keep them on campus during the weekends. Back in the mid-80s when ConnieLou and I were students there were plenty of organizations to get involved in and we had a great outdoor club to get folks outside.
But…there were relatively few campus-wide events on the weekends for the students. For the most part, the campus pretty much deserted from Friday afternoon until late Sunday afternoon except for the handful of us that didn’t join the Friday Afternoon Exodus to head home most every weekend. What sorts of things are going on campus these days in addition to the YHCOA program?
BH: I’m glad you asked. We have made weekend programming a focus for this year. Each weekend we have had multiple events taking place. As you’ll notice, all of our YHC OA events have been on weekends. In addition to that we’ve hosted a Christian concert, 80’s Prom with live tribute band, Campus Activities Board Coffeehouses, a kickball tournament, and a weekend movie…just to name a few. During Family Weekend (October 18-20) some of our evening events for students as well as families include bonfire, Mountain Lion Madness (formerly Midnight Madness), and a concert featuring various campus music ensembles (www.yhc.edu/family). Our goal is to make campus as vibrant on weekends as it is during the week.
SD: We’re looking forward to Family Weekend ourselves. Hopefully we’ll be able to get our schedules arranged to make it up in time for the bonfire but we’ll be around for Mountain lion Madness for sure.
As a YHC alum who loves Young Harris College, it’s great to see that the college is willing to put together a program such as YHC Outdoor Adventures that provides the students with opportunities to enjoy being outdoors on campus and in the surrounding area and not hop in the car and drive home every weekend. Thanks for your willingness to head up the program and to put up with my questions for this blog.
From the Young Harris College website: “Founded more than 125 years ago and historically affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Young Harris College has been transformed into a progressive model of liberal arts education featuring innovative academic programs, state-of-the-art facilities and competitive NCAA Division II athletics-which means more learning opportunities, better teaching, a smarter curriculum, greener living, a stronger community and happier students. Nestled in the southern Appalachian mountains of northeastern Georgia, with more than 1,100 students on its campus, Young Harris College provides an intimate setting that allows students and faculty to work closely, forging nurturing relationships and strong bonds that endure well past graduation.”
For more information about Young Harris College, check out the college website at http://www.yhc.edu.