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Division of Student Affairs
New Brunswick

How Recreation’s GO Outdoors Program Introduces Students to the Wilderness

Participants in the GO Outdoors program pose in front of a cliff face
Participants in a GO Outdoors program pose in front of a cliff face
Emma Vitureira

Although New Brunswick, in central New Jersey, is surrounded by opportunities for excursions into the natural world, the longest trip that many students at Rutgers—New Brunswick regularly take is from one campus to another.  

GO Outdoors, a Recreation program designed to get students into the outdoors, aims to change that with accessible trips and courses available to students and other Rutgers community members within and outside of the Division of Student Affairs. 

In the program, students have kayaked off the coast of Maryland, rock climbed in eastern Pennsylvania, backpacked in the Adirondacks, and hiked in the Delaware Water Gap. All trips are offered at discounted rates to students, and both transportation and any necessary equipment are provided.

Two participants kayak during a GO Outdoors program
Two participants canoe during a GO Outdoors program
Jesse Stratowski

“There are so many different ways to engage in the outdoors,” said Jesse Stratowski, the outdoor recreation coordinator for Adventure Recreation (which runs GO Outdoors). “We try to make sure that we have big enough buckets to catch as many people as we can who want to try that stuff out. 

“So, if it’s something like canoeing that interests you, or rock climbing, or hiking, or skiing and snowboarding, our goal is to offer something intriguing enough for you to step out and get into the deeper aspects of outdoor recreation.” 

While the physical benefits of the program are obvious, program leaders also highlighted the mental benefits of disconnecting through engagement with the outdoors. 

“In a sense, both social work and GO Outdoors work in the same way,” said Emma Vitureria, a social worker who also works as a part-time specialist for Adventure Recreation. “In a lot of cases, you need to change people’s environment to deal with their personal issues. By taking students out of their daily environment and into the mountains, lakes, or rivers, we provide them with the opportunity to forget about their stressors for a little while and experience new things.”

A participants climbs a cliff during a GO Outdoors trip
A participants climbs a cliff during a GO Outdoors trip
Jackie Veatch

Stratowski echoed Vitureria’s thoughts about the psychological value of the GO Outdoors program.  

“Many of our trips remove a lot of the day-to-day world and take place in a space where you can really reflect on your life,” he said. “We do a lot of things that are flashy, but the most powerful experiences involve quiet, thoughtful conversations that participants have after working together for a day or weekend or week.” 

The trips also represent opportunities for growth for the trip leaders, who are usually undergraduate or graduate students at Rutgers, and for the participants themselves. 

“I’ve seen GO Outdoors mold so many facilitators into amazing outdoors leaders,” said Jackie Veatch, a graduate student in the department of Marine & Coastal Sciences who has been working with GO Outdoors for four years. “They leave the program much better equipped to lead, with a renewed love for the outdoors, and with experiences of sharing the outdoors with many students who wouldn’t have been able to participate otherwise.” 

Quintin Diou-Cassis, a fellow trip leader and graduate student in the department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, echoed Veatch’s thoughts when talking about potential participants.  

“I would tell anyone who is thinking about coming on a trip that you don’t have anything to fear, because that’s what we’re there for,” he said. “Whether you’re a domestic or international student, whether you’ve done this stuff or not before, we are here to guide you, to make sure that you have the best experience possible, and teach you how to have your own experiences in the future.” 

Go Outdoors is running a multitude of trips in the spring semester, including snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, rock climbing, sunset kayaking, and a capstone multi-day canoe trip following the end of the semester. Click here to learn more. If you would like to become a trip leader, you can contact Jesse Stratowski at