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“Exploration Film Tour” challenges stereotypical norms on the outdoors

The Ohio State Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC) is home to a 35-foot rock climbing wall, bouldering routes and a slackline and also offers outdoor adventure trips for OSU students. Credit: Ris Twigg | Assistant Photo Editor

Ohio State’s Outdoor Adventure Center will challenge stereotypes and promote engagement with outdoors when the “Exploration Film Tour” makes a stop on campus.

The National Outdoor Leadership School will bring a series of eight independent films to the big screen at 7 p.m. Thursday at the OAC.

Instead of focusing on professional athletes, the films feature everyday people exploring the outdoors — from kayaking in the ocean or climbing a mountain.

Not only do the films center around amateurs, they also address a key topic that Matt Hartman, assistant director of the OAC, said is often overlooked in outdoor recreation: minority involvement.

“I didn’t even realize how segmented the outdoor adventure community is,” Hartman said. “It’s something we strive for, but the more we can talk about it and get people involved, the better.”

Hartman said he hopes the films inspire people to take their outdoor experiences to the next level, and added that the themes challenge people to ask themselves how their daily outdoor actions might be excluding people.

Roland Bennett, safety coordinator for the Mountaineers at Ohio State and a fourth-year in Arabic and physics, said he’s interested in seeing the films because they demonstrate that anyone can participate, regardless of skill level or skin color.

He said he’s noticed that the outdoor recreation community is sometimes “dominated by white people,” explaining that access to recreational areas plays an important role in someone’s ability to participate.

“Outdoor adventure is something that is really worthwhile and should be accessible to anyone,” Bennett said. “I like that [the films] focus on ordinary people rather than professional athletes because it shows how anyone can do this.”

The films aim to confront the “stereotypical cultural norms” about who participates in outdoor recreation, according to the National Outdoor Leadership School’s blog, by spotlighting women and a group of African-American men training to summit Denali, the highest peak in North America, in south-central Alaska.

When it comes to teaching, the OAC has three learning outcomes for students who engage in its programs: gaining technical outdoor skills, building community and transference, which is about relating outdoor experiences into everyday life.

“I hope this atmosphere that is created from the films sparks people to ask questions,” Hartman said. “Not that we’re gonna solve them at this event, but creating some awareness [will help].”

The two-hour film event will take place in the OAC equipment room. Admission is free and open to the public.


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