While other students may be left wondering what to do on the weekends, Dixie Outdoors students are probably cliff jumping at Sand Hollow or hiking Kanarraville Falls.
Dixie Outdoors is a group of Dixie State University students who get together and take advantage of the outdoor locations in St. George and its surrounding areas. The unofficial club is operated through a Facebook group and is not affiliated with the university. Two DSU peer mentors organized the group to bring together students who enjoy outdoor activities.
Rahim Andersen, a senior business administration major from Las Vegas, and Joseph Mitchell, a senior communication major from St. George, came up with the idea for the group over a game of pool one night. Between Andersen, Mitchell and two other peer mentors, they guide freshmen with categorized interests in athletics, entertainment, creativity and the outdoors. They wanted to be able to bring people of differing interests together and take advantage of the scenic surroundings St. George offers.
Taya Tobler, a freshman general education major from West Point, just moved to St. George and was excited to go cliff jumping with the Dixie Outdoors group before school began. Tobler is an avid outdoors person, but the landscape of St. George is widly different from what she’s used to. She said she enjoys being part of the group because they plan activities she normally wouldn’t do on her own.
Andersen and Mitchell created the Facebook group the week before classes began at DSU. Now the club has over 225 members, and it has been adding new people every day, Mitchell said. No one advertised the group, yet it grew enormously just by word of mouth.
Andersen said they decided to keep the group separate from DSU because of liability. Activities they do, such as cliff jumping, can pose a risk to individuals if students aren’t cautious. If Dixie Outdoors became an official club of DSU, each student who attended their activities would be required to fill out release forms, Mitchell said. So instead of involving the university, Andersen and Mitchell elected not to apply for a club charter.
“With this, we’re not limited,” Mitchell said. “There are no caps on how many people can come.”
Each individual is held responsible for their own safety when they’re on an adventure with the Dixie Outdoors group.
Andersen and Mitchell try to plan activities at least every other weekend, if not every weekend. They organize hiking trips, swimming, camping trips and other outings. Students will usually meet outside of the Student Activities Center, where they can arrange carpooling and get directions. Since many of the members are freshmen and don’t have transportation, they’re encouraged to carpool.
“St. George has such an active lifestyle environment,” Andersen said. “There’s always something to do outdoors, and there are so many places to go that not a lot of people know about.”
He emphasized the opportunity to make friends at Dixie Outdoors events. At their first event, over 80 strangers attended to cliff jump at Sand Hollow. By the end of the day, each person came away with at least 10 or 20 new friends, Andersen said.
“The biggest thing is meeting new people and being able to have that common ground,” Andersen said. “You and the person you meet both have a love for the outdoors and going out and being active.”
Tobler attested to Andersen’s statement. By the end of the day, she said she made 15 new friends with similar interests, and she still sees them on a regular basis.
Mitchell said people should join Dixie Outdoors because it gives them the chance to make new friends, go on adventures regularly, and discover what St. George has to offer.