By Jordan Beach
Spots quickly sold out for the RU Outdoors Spring Break trip to Florida’s Gulf Coast as students were excited to spend time with their feet in the sand, swimming with manatees, snorkeling and hiking the local terrain.
“I enjoyed getting a chance to put aside worries and deadlines and enjoy quality time with sea cows,” said junior music education major Tyler Ballew.
The Sunshine State itinerary kept adventurers busy: day one, touring Homosassa Wildlife Park and hiking trails at Crystal River Preserve State Park; day two, snorkeling with manatees and kayaking at sunset; and day three, touring Crystal River Archeology and spending time on the beach.
Each night, the group returned to the Chassahowitzka campground to rest for the upcoming activities the next day.
Margaret Smith, a dual enrollment student from Waleska, felt she connected with new friends and those already in her life during their time around the fire.
“I loved sitting around the fire and hearing people talk about where they’ve traveled, what they’ve done and what they want to do,” said Smith. “The people I got the closest to were people I would never have met outside of the trip so I’m really glad I had the opportunity to meet them.”
Sophomore Slavatore Riggi, of Canton, also used this trip to form new friendships.
“With just about everyone on this trip, I encountered a common activity or conversational topic to share,” said Riggi. “This commonality created great memories throughout the trip, making downtime just as fun as the main events.”
The trip allowed students to disconnect from their hectic schedules as college students and engage with nature.
“It felt good to bundle up in my tent after a long day and fall asleep to the sound of the fire crackling and the light murmurs coming from the other tents,” Smith said. “I feel like I appreciate nature more when I’m surrounded by it, and this trip really showed me how beautiful it is.”