Despite the economic downturn, Poly Escapes presents multiple opportunities for students to enjoy the outdoors this winter at affordable prices.
There are over 20 trips planned for the quarter with usually two to three trips per weekend. Trips include surfing, mountaineering, backpacking, rafting, biking, climbing and other outings. The trips range in price from free, such as biking to Pismo, to around $130 for trips out of the area such as ice climbing.
All trips include free rentals for participants including gear, meals, and transportation in vans provided by Poly Escapes. Trips are held all over California and some even venture into Nevada.
Leah Parsons, student manager for Poly Escapes, said that trips have been incredibly good this year and people have been signing up early. She said that there have been no cancellations so far this year due to lack of interest, and that cancellations usually only occur due to weather concerns. Only one trip to San Gabriel has been canceled due to fires in the region.
Hayley Sexton, student marketing supervisor for Poly Escapes trips, said the whitewater rafting trips are typically one of the most popular trips offered. In fact, she said the whitewater rafting trip to the Klamath River in February was booked five minutes into the meeting. Other popular trips include surfing and cave exploration.
“People enjoy these trips because they don’t have to worry about anything since we take care of it all,” Sexton said. “They can just go have fun.”
Oftentimes, people are more willing to commit to the one-day trips rather than the weekend trips, but Parsons said that the weekend trips are well worth the commitment.
With each quarter, trip leaders and co-leaders come up with trip ideas that cater to student needs and are based on where they want to go. Trip leaders are hired by Poly Escapes to map out the trips as well as supervise the events while there. Parsons said that trip leaders hold pre-trip meetings to prepare participants for what their experience will entail so they are not completely lost when they arrive.
Co-leaders are volunteers in training who assist trip leaders and help formulate plans for these outings. Recently, co-leaders went mountaineering in Bishop on the east side of the Sierras where they were trained on the technical aspects of what their job will entail as trip leaders. Typically, there is room for up to 10 people on these trips along with one or two trip leaders and a co-leader, but it all depends on the excursion since each one is completely different.
Lizzie Trout, a co-leader at Poly Escapes, said the first ever Tahoe trip for snowshoeing came about because of students’ expressed interest.
One aspect that helps keep student interest high is that students have a voice in where they want to go. Sexton said she feels there are few cancellations because the trips are based off of where students want to go and what they have asked for. Also, she said that students like not having to worry about planning.
“As long as we have people interested and willing, we are ready to go as long as they are safe,” Parsons said.