Enjoy the Outdoors With Free Classes and Gear This Summer

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From pickleball to paddleboarding, students are encouraged to try new activities.

Aerial of paddle boards and swimmers in Lake Morey
Student paddleboarders enjoy a dip in Lake Morey in Fairlee, Vt., last summer. Dartmouth is offering free equipment to students and classes to undergraduates this summer to encourage them to enjoy the outdoors and foster well-being. (Photo by Chris Johnson)

Dartmouth, long famous for its beautiful natural setting, is offering free gear and classes this summer to make it even easier for students to access outdoor fun—and maybe pick up a new lifelong sport in the process.

Dartmouth’s Ledyard Canoe Club on the Connecticut River will offer free daily boat rentals for students, including graduate and professional students, for the remainder of the season, and 2024 summer term undergraduates can enroll at no charge in outdoor physical education classes such as fly fishing, golf, pickleball, and tennis, thanks to funding from the Office of the President

The “super fun, impactful, and Big Green initiative,” says economics professor Bruce Sacerdote ’90, the chair of the recently formed Outdoor Engagement Committee, represents a collaboration with President Sian Leah Beilock; Chief Health and Wellness Officer Estevan Garcia; Vice President for Alumni Relations Cheryl Bascomb ’82; and Jamie Coughlin, founding executive director of the Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship.

“As President Beilock has said, student wellness and well-being comes first and is a foundation to learning, growth, and success,” Sacerdote says. “The committee, which includes students, faculty, staff, and alumni, hopes to broaden student and alumni engagement with the outdoors and with the many facilities and natural spaces that Dartmouth maintains.” 

Garcia says he’s excited to support increased access to outdoor activities and programming this summer by partnering with the Outdoor Programs Office and Dartmouth Athletics

“My office has been working with Professor Sacerdote and his committee on plans and programming to reduce barriers to outdoor experiences and activities,” Garcia says. “We are grateful to President Beilock’s office for underwriting these outdoor programs for students across campus.”

Paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks are available at Ledyard, 9 Boathouse Road in Hanover. The club is open seven days a week. 

“We often overlook the wealth of resources available to us, and it’s incredibly important to take advantage of them, especially during the summer,” says committee member Abida Ahmadi ’26. “This season offers the perfect opportunity for students to engage in outdoor activities with friends, fostering a sense of community and well-being.”

Students can register on DartHub for any Introduction to Lifelong Sport course; the classes count toward completion of the undergraduate wellness education requirement. 

“This is a ‘One Dartmouth’ story of colleagues across campus coming together who have identified an opportunity around outdoor engagement and are eager to bring programming together to activate,” says Coughlin, a member of the Outdoor Engagement Committee.

The committee receives support from the Magnuson Center and includes Joe Gerakos ’90, senior associate dean for innovation and growth at Tuck School of Business. Among their future plans are inclusive student-led activities for every season and an app that aggregates local outdoor recreation resources.

“We aim to expand outdoor use among all Dartmouth students,” Sacerdote says. “You never know what your outdoor passion will become until you try.”

The initiative this summer follows a similar effort this past winter to get more people involved in outdoor recreation on campus. The president’s office worked with the Hanover Improvement Society and the town of Hanover in January to re-open the skating rink on the Green for students and community members, and made skates available to borrow for free.

Aimee Minbiole