Fun in the sun: what to do

James Vaughn

Spring has arrived, and students are taking some time away from the books and heading outdoors. Whether it be playing or watching spring sports, taking advantage of all that USI’s Recreation, Fitness and Wellness Center has to offer, or just hanging out under the sun with some friends.

There is an array of options on or off campus. If students are looking for an escape, they might consider downtown. Whenever it’s nice out, junior English education major Kaitie Webster is outdoors.

“I love downtown,” Webster said. “There are plenty of areas to sit, walk, run or even ride bikes on the river.”

She said she loves taking pictures, and downtown is a great place to take them. 


“It’s safe and well lit at night,” Webster said. “There are a lot of food places and little shops on Main Street. It’s a nice change of scenery.”

Another outdoor resource that USI have is the Burdette Park Trail, Webster said.

“It’s a really nice trail that I don’t see a lot of students take advantage of,” Webster said. 

The trail connects USI to Burdette Park. There, students can race BMX, camp, go fishing, play miniature golf, have a picnic or even rent party houses.

For students taking summer classes, there is an Aquatic Center at the park. It offers a large Olympic-size pool with two diving boards, a family pool with a lazy river raft ride and an adventurous speed slide.

The Aquatic Center opens Memorial Day weekend. If students cannot make it off campus for some fun in the sun, there is plenty to do on campus. Some outdoor spring sports include volleyball, tennis, baseball, softball and rugby.

Freshman criminal justice major Caleb Slatter said he enjoys spending his time supporting the USI soccer team.

“I love getting out in the nice weather and getting some homework done while I watch the sport,” Slatter said.

He said he encouraged students to support their school.

“Attending athletic events gives students the opportunity to have some fun, interact with new people, hang out with their friends and just have a good time,” Slatter said.

Other than watching sports, Slatter also enjoys being active. He takes advantage of the two beach volleyball courts; one near the RFWC and the other near the Eagle Express Convenience Store.

That’s not all that the RFWC has to offer though. Any student, whether they live on or off campus, has access to a variety of options.

“The bikes you see people riding around on are free,” RFWC student manager Catlyn Walkup said. “All students need in order to rent a bike from us is their Eagle Access Card. We use that as collateral.”

The RFWC also provides students the opportunity to check out outdoor balls at the front desk or even get away from campus for a while.

“Something that students may not know is that we offer trips throughout the year,” Walkup said. “All but two of them are free and transportation is provided.”

The last opportunity for students to get away from campus for the spring is the “Garden of the Gods” trip coming up April 14. USI will transport students to southern Illinois where they will spend a day hiking at a natural reserve. The application deadline for the trip is March 30, and it is free for students. You can reserve your spot online at

“We want more students to take advantage of these trips,” Walkup said. “The same students go every time. We know them all by name.”