There are great opportunities to explore the outdoors in and around Walla Walla. If you’re wondering what outdoor opportunities Walla Walla University provides to students, River Neil can help! He is this year’s ASWWU Outdoors Head and is excited for students to join in on the fun. Neil is a senior history major from Bend, OR and has a lot of outdoor experience. He regularly snow skis both downhill and backcountry, as well as goes whitewater kayaking, biking, and climbing. When asked, “What is ASWWU Outdoors?,” Neil said that “the role of ASWWU Outdoors is to serve the student body in the individual pursuits in the natural world in a variety of sports and activities.”  Neil went on to mention that ASWWU Outdoors includes two departments: The Tread Shed and ASWWU Expeditions.
Neil said that The Tread Shed offers rentals and bike servicing to students so they can do outdoor activities safely. It is also a physical place to learn about the outdoors. Workers at The Tread Shed are happy to share their knowledge with students, such as new places to explore and tips on how to care for their equipment. “There are frequent conversations going on with Tread Shed technicians because they’re outdoorsy people. People are learning how to work on their bikes, how to do various activities safely, how to use equipment, and what types of things there are to do around here.” 
Neil also spoke about ASWWU Expeditions: “The goal is to facilitate outdoor activities.”  He spoke about the popular trips in the past and how he is planning those trips again, such as
whitewater rafting in the Salmon River, the surf trip on the Oregon Coast, and the annual trip to Rosario. Neil said, “These trips are good and they’re a positive influence on campus because they allow those who don’t normally spend a lot of time outside to do so in a safe way.” 
When asked why ASWWU Outdoors changed their guiding arm’s name from “ASWWU Outdoors Trips” to “ASWWU Expeditions,” he said this: “The reason for our shift in branding is to raise the professionalism of ASWWU Outdoors. We want our staff to be held to a high standard. Shifting that name helps it roll off the tongue better; it helps it stick in people’s minds and gives us something to strive for.” 
When asked what will be different this year as compared to previous years, Neil said, “We’re trying to focus on the social aspect, we want to connect people to others who want to go outside.”  Neil sees ASWWU Outdoors as a way to create a social network for outdoor-oriented students because it enables them to meet similar students. In the future, these students can create their own outdoor trips. ASWWU Outdoors exists to enable these students to meet each other, plan their own trips, and execute them safely.
Neil is proud to have ASWWU Spiritual on trips: “We’ve had ASWWU Spiritual staff on all of our trips so far and are planning on having spiritual staff on all of our trips, if possible.”  Neil wants to facilitate the growth between students and God through nature.
Neil was asked what trips he’s looking forward to and he said he said the Christmas Cabining trip: “We have the ASWWU Spiritual team coming with us, a great location with room for lots of people, and I’m really excited to see it.”  He also said that winter quarter will include the annual trip to Bluewood and cross-country skiing at Andes Prairie.
Neil is excited to see what this year brings and has exciting trips planned for all students. Give ASWWU Outdoors a visit by attending an ASWWU Expedition or by visiting The Tread Shed.