Unique courses offered on campus


English composition, intermediate algebra, and chemistry courses will appear on student schedules at one point or another during most educational careers. But what about archery, canoeing, or rock climbing?

Unique courses that are available to students are not always well-known to students and are often left over from previous general education requirements.

A History of Activities

The General Education program has not always been structured the way it is today. It used to entail a physical education requirement that included sports teams as well as certain sports-minded classes, such as golf.

To accommodate the interests of all types of students, new classes were introduced to give a wider variety. These included golf, bowling (which is still an option), biking, snow sports, and even pocket billiards.

The General Education program eventually changed again, requiring one of four health-centered class requirements.

Courses such as archery, backpacking, and rock climbing have been left over from the previous changes, allowing students to choose activities that are relevant to their interests and fulfill elective credits.

Ready, Aim, Fire!

Students ready their bows and take fire in this unique class. This archery class focuses on the basics and target shooting. (Photo by Kaitie Fox)

The archery course is one of several interesting options available to students. Taught by Kathy Haas, the course explores basic shooting skills. It is offered every semester and held in the gymnasium.

“We start out with the basics, just learning all the components,” said Haas.

Students taking the class focus on target shooting. Basic recurve bows are used instead of the more advanced compound bows. Proper technique is taught with simpler bows to ensure safety.

Haas said there are many benefits to enrolling in the class, noting stress relief as one.

Current students seem to agree.

“It’s really good stress relief,” said senior exercise science major Michelle Wagner. “You just come in and shoot.”

Because the class size is approximately ten students, they get to know each other more closely than in a larger class.

“The social component is huge,” Haas said.

The class has a fun time interacting with one another, often singing and playing games.

“We compete against each other a lot,” said sophomore math major David Kahoun. “It’s good, clean fun.”

Haas recommends archery for anyone who is interested in the  sport. Whether a student is inspired by Robin Hood or Katniss Everdeen, each is welcome to take the course.

The Great Outdoors

For those interested in a more outdoorsy option, classes in backpacking, canoeing, and rock climbing are available.

Jack Harris, professor of business administration, currently teaches technical rock climbing, canoeing, caving, and backpacking. He shares the instructive duties of these classes with Tanya Hershberger.

In the backpacking class, the studies culminate in a weekend trip through the woods. (Photo by Kaitie Fox)

The technical rock climbing course is currently taught by Harris. It teaches the fundamentals of climbing as well as safety precautions. Most of the curriculum takes place inside the classroom but culminates in a field trip to let students practice what they’ve learned.

“Safety is a big emphasis,” Harris said. The climbing taught is a style called top roping, which is the safest. The students’ well-being is always a top priority.

The backpacking and canoeing classes are currently taught by Hershberger. The backpacking course focuses on what food and provisions to bring, how to find a clean water supply, and how to be safe on trips.

“It’s pretty hands-on,” Hershberger said. “Students really appreciate that.”

Senior exercise science major Julie Edwards underscored this appreciation.

“You get a lot of reward for a little effort,” she said.

The canoeing course covers types of canoes, what clothing to wear, types of paddles, proper technique, and certified flotation devices.

Both the backpacking and canoeing classes end with a class trip to a nearby location to practice the skill. The social aspect in these classes is also large.

Senior community health education and communication arts double major Kellie Adams, who took the backpacking course, emphasized the bond between classmates.

“We were all in it together,” she said. “If one person gets sick [on a backpacking trip], we all wait for them.”

“We’ll be truly depending on each other,” Hershberger said. “It brings a good amount of community.”

An Unexpected Class

Those of a more literary inclination might be interested in knowing that an Author Studies class on J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis is also offered this spring.

Professor of English Steven Jensen said the class will be “reading lots of pages, having lots of conversation.”

The course will cover Tolkien’s famous The Lord of the Rings trilogy along with related materials. Novels by Lewis that will be read include Till We Have Faces, The Magician’s Nephew, and The Great Divorce. In addition, other works by Tolkien, Lewis, and other authors will be read to supplement the curriculum.

The class will examine the novels with a theological perspective, analyzing the symbolism and discussing concepts.

Jensen noted the importance of both writers in Christian literature.

“They’re both great theological thinkers,” Jensen said. “They’re doing theology through narrative, through fiction. They have an imaginative foot planted firmly in a lot of ancient texts.”

The three credit hour class is offered every two years, but there has been some fluctuating in this schedule.

Covering a slew of subjects ranging from bowling to Tolkien, there is a variety of classes offered to cater to students’ interests. The next time scheduling season rolls around, a closer look at the catalog may reveal some unique options.

Ian Chandler is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.

Categories: Features

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