Hit the Road, Jack: Delta State University’s Recreational Program


Dr. Todd Davis

Nothing is better than marshmallows and adventures!

Have you spent the last few years indoors? Are you getting tired of endless schoolwork and weekend parties? With the weather getting warmer, Delta State’s Outdoor Recreation Education Program is just for you!

Walking into Dr. Todd Davis’s office was like stepping into a summer camp. Pictures all over the wall of past students, eagerly excited about the journey they were on. Some in the fair, white snow. Others in the scenic forests with only the sound of rocks, crunching underneath their bicycle tires and birds carrying their songs through the trees. It felt peaceful, as if I were there in the flesh.

Pack Your Bags

Dr. Todd Davis is an assistant professor at Delta State Univ. and runs the Dave Helflin Outdoor Professorship. He strives to provide engaging activities for all students who want more than just studies and parties, along with outdoor experiences.

“We do different activities and events on campus throughout the semester,” Dr. Davis says. “We have a lab, recreational space where students can come rock-climbing, bouldering, and also be a part of the community.”

Even if you’re not physically athletic, you can still partake in the activities the program has to offer.

“There are limits to physical abilities, but we still work with those limits and disabilities students may have,” Dr. Davis says. “We work pretty hard with enabling students who want to go and participate.”

Get Your Hiking Boots On

The program offers much more than just a recreational lab. Students can enroll in classes that allow them to get college credits and go on exciting journeys.

“These are skill courses and we meet throughout the semester at various times to do skill based learning,” Dr. Davis says. “We also go on expeditions, leaving on a Friday and come back on Sundays. A majority of the work is on the expeditions.”

Not only does the program provide weekend trips, but they host the Rio Grande expedition in Big Bend, Texas. The expedition is a 12 day journey, where students venture through Mexico and Texas. On the expedition students have the experience to canoe on the Rio Grande, hike through a section of the Boquillas Canyon and experience the glorious nature.

These trips go beyond the Spring Break, Rio Grande expedition. Dr. Davis said that they go on many, more local trips during the weekend.  

“We’ve gone to Dockery Swamp, which is about four miles outside of town. It’s an amazing place to canoe.” Dr. Davis says. “We call our smaller trips ‘MicroAdventures’, where we go to Grenada sometimes, go to Dockery Swamp and we’ve also mentioned going to Dahomey, a National wildlife refuge.”

Dr. Davis says that he wants to program to have “Hump Day expeditions”, where students can travel and adventure on smaller, more local expeditions that would be hosted on Wednesdays. His plan is to have students involved as much as they can, and to make up for the past years that Covid-19 has prevented.

It’s not about the Destination, It’s About the Journey

Along with students being able to adventure and sightsee, the trip aims to help students develop personable growth with each other. Students spend the two weeks building relationships with each other and learn new things about themselves while developing lifetime skills.

“It [the trips] cements our relationships and I still talk with them [students] to this day,” Dr. Davis states. “Over the past couple years we do Coffee Time Catch-up, where we Zoom-in students from past expeditions and it’s amazing to check-in and see what’s going on with everyone.” 

In a group setting, you build relationships with peers much easier on these expeditions than one can on a typical spring break trip. Whether it’s helping build a campfire, pitch a tent or examine unique flora, you are building solid bonds with your peers.

What are You Waiting For?

Delta State Univ. students have the opportunity for breath-taking expeditions. As society begins to enter a state of normalcy, why not take advantage of it?