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Whitewater rafting for college credit

We’ve heard of some funny and/or odd college classes including “Underwater Basket Weaving” at UC San Diego and a Carnegie Mellon course called “American Golf: Aristocratic Pastime or the People’s Game?” If you love the outdoors and active adventures and prefer experiential learning, then here’s a course that might be right up your alley.

For the seventh consecutive year, Adrift Adventures and Western State College are partnering to offer outdoor education students a Utah and Colorado whitewater rafting course on the Yampa River in Dinosaur National Monumen .

Dr. Mark Gibson, program coordinator for recreation and outdoor education at Western State and former river guide at Adrift Adventures, teaches the three-credit Utah and Colorado whitewater rafting course.

“It is designed to expose students to the rafting industry and to see how a trip is run commercially. This includes discussion about preservation, outdoor ethics, working with government agencies and protecting the Yampa River,” Gibson said. “All students in our program must complete this or another water-based course offered here in the (Gunnison) valley, but this seems to be the one that fills up the fastest. Snow-based and land-based courses are also required.”

In addition to the four-day Yampa River trip, Gibson said the class usually stays an extra day to run Split Mountain Gorge, a 9-mile stretch on the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument, and upon returning to the Western State campus students are assigned more course work and some outside projects.

“Ultimately, we want them to come away with an appreciation of rivers as a resource. Today, the Yampa is one of our last free-flowing rivers, but there is always a proposed water project on the table,” Gibson said. “We cannot rest on our laurels and hope that it will always be there. For me, the more people we take down the Yampa River, the more likely it will continue to flow.”

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