“Near the foothills of the Ozarks, Midst of the hill and plain; Stands our glorious Alma Mater; Harding is her name.”
From Searcy and beyond, Arkansas has a lot of outdoors to be explored. Living in the “Natural State” presents students with an array of outdoor activity options.
Greers Ferry Lake, a one-hour drive from campus, is a great place to get on the water. The Little Red River is the perfect spot to fish. Take a hike up on Pinnacle Mountain in Little Rock or Sugarloaf Mountain in Heber Springs to be refreshed and challenged.
Sometimes enjoying nature means simply looking up and appreciating the beauty around you. Junior Madeline Adkins makes spending time outside a priority in her schedule.
“Sometimes I just intentionally put my phone down and look around as I’m walking to class,” Adkins said. “Lately I’ve been going on walks with people; I like to do it around sunset, it’s so beautiful.”
Adkins has spent two summers working as a mountain guide in Colorado with Wilderness Expeditions. Through this experience she has learned valuable lessons about the basics of setting up camp in the wilderness.
“We were taught how to start a fire and how to treat our water,” Adkins said. “We strategically placed our camps next to water streams and filled up from there, but knew that we had to purify it because you can’t drink it straight from the stream.”
These basic survival skills are key when going on an extensive hike. For Adkins, spending time in nature is a survival skill in itself.
“I love being outside and the freedom that it offers from that suffocating feeling of so many things going on,” Adkins said. “Being outside clears my mind and reminds me that I’m small and there’s so much more to the world.”
Harding provides students with many opportunities to explore Arkansas while also working to ensure that they are safe.
For the students in the Honors College, outdoor gear is available for rent.
“The Honors College has a limited number of tents that may be checked out by honors students,” Honors College Administrator Debbie Baird said. “We also have kayaks that may be borrowed by those with prior kayak experience. Like the tents, the kayaks are available to our honors students,”
For overnight camping adventures students must make the school aware of their destination for safety purposes, according to the Harding Residence Life Handbook.
“Students must notify the Office of Student Life and receive approval by noon on Friday before leaving,” the handbook states. “Before the camping trip, students must provide their destination, approximate return date/time, and a list of all campers with residence hall information and a cell phone number for each student. The RLC must receive a phone call from the parent of each student. University policy regarding visitation between members of the opposite sex still applies.”
Beyond Boundaries Outfitters, an outdoors store in the heart of downtown Searcy, equips people with any gear they might need to adventure.
Owner Angela Sivia said that Beyond Boundaries carries camping and hiking gear from brands like Therm-a-Rest, SealLine, and Good To-Go Food. They can also order gear that they do not have in store.
“If someone wants to go on a camping trip and needs a certain tent or something come on by, and if we don’t have it in stock, we can order it for you,” Sivia said.
The mission of Beyond Boundaries encourages people to “go beyond” what seems possible in order to grow.
“I believe that in each of us, there is more than we think there is. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, male or female, we all can do more than what we think,” Sivia said.
Sivia enjoys running and hiking, and has explored a lot of the state. She said that one of her family’s favorite trails is Sylamore Creek, which connects to Blanchard Springs.
“It was about a four to five-mile hike. Before you start hiking, you swim across a creek and then begin,” Sivia said. “It was magical … I just didn’t realize Arkansas could be that beautiful.”
As the weather warms up, how will you challenge yourself and experience the beauty of Arkansas? “Near the foothills of the Ozarks, Midst of the hill and plain; Stands our glorious Alma Mater; Harding is her name.”