Benefits of Campus Outdoor Recreation Programs: A Review of the Literature


  • Elizabeth K. Andre Northland College
  • Nathan Williams North Carolina State University
  • Forrest Schwartz Pennsylvania State University
  • Chris Bullard Portland State University



campus outdoor recreation, campus recreation, outdoor recreation, outdoor education, higher education, adventure education


Campus outdoor recreation programs and facilities have faced a number of public attacks questioning their value for students. Climbing walls in particular have become, to some, emblematic of waste and financial excess in higher education. Despite these claims, this literature review uncovers numerous benefits for participants and schools provided by campus outdoor recreation specifically and campus recreation more generally. For colleges and universities, these benefits include positive effects on student recruitment, retention, and satisfaction and the opportunity for recreation programs to support academic programs directly. For students, benefits include increased academic success, smoother transitions to college, better mental and physical health, lower levels of stress and anxiety, better and more numerous social connections, better intra- and interpersonal skills, increased environmental sensitivity, and better connectedness to nature and to place. 

Subscribe to JOREL.






Special Issue: Campus Outdoor Recreation Programs