At first glance, little has changed with the large plot of land located a short distance from Clemson’s main campus across the Highway 93 bridge toward Seneca.

Enter the property and you’ll notice the old YMCA “barn” is equipment storage space for the Clemson Outdoor Recreation and Education program, better known as CORE. You may also notice it’s in dire need of a makeover.

That’s all about to change.

The Snow Family Outdoor Fitness and Wellness Center will be adding to its outdoor recreation inventory, starting in 2018. In December, the state of South Carolina offered final approval for a second turf field and an Outdoor Education Center covering approximately 16,500 square feet. When completed, CORE’s new home will include academic classrooms for experiential learning, group fitness and wellness space, and of course, a shiny space for the storage of equipment.

Clemson students at a bonfire on Campus Beach

Sydnee Abel (second from right) is a CORE trip leader.
Image Credit: Student Affairs Publications

“We have the people and equipment to have great experiences, but the next step is to bring it to another level,” said Sydnee Abel, a senior double majoring in political science and French.

In her time away from the classroom, Abel serves as a CORE trip leader. One of her favorite memories was a ski trip to Steamboat Springs in Colorado.

“CORE has impacted me and provided a great break from classes,” she admitted. “I love leading these trips for students … you can see growth in them with each trip, and that’s rewarding.”

Seeing how influential the trip leaders are really made an impression early on with Ryan Phillips, now a senior majoring in mechanical engineering. Within a year of his first CORE trip, he was sending Campus Recreation employee Robert Taylor a flood of emails trying to find a way to get involved.

“I got my lucky break and since then I’ve enjoyed working with CORE,” he said. “I’ve found it to be one of the best parts of my Clemson Experience.”

Clay Dotson’s favorite aspect of CORE are the multitude of activities available. He doesn’t shy away from participating in any of them — hiking, camping, mountain biking, rock climbing, whitewater paddling.

Clemson students take part in a hiking trip

Clemson students take part in a hiking trip with CORE.
Image Credit: Student Affairs Publications

Dotson believes CORE is instrumental in exposing students to another side of recreation.

“Being outside and exercising is a great way to experience new things,” he said. “I’m excited for the students who will get to experience the new facilities, because it will add even more value to their experiences at Clemson.”

Taking students out of their comfort zones is also a rewarding aspect, according to junior industrial engineering major John Swan. Like Dotson, he has participated in a wide range of CORE trips as a leader. And like all of his colleagues, he expects the impact of a new facility supporting the CORE program to be a game-changer.

“Getting this facility will allow us to improve our program and to better serve the students here at Clemson,” he said, “because ultimately that’s who we’re really here for.”

Note: For information on participating in the Snow Challenge, visit Clemson’s giving page.