September 11, 2019

Get outside to help SIU win the AORE Campus Challenge

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale has taken on a new challenge for 2019 and you’re invited to be part of this national “Mother Nature-meets March-Madness contest.”

SIU has been accepted as a participant in The Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE) Campus Challenge, competition during which the 98 participating schools earn points for getting participants outdoors and active.

Contest organizers note that one in three Americans is overweight and yet the average person spends 8-10 hours a day in front of a television or computer screen but only minutes outdoors and active. The goal of the AORE Campus Challenge is to get people up, out and moving to improve their health and well-being.

How does it work?

It’s actually pretty simple to join the SIU team. Anyone – faculty, staff, student or community member – can sign up as part of the SIU team at no cost.

Then, simply get involved in outdoor activities and log your activity to earn pounds. The contest runs from Sept. 16 to Oct. 13.

Participating individuals and universities can win prizes.

Download the app

Just download the app free at now. Create an account and register as an SIU participant.

Then, start logging your outdoor activities on Sept. 16.

Many activities score

To earn points, you must do an activity for a minimum of 30 minutes. But, it is easy to score.

Log 10 points for fishing, hunting, hiking, disc golf, running, caving, cycling, water activities, horseback riding, paddling and a wide variety of other actions, including outdoor service projects. Claim five points for outdoor yoga, walking, skateboarding, yardwork or outdoor training.

Gardening, stargazing, swinging in the hammock and other things are worth two points.

Qualify for bonus points for group, overnight or school-organized activities as well as for your first, tenth, 25th and 50th activity logged.

You’ll also nab “Greater Good” bonus points for activities that fall within special categories.

These categories, and a few examples of the applicable actions, include:

  • Positive environmental impacts – trail work, trash pick-up, tree-planting.
  • Health and wellness – gathering fruits and vegetables, cardio workout, forest bathing.
  • Personal growth and skill development – training for a competition, learning a new outdoor skill.
  • Explore outdoors anywhere – urban gardening, birdwatching.

Snap a picture of yourself taking a hike and share it on Facebook or Instagram. Participants are encouraged to share what they’re doing on social media in order to get more people involved.

Originated as student project

SIU’s participation in the challenge came about thanks to Danielle “Dani” Tanner, who is orchestrating it as her graduate project.

“I chose this as my graduate project because of the opportunity it gives students, departments across campus and the community to work together,” Tanner, a master’s student in the recreation professions program, said. “I believe this challenge can strengthen our campus community and promote a healthy culture.”

Assisting Tanner at SIU is Emily Tanner, public health and recreation professions instructor. She noted that research has “well documented that increased time in the outdoors has physical and mental health benefits.”

She added that SIU’s location makes it ideal for this type of challenge.

“SIU is located near many beautiful outdoor areas and I feel this challenge is a great opportunity to highlight what SIU and Southern Illinois has to offer those who value outdoor opportunities,” she said.

Many prizes available

The app features leader boards, where participants can compare the point totals compared to other participating schools and also check out the points totals for those participating on behalf of SIU. The school logging the most outdoor activities on the app wins the National Outdoor Champion title. But there are also prizes for regional winners, “Outsider of the Year,” recognition awards, free gear and more.

For more details

To learn more about the AORE Campus Challenge, visit, check out the campus challenge Facebook or Instagram pages or contact Emily Tanner at or 505/215-0391.