Spring Break 2021 took on a different look for Clemson students. One year after the onset of a global pandemic — with many states still under travel advisories and social gathering restrictions — some students made alternative arrangements while still aiming to enjoy a week away from the stress of the classroom, COVID-19 and all that’s come with it.
Count senior food science and human nutrition major Sam Maurer among those making the most of it.
Maurer led the planning for and coordination of daily trips through Clemson Outdoor Recreation and Education (CORE), all within a manageable distance of the University.
“We did a day trip every day during Spring Break,” said Maurer, a native of York, South Carolina. “We chose a different location and activity each day.”
On Monday, the group of students went backpacking at Rainbow Falls and Whitewater Falls just across the border in North Carolina. The next day, they took paddleboards out to Lake Keowee. Wednesday proved to be the longest of the day trips, as the group traveled about three hours to just outside of Bristol, Tennessee to explore Worley’s Cave — an area featuring over 4,000 feet of caverns and tunnels.
Late in the week, they did a seven-mile whitewater paddle adventure in Dillsboro, North Carolina on the Tuckasegee River. They took mountain bikes up to DuPont State Recreational Forest.
Maurer said his favorite memory from the trips was simply the camaraderie built by the group throughout the course of the week.
“It’s always fun at the end of the week when you see that shared experience of exhaustion,” he said. “It’s because we did group activities all week together and really bonded over the week.”
Maurer became an outdoor recreation enthusiast as a junior and senior in high school and carried the passion over to Clemson. After discovering the CORE program, he began working with then professional staffer Austin Souto in Fall 2019.
Shortly after he joined CORE as a trip leader, the University welcomed its newest recreational facility addition with the Andy Quattlebaum Outdoor Education Center. Maurer described it as a “spectacle” and said it has enhanced the CORE program, despite the interruption of the pandemic.
“It’s certainly state-of-the-art and everything you could want for recreating in the outdoors,” he said. “It’s definitely a landmark for outdoor recreation at Clemson.”
Maurer will ease up on his CORE responsibilities as he transitions to graduate school and prepares to focus on his career at Clemson. But he will look back at Spring Break 2021 with great fondness.
“CORE has historically gone on Spring Break trips to as far as California, Colorado and Texas,” he said. “But it was fun seeing how the break culminated with everyone being more open and comfortable with each other.”