Staff Writer

The great outdoors came inside for the Outdoor Program's first annual UT Outdoor Festival on Saturday.
The Outdoor Program, along with UT Recreational Sports, the Canoe and Hiking Club, the Climbing Club and The Metro Pulse, sponsored the event.
The event included the "Vol Wall Crankin' for Access" climbing competition in the afternoon and the Telluride Mountain Film Festival in the University Center Auditorium that night.
"The Telluride Mountain Film Festival is America's premier film festival in terms of mountain, cultural and environmental film," said Brett Davis, director of the Outdoor Program and coordinator of the event.
The cost to climb the wall was a $10 donation which, along with the revenue from tickets to the film festival, benefited the Access Fund.
"The Access Fund ... is an organization that lobbies for climbers and recreational use of public and private land," Davis said.
More specifically, the Access Fund is a national non-profit group that lobbies in Congress and works with the United States Forest Service and The National Park Service to keep climbing areas open and conserve the environment.
The UT Outdoor Program is new on campus this year but is already making its mark.
Funded by the student activities fee, which is part of every student's tuition, the program is able to offer affordable equipment rental, organized outdoor excursions, clinics on any outdoor skill a person wants to learn and a resource center with guide books, maps and assistance in planning trips.
Trips can range from day hikes to weekend camping trips to even week-long Spring Break trips, including one this year to Florida for sea kayaking.
"If a student decides, 'Hey, I want to go kayaking,' they can come down there and we have all kinds of equipment," Davis said. "There's a minimal cost just to cover transportation."
John O'Neill, undecided freshman, said he thinks the program is a great idea.
"It seems like a pretty cool organization. I haven't been down there yet, but I enjoy climbing so I should definitely go check it out," he said.
Davis said spending time outdoors is a good way to get in touch with the natural world.
"I think that one is, people themselves learn a lot about who they are by participating in these activities. It's a great way to get out and relax and enjoy this great world of ours," Davis said. "Everything is so fast paced - it's important to get out there and live simply."