sea kayaking

For Lauren Petersen, leaving a legacy at her school meant establishing a new spring break trip through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Outdoor Adventures Center to kayak in the Gulf of California.

The political science major will lead five students with minimal sea kayaking experience for six days to explore nature.

This is the first time the Outdoor Adventures Center has traveled needing passports in over 10 years.

There is typically a trip to the Rio Grande which Jordan Messerer, assistant director for Outdoor Adventures, said allows students to paddle the border between Texas and Mexico without a passport.

The sea kayaking trip, however, is brand new.

The trip will start with students in San Diego on March 15, which Petersen said is different than most of the Outdoor Adventures trips, which start on campus.

The next day, the students will drive down to the Sea of Cortez off the Gulf of California and spend the next six days island-hopping and exploring what Mexico has to offer.

“This is an adventure,” Messerer said. “This is about taking risks.”

Petersen said she knew she wanted to create an experience where students could paddle and stay warm for spring break, which prompted the invention of this trip.

She said she’s not nervous about the trip because she will be partnering with Outdoor Adventures at the University of California, San Diego.

Messerer said the Californians do the trip as a weekend getaway throughout the year, but for Nebraskans, it’s just not that easy.

For Petersen to get her plan approved, she planned each step of the process and then submitted her proposal to UNL’s risk management team.

While she said she was nervous about this, Messerer said he was the opposite.

He said university policies and procedures are pretty clear, and he knew Baja California would be approved.

When the risk management team approved the request, Petersen said it still didn’t feel like it was actually happening.

“It didn’t feel real until last week,” she said. “When I bought my plane ticket to San Diego I cried a little.”

Until then, she said the whole idea felt more like a thought than a plan. Now that everything is in action and the trip is soon, she’s even more excited.

Her work is only half done, though. Petersen still needs to lead the trip and teach students how to live off the islands the students will camp out on.

The islands have plants and animals many students have never seen before that Petersen said she’s excited to explore.

What won’t it have? Cell phone reception.

Petersen said she is excited to get away from the electronic world and just enjoy the peaceful and calm atmosphere.

“When I return to civilization I don’t want to turn my phone back on,” she said. “It’s the best feeling.”

For Messerer, he’s excited for the students to experience something brand new.

“The reason we travel is to explore and take risks,” he said. “It makes us healthy individuals.”