Students were greeted by blue skies and sunshine at Lake Whatcom on Saturday, May 21 as they flocked to Western’s boat house for an Outdoor Wellness Extravaganza.
“Besides the heat wave last summer, this is the most people we’ve seen since pre-COVID times,” Adam Rollins said, a recent Western graduate who teaches windsurfing at Lakewood, the university’s water sport facility.
Throughout the day, students could choose to attend a meditation session, yoga, craft making, sailing in an Alpha or J22 sailboat or rent out a variety of watercraft to take out on the lake. A free party bus shuttled students between Western’s campus and the Lakewood facility, along with the buses that regularly run each hour to Lakewood from the downtown station.
Employees of Lakewood spread awareness about the boathouse’s resources and shared their knowledge with students, while counseling center staff educated attendees on the importance of mindfulness and how outdoor recreation can help to improve both emotional and physical health.
“I’ve definitely learned a lot about myself and communication with others,” Rollins said. “It’s been cool to get people on the water and watch them have those ‘aha’ moments because it makes me feel good too.”
Second-year Gabby Laipenieks, a student employee, describes Lakewood as a “hidden gem of Western,” the same words used by Stephen Magnuson, manager of Viking Outdoor Recreation, in a recent article on ways students without cars can still get outdoors in Bellingham.
“It’s been controlled chaos for most of the day,” Laipenieks said. “Working at Lakewood is super chill, and it’s fun giving others access to water sports.”
Isabelle Parker and Evelyn Callahan, who are both first-years at Western, had never been to Lakewood before attending the Outdoor Extravaganza. They sat in the sun and read their books on the docks while enjoying burritos from the food truck stationed nearby.
“It’s so great seeing everyone out here taking advantage of the sun,” Callahan said. Both plan to return to the boathouse as soon as they can after learning about all the facility has to offer.
Many students who attended the celebration discovered new activities that they were not aware Western offered. Second-year Sam Zito plans to try learning to windsurf after watching others do so on Saturday.
The Counseling and Wellness Center is putting on a few more events as the school year draws to a close. In honor of this year’s World No Tobacco Day, students are encouraged to help clean up cigarette litter on campus and around Bellingham from May 24-31 for a chance to win prizes. The student who collects the most cigarette butts will win a gift certificate to the Western Associated Students Bookstore.
A Dorky Dance Fitness class will be held on the Communications Facility lawn on Tuesday, May 31 as well, with a full body and mental health experience, with dorky dancewear encouraged. More information on upcoming events can be found on the Western Involvement Network events page.
Lakewood will be open throughout the summer, and students are welcome to stop by to enjoy the lake and rent out equipment. The facility’s hours of operation can be found on its website.
Hanna Rhody (she/her) is a campus life reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a second year majoring in environmental journalism. In her free time Hanna enjoys all things music and all things cheese.
You can find her on Instagram at @hannatheginger.