Joliet, Ill. – Hiking. Kayaking. Backpacking. Bicycling. Even bird-watching. These are just a few of the activities that the students and employees at the University of St. Francis (USF) have been participating in since September 16 as they compete to win the 5th annual AORE Campus Challenge.

Hosted by the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE), a nonprofit committed to reconnecting individuals with the outdoors, the annual AORE Campus Challenge aims to get students from more than 90 universities off the couch and into the outdoors. To participate, students simply download the Campus Challenge app, join their university’s team, and then log their outdoor activities during the Challenge to score points. Prizes for winners include national titles, free outdoor gear, and most importantly, bragging rights.

With a team led by USF Assistant Professor in the Department of Recreation and Sport Management, Jerome Gabriel, Ed.D., students have their eyes on the top prize: the title of National Outdoor Champion. In 2017 USF finished the competition as the #1 school in the Midwest and #2 in the Nation. This year’s AORE Campus Challenge, which is sponsored by nationally by Osprey, and locally by DNA Active Lifestyle Outfitters, Paint Pursuit Games, Expedition USA Outfitters, and IPRA, concludes on October 13.

“This challenge gives USF an opportunity to engage with the outdoors across the spectrum.  Students, faculty, staff, and administrators are all involved in the success that we are seeing.  It is not a coincidence that we are currently ranked first nationally.  We have an amazing campus that in excited about seeing how we can compete against the bigger school,” said Gabriel.

In addition to the National Outdoor Champion award, there are more than 30 other individual and regional awards up for grabs. The top winners will receive outdoor gear compliments of AORE and Osprey. Each sponsor will also host a weekly challenge, giving students even more opportunities to score free outdoor gear.

“I love the challenge because it encourages myself and others to become more active in the outdoors.  The challenge enriches life here at USF because it allows students to meet and interact with people they might have never met before,” said USF senior Caeley Grady.

About AORE

The Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE) is the premier organization dedicated to serving the needs of recreation and education professionals in non-profit settings. Through AORE, members have a mechanism to interact with and affect decisions made by public land managers and the human powered outdoor recreation industry. AORE is committed to promoting ecologically sound stewardship of the natural environment and serves as a collective voice for its members regarding topics of regional and national concern.

To learn more about the AORE Campus Challenge, visit and

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves over 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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