UVU students retreat to the Capitol Reef Field Station

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The Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC), in conjunction with the Student Life and Wellness Center, spent Sept. 26 through Sept. 29 at the Capitol Reef Field Station (CRFS) in a four day mindfulness retreat. The two centers offered the retreat as a getaway for students who wanted to experience a formal mindfulness and meditation retreat, as well as the grandeur of the field station and the learning tools it offers.

The retreat offered yoga classes that were led by instructors Michal Tolk and Kimberly Reynolds, OAC. The retreat also included group meditations led by wellness instructor Dallin Bruun. Kerri Scott, the assistant wellness coordinator, offered an intuitive eating course and mentorship.

Students look on as Joe Ceradini teaches them about soil crust. Photo by Erik Hight

The idea for the retreat came from the Wellness Center last fall semester. Scott, Bruun and Tolk discussed the idea and collaborated with Reynolds to plan the trip. 

The 12 students and four faculty participants arrived at the field station on Thursday afternoon, where they were met by Joe Ceradini, who mans the station most of the year.

Ceradini welcomed the group of 16, gave them a tour of the site and introduced its unique off-grid design. Michael Stevens, a biology professor and the site director, worked closely with the national park to design the ten year old field station in a way that would reduce the impact on the land, while simultaneously offering it as a learning tool to students.

“We generate all of our own electricity using the sun. We treat our own water, and we encourage people to reduce waste and use less water,” said Stevens. “People across the campus have found ways to engage with the field station in meaningful ways.”

The station uses ion batteries and solar panels to source its own power, sustainable architectural design to conserve heating and cooling and a unique filtration system, which sources and filtrates its water from the land. 

The CRFS’s sustainable model fell in line with the group’s overall theme of mindfulness.

“Rather than just sitting and being silent, we can teach students how to live mindfully,” said Scott.

On Friday, the group hiked six miles through Sulfur Creek, while seeing historical artifacts, dinosaur tracks and petroglyphs along the way. The students also used the site’s kitchen to prepare meals that were vegetarian-friendly and reduced food and water waste by using organic compost.

Students stand on top of Cassidy Arch where Reynold led yoga on Saturday morning. Photo by Sheri Warnick

The stunning views from the field station and picturesque beauty of the land gave students a way to escape into the natural environment and learn how to adopt an attitude of awareness.

Natalie Melander, a student majoring in illustration, joined the retreat as an opportunity offered through the Honors Program.

“We were very present and awake to our senses the whole time. It was just bliss,” said Melander.