Explore the great outdoors with help from an expert adventurer

Explore the great outdoors with help from an expert adventurer

Trey Knight, assistant director of the new Outdoor Adventures program 

Photo: TJ Lievonen/University of Miami

By Brittney Bomnin

Trey Knight, assistant director of the new Outdoor Adventures program 

Photo: TJ Lievonen/University of Miami

Explore the great outdoors with help from an expert adventurer

By Brittney Bomnin
The new Outdoor Adventures program aims to get members of the University community outside and out of their comfort zones.

For almost two decades, Trey Knight, a professional stand-up paddleboarder who joined the University of Miami’s new Outdoor Adventures last year, has worked in outdoor recreation management. His passion for the outdoors and love of the water brought him to South Florida from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he served as the director of outdoor recreation. 

But it was how the college outdoor program at his alma mater, Georgia Tech, changed his life that set Knight on his mission to help students “become comfortable with discomfort.” With sports as a medium, he said, time spent in nature can benefit physical and mental health. He notes that a total of 120 minutes spent outdoors every week, particularly surrounded by water, can reduce stress.

Launched in 2020, Outdoor Adventures aims to enhance student engagement, success, and well-being by offering adventure-based programs, services, and facilities to students, as well as the broader University community. Located at Lakeside Village, the program currently includes an 840-square-foot climbing wall, two sand volleyball courts, and a rental center for outdoor gear. Knight and his team have a five-year plan to continue expanding the program. 

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, the climbing wall opened to students last fall and is now available to University faculty and staff members. The wall features routes and problems—or the sequence of moves that a climber performs to reach the top—that change regularly and are designed in part by the team’s student employees. 

Climbers can use the wall by purchasing a monthly or semester-long climbing wall membership and booking a reservation online. A faculty/staff Outdoor Adventures membership includes access to the wall along with discounted fees to rent camping and watersport gear and instructional clinics.

Watch a video about the equipment-rental program at Outdoor Adventures.

“The natural world has so much to teach us, but it can be scary,” said Knight. “This program helps make those experiences less scary and more accessible.” He urges participants to push themselves out of their comfort zone, learn activities, and find new ways to explore the great outdoors with ease.

Through the program, current University faculty and staff members can rent camping and watersport gear, such as sleeping bags, tents, stand-up paddleboards, and wetsuits. An Outdoor Adventures membership includes access to the climbing/bouldering wall, discounted fees on rental gear, and instructional clinic offerings, but membership is not required to rent gear. 

“People don't think about all the things that go into planning an outdoor adventure,” noted Knight. Whether it’s your first adventure or you’re looking for a new challenge, he and his team are available to help you design your next outing. As part of Wellness Wednesday, Knight hosted a student seminar to demonstrate how to use the rental gear from Outdoor Adventures, and he offered tips on organizing a campsite and maximizing the camping experience.

Peruse our list of parks and trails for biking, hiking, and much more.

“I’ve spent almost two full years in a tent and have made many mistakes and learned from other people who have spent an equal amount of time in tents,” said Knight, who is eager to prevent others from making the same mistakes. Down the line, he plans to develop an experiential education program and work with student organizations and other teams at the University to offer team-building workshops. “I enjoy working with the student teams at OA, watching them interact, grow, and become more aware of themselves, more confident,” he said, which was one of the reasons he decided to return to a role in higher education. 

To his work at the University, Knight brings his experience running similar projects at other colleges as well as on the commercial side of the industry, including work in Asheville and Charlotte, North Carolina, and his involvement in the American Canoe Association. Outside of work, he enjoys exploring Florida’s campsites, trails, and waterways with his wife and 2 ½-year-old daughter. He regularly starts his day on the water paddling a mile or two before getting ready to head into the office.

Learn more about Outdoor Adventures. Contact the team at 305-284-5116 or adventures@miami.edu.

Knight paddleboarding on the Chattooga River between Georgia and South Carolina.