River semester: The Mississippi

100 days, 15 students, 4 canoes, and 1 river. As I stood on the bank of the Mississippi River in Dubuque, Iowa and looked across at the opposite side where the corners of Illinois and Wisconsin joined together along the flowing water, I contemplated the journey that lay ahead. Currently the spring was giving way to summer and soon I’d be paddling these waters as summer gave way to fall.

As part of an immersive study away experience, Augsburg University, in conjunction with Wilderness Inquiry, runs a program aptly called River Semester. Students spend an academic semester paddling the great Mississippi River while taking a full course load of credits. Academic staff and outdoor guides accompany the students along this journey as they spend 4 months engaging in immersive learning and experiential education. For 100 days the students live, study, and play alongside the river.

River Semester has its roots in blending academic learning with place-based learning. A combination designed to introduce students to subjects and topics while encouraging them to experience them first hand. For example, on this semester students took a biology course studying stream and river ecology while conducting stream samples along the river. They collected a set of data at each stream and then compared them to see how streams and environments differed at various places in the river system. Each student had an individualized course load and took a variety of courses related to their overall focus of study. All completed an independent study that combined their experience of the river and an academic topic such as history, political science, biology, communication, etc.

In addition to direct study, the students were also responsible for their everyday lives along the river. They set up camp every evening and broke it every morning, they cooked all their meals and did their grocery resupplies, they paddled every mile to their next campsite, they laughed and formed community, they endured near constant rain, severe storms, cold, snow and a river in continual flood. All of this while completing classes, writing papers, studying, and sitting for exams. The journey was not easy, it was a continual reminder of challenge and how to move within and beyond challenge.

Despite the hardships, one thing rose above all else and that was a sense of community – our own and that of communities around us. Often mired by bad weather, we found ourselves in a position of reaching out to local river communities to offer us assistance. The graciousness of these people was a constant light in even the stormiest of days. People fed us, sheltered us, took us into their homes, brought us games, built us fires, let us pet their dogs, and baked us dozens of cookies. They watched over us and followed our progress. They reached out when they saw a new storm or flooded portion near our location. They called their friends in towns we passed through to give them a heads up that we were coming. A ribbon of support and generosity tied us to the people along the river’s banks.

River Semester taught us much about our studies, ourselves, and our communities. Just as rivers shape the landscapes they weave through, so the Mississippi shaped our lives for those four months. It is hard to give written words to that time, but perhaps Kenneth Grahame sums it up best through his characters in The Wind in the Willows: “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

Picture of Canoes

Who are Intrepidus Outdoors?

We are an adventure tourism and outdoor purcuits provider based in Edinburgh, Scotland. We specialise in great outdoor activities including hill walking, canyoningcoasteering and canoeing. We deliver these adventures to different clients which include stag groups and hen parties and adults visiting Edinburgh. At Intrepidus we also like to provide interesting and informative blog posts about our experiences of Edinburgh! 

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Intrepidus Outdoors

Intrepidus Outdoors specialises in Outdoor Activites Edinburgh. We are a adventure tourism and outdoor education provider based in Edinburgh. We specialise in canyoning, coasteering, mountain biking and hill walking, and deliver these adventurous experiences across Scotland and the North of England. The experiences that we provide take clients into some of the most exquisite, incredible and extreme environments the UK has to offer.

Mission Statment :

To deliver the highest quality adventurous experiences to entertain, thrill and inspire.

Outdoor Activities Edinburgh & Scotland

Our values reflect those of a business started by a small group of rock climbers and mountain bikers. The experiences that we have had adventuring, and our passion for the outdoors, has led us to choose a lifestyle dedicated to sharing our love for the outdoors with others. The approach that we take to the experiences that we provide, and the business that we run, is that of sustainability, and an unapologetic quest for quality.

For us at Intrepidus Outdoors, we recognise that our experiences kayaking in clean rivers, surfing on unpolluted beaches and climbing frozen waterfalls have contributed to who we are as people. Therefore, protecting the planet so that the next generation of adventurers can have their own experiences, is hugely important for us. We believe that for people, communities and businesses to make the choice to minimise their impact on our planet, they must first value the planet that we have. We feel that the best way for people to value our blue planet, is to have first hand quality experiences in nature. They can then see the beauty of a forest, feel the power of an ocean and learn to love what is outside our towns and cities, so that they then fight to protect them. We strive to through the products that we deliver make a small difference to peoples understanding of the impact that they have on our world.

Our experiences adventuring have made us who we are and Intrepidus Outdoors is a reflection of us. We provide real adventurous experience that we hope you will cherish.

Adventure Activities Edinburgh & Scotland

There are cities where stuff is happening all year round and where you will never get bored. Edinburgh is undoubtedly one of these cities. It’s an extraordinary place, full of history, festivals, impressive architecture and plenty of attractions you won’t find anywhere else. Not to mention that we are located on the door step of so many amazing adventures and outdoor experiences.

We would like to introduce you to this extraordinary city, giving you a full range of possibilities that can be found north of the wall! Edinburgh has a huge dose of beautiful history, world-famous festivals, fantastic attractions, adrenaline fuled expereinces and great food. Edinburgh is calling you and you simply cannot refuse its invitation.

There are a many outdoor and adventurous experiences to be had in Edinburgh. If you are a thrill seeker visiting Edinburgh and interested in a canyoning, coasteering or mountain biking adventure in Scotland, Get In Touch!

Outdoor Adventures Scotland

It’s no secret that Scotland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. From the rural coastlines to vast mountain ranges, we have it all.

Whatever kind of experience you’re after you’re sure to find it here, so we’ve put together an adventurer’s guide to Scotland to help get you started. Our guide breaks down all the outdoor activities Edinburgh has to offer and many more adventures to keep you entertained on your holdiay.

To read more check out our adventures guide to Scotland [here]

Check out our Trip Advisor, Youtube channel, Visit Scotland page and blog to hear about how others found their outdoor adventure with Intrepidus outdoors and to see what we do!


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Email: info@intrepidusoutdoors.co.uk

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