Outdoor Adventure Class Assists in Moore, Okla., Recovery

by News Bureau on Friday, May. 31, 2013

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., May 31, 2013 — Students in Southeast Missouri State University’s RC812: Outdoor Adventure class took a detour from the course syllabus May 22 on an unexpected journey in Moore, Okla.

Seven students and Dr. Tom Holman, associate professor of health, human performance and recreation, rolled up their sleeves and assisted with recovery and cleanup efforts two days after a massive tornado devastated Moore.

The class was returning from an annual outdoor adventure course in Colorado the week earlier. Because of a late spring snowfall there, the group decided to take a southern route back to Cape Girardeau and spent the night in Oklahoma City, Okla. When news circulated of the events in Moore, the students decided to extend their trip an additional day and offer their assistance to the tornado victims.

“You couldn’t help but stop” and lend a hand, Holman said. “It was a pretty moving experience. There were tears, laughter and hugs.”

The group assisted a 70-year-old Vietnam War veteran and Purple Heart recipient pack belongings from his storm-damaged home and take them to a storage unit. The man, Jim Smith, rode out the tornado in a storm shelter. When the storm had passed, he emerged from the shelter to find his house heavily damaged but still standing while the homes across the street from his were leveled, Holman said.

The Southeast group offered their assistance while working with Operation Blessing through the Highland Baptist Church in Moore. Operation Blessing offers disaster relief around the world.

Holman said the Southeast group unloaded its outdoor gear from a van they traveled in to Colorado and packed it with water, food, snacks and supplies, delivering it to tornado victims.

“I am really proud of the students,” Holman said. “They put everything on hold. They were proud to be there and excited, and thought this was an awesome opportunity.”

The trip to Colorado exposed the students to white water rafting, rock climbing, mountaineering and show-shoeing. There they visited Buena Vista, Canyon City, Garden of the Gods, the incline at Colorado Springs and the Great Sand Dunes National Monument at Alamosa. Holman has been teaching and leading outdoor adventure for more than 20 years.

But the chance opportunity to volunteer in Moore offered an entirely different perspective, said Holman who teaches recreation courses at Southeast, including courses for the Outdoor Adventure Leadership Program.

“I think part of them (the students) was shaken to the core,” he said. “Some didn’t know how to react. But they were glad to put their agenda on hold and tend to this.

“I think this was a very epic kind of experiential teachable moment,” Holman said. “It was very profound.”

*Photo Captions:

Top Photo: Back row, from left: David Hurst and Brandon Tappmeyer; middle row, from left: Jason Daily, Brendon Smith and Evan Miller; front row, from left: Adam Metelski and Jessi Dickerson

Second Photo: Back row, from left: Brandon Tappmeyer; Middle row, from left: Brendon Smith, Jessi Dickerson, Jim Smith (home owner), Jason Daily, Evan Miller and Adam Metelski; Front row: Dr. Tom Holman