Geoff Cantrell, Public Communications Specialist at Western Carolina University shared his thoughts on WCU’s victory. CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR THE 2020 WINNER Amidst this backdrop of Appalachian peaks, crystal clear trout streams and world class rivers, and seemingly endless singletrack, WCU has cultivated an outdoor culture that only gets richer with each passing school year. Cantrell:I would say three things: “Over a half-million votes poured into Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine’s Top Adventure Contest — the most ever in its seven-year history. Once again, Western Carolina rallied its students, faculty, staff, and alumni to a decisive victory. WCU boasts a premier location for outdoor adventure—with world-class whitewater, climbing crags, and hundreds of miles of trails in national parks and national forests surrounding the campus. It also offers outstanding outdoor education and adventure opportunities, such as Base Camp Cullowhee. Most importantly, perhaps, Western has a dedicated, outdoor-minded campus community that promotes and celebrates adventure. It’s not surprising that WCU has captured its fifth Top Adventure College title. They’ve definitely earned it. “–—Will Harlan, Editor in Chief BRO: Votes hit record numbers for our annual Top Adventure College Contest this year. Over half a million! How does it feel to be a part of the biggest voting year yet? Once again colleges and universities in the contest were selected for their outdoor clubs and curricula, their commitment to outdoor and environmental initiatives, the quality of their outdoor athletes and programs, and their opportunities for adventure, and once again WCU’s strengths shown through above the rest. BRO: What makes WCU stand out from the rest? What is its greatest and most unique quality? BRO: What percentage of the school’s population participates in taking advantage of WCU’s ideal outdoor surroundings? Second, opportunities. Base Camp Cullowhee, the university’s outdoor programming organization, offers equipment rentals, events and programs, recreational trips and experiential education services. Student clubs and organizations also provide outdoor excursions for members. Then there’s the topnotch curriculum available. Among the academic programs offered by WCU of interest to students pursuing careers in the outdoors are forest resource management, hospitality and tourism management, natural resources conservation and management, and parks and recreation management. Cantrell: Wow, that is a tremendous response, and good for Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine. Winning the online poll shows that Western Carolina University participates and is proud of our outdoor adventures, our campus, and the region. BRO: How has WCU grown since the first year they won? And third, involvement. WCU supports regional outdoors-based travel, tourism and industry, and the entities that are destinations for residents and visitors alike. For example, on Oct. 10, WCU will hold an Outdoor Economy Conference as the region’s premier outdoor industry and networking event to support businesses and entrepreneurs. Western Carolina University has further proven itself to be a force to be reckoned with in the outdoor community. The Catamounts have earned the title of Top Adventure College for a fifth time in our annual Top Adventure College Contest, edging out a solid effort from last years winner Lees-McRae College. Cantrell: Potentially, everyone. We know from invitations to participate and other publicity, students, faculty and staff are engaged in birdwatching, organic gardening and more vigorous pursuits like hiking and mountain biking. When the weather warms, students stretch out in a hammock at WCU’s Electron Garden on the Green, a solar power-generating facility and green space on campus with a multifunctional design that includes outdoors relaxation. There are academic programs that utilize the outdoors, like recreational therapy, geology, and Cherokee studies. Some training and exercises that are outdoor-oriented take place indoors, like our climbing wall and kayak roll clinics. So, really, enjoying the outdoors is an individual thing in how you choose to participate. Then you can find a group or network to pursue it if you’d like. First, location, location, location. The Cullowhee campus is in a natural setting that has many great things to offer, with a short list including the Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pisgah and Nantahala national forests, Chimney Rock and Gorges state parks, DuPont State Forest and numerous lakes, rivers and creeks. There’s a natural environment for practically anything you want to experience. Cantrell: If you had to point to only one activity or event that brings everyone together and is representative of this university and its connection to the outdoors, it would probably be the Tuck River Cleanup. On Saturday, April 13, the 35th annual cleanup will take place, with hundreds of volunteers expected to raft or walk along the Tuckaseigee River between Cullowhee and Whittier, collecting litter and debris. It is believed to be the nation’s largest single-day effort to remove garbage from a waterway. BRO: What outdoor program is WCU most proud of? BRO: Describe what downtime looks like for an outdoor enthusiast at WCU. Cantrell: Entering the 2018 fall semester, WCU for the third consecutive year and the seventh time in the past eight years has increased in both the size, with an 11,639 fall enrollment to be exact, and academic qualifications of the student body. University officials attribute the enrollment surge over the past several years to several factors, including several high-demand degree programs, new and renovated residence halls and dining facilities providing the type of amenities demanded by today’s students, and as you might have guessed, the campus’s mountain location and access to outdoor adventure activities. One reason that WCU is revered as a top outdoor college is its proximity to renowned outdoors adventure havens like Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. Cantrell: Downtime? What downtime?
By Marian Romero / Diálogo June 09, 2017 Testing, please do not approve. The Armed Forces of Colombia launched in January the National Instant Response System for Stabilization Progress (SIRIE, per its Spanish acronym) as an instability monitoring tool for the country. The system is operating nationwide with the purpose of monitoring, verifying, and analyzing factors of instability in regional security in order to adopt appropriate measures that will help improve the quality of life of the citizens. “SIRIE was planned as a tool for building communication bridges with the civilian population, community leaders, indigenous reservations, and other organizations. They can provide valuable information on alleged factors of instability,” said Major General Juan Pablo Amaya, inspector general of the Armed Forces of Colombia. Colombia is going through a period of significant transformation. The end of the armed conflict and the implementation of the accords established in Havana have created rapid changes that are new for everyone in the country. “The speed of these transformations demands efficient adaptations, from an institutional point of view, in order to face persistent threats and emerging threats, and to ensure that the agreements between the national government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia [FARC, per its Spanish acronym] are fully implemented,” said Maj. Gen. Amaya. “With SIRIE, we are looking to have a more complete overview and to restore trust with the population through efficient solutions.” Command center The system has a national call center that can be used by any citizen to report any irregular event that threatens his or her peace or safety. It relies on 13 verification teams for nationwide coverage. Each problem is handled by the general command, which strategically checks the call. It coordinates inspections of the Army, Navy, Air Force, National Police, and Attorney General’s Office. Additionally, the Strategic Command for Transition is charged with securing the Provisional Demobilization Zones (ZVTN, per its Spanish acronym). All of these government entities have a very valuable pool of information. Each one provides solutions to problems within its specialty. “When a call is received, the information is corroborated with government institutions and citizens who can provide details pertinent to the case. When possible, there is a military deployment to the scene of the crime to confirm the situation and to obtain a complete overview,” Colonel Daniel Ricardo Morales, deputy inspector of the General Command of the 7th Army Division, told Diálogo. “Later, an analysis is done at central command and the most efficient strategy is chosen to resolve the problem. From the time the call is received until a solution is found, there is a maximum period of 24 hours,” he added. The SIRIE information network is quite broad. It receives data from the Organization of American States’ Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia, the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, government institutions, and the community at large. All of these elements make SIRIE invulnerable to possible disinformation. Immediate response in Chocó The Pacific department of Chocó has Panama at its northern border, where the so-called Darién Gap — a jungle area that acts as a natural barrier — is located. On its eastern border is the western Andes mountain range. Throughout its history, these geographical conditions have made Chocó a propitious area for armed organized groups to operate in. In March, there were deployments in the municipality of Alto Baudó, in Chocó, due to fighting between the National Liberation Army (ELN, per its Spanish acronym) and the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. Because of the fighting, 500 people moved to the municipal seat of government. To get a more complete view of the problem, Gen. Amaya visited Chocó with a special team and independently met with military, police, and civil authorities. “From all of these conversations, we obtained a truly comprehensive view of the situation. Thus it was possible to formulate a rapid analysis tailored to the circumstances. Of course, it wasn’t an in-depth investigation but rather rapid responses to a crisis moment,” Gen. Amaya said. “In this case, an order was given to increase the operation, to move the Pacific Naval Force’s river units to the river, to control the drug-trafficking routes through military operations, to secure the population, and to move up by one day our development aid for the population. All of that on the same day,” Col. Morales said. The rapid response of the military forces and the strengthening of the military presence made possible the liberation of eight people kidnapped by ELN, the return of people to their homes, and the re-establishment of security in the area. Gen. Amaya stated that the case of Alto Baudó is emblematic because it is a region where trust in the military has been historically low because of the influence of armed organized groups. “Getting to this region involves a change; it means breaking the old paradigms in a population that is warned against the legitimate forces of the state. But when they see that there are quick solutions, they start to trust in lawful channels again. SIRIE is the beginning of that return of trust,” Gen. Amaya concluded.
Web check-in can also be used to settle the bill for accommodation according to the reservation, and all other services used during the stay are charged at the reception upon check-out, according to AHG. Also, Arena Hospitality Group campsites Arena Grand Kažela and Arena One 99 Glamping received “Recommanded 2020” awards from the renowned Italian camping magazine and portal “Golden Camping – Quality Outdoor Experiences”. Web check-in is a simple way of reporting that speeds up and simplifies the whole application process, especially nowadays due to all the epidemiological measures. The link through which the web check-in is performed is sent to the e-mail address specified in the reservation and is active three days before the date of arrival. Upon arrival at the facility, a self-service check-in kiosk can be used for quick document registration and key collection. Arena Hospitality Group (AHG) in July introduced a new online check-in option – web check-in, which significantly shortens check-in times.