By: Casey Drum
UGA’s fall break always falls on the last weekend of October, more notably the weekend of the Georgia v. Florida rivalry football game. Athens has cooled off, and it has been a tradition for years for students to make the five-hour drive to St. Simons Island. To many undergraduates and recent graduates, this weekend is known as the “Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”
This year, however, the infamous weekend is changing. Glynn County is cracking down on the beach party, better known as “Frat Beach,” and the underage drinking and irresponsibility that comes with the long weekend. County commissioners sent a letter to UGA, as well as University of Florida, surrounding South Georgia colleges and local high schools, warning students of precautions this year.
Glynn County Commissioner, Dale Provenzano, wants to remind UGA students that the tradition of the Georgia Florida weekend has always been the coming together of students and alumni on St. Simons Island before gameday. Alumni love to share “back in my day” stories with current students. Provenzano says that Frat Beach has only become a tradition within the last five or six years, and he hopes to bring back the true tradition of bonding over a love for UGA and football.
Many students, such as Alexis Cason, a sophomore management information systems major from Peachtree City, have considered canceling their reservations altogether. Although Frat Beach will not be the same as students remember from years past, that does not mean you should cancel your trip. There are countless places to explore while in the Golden Isles. Some students only ever see the beach, but that is not all that the 17 square-mile barrier island has to offer.
Many people are unaware of the history that resides on the island. St. Simons is the home of Fort Frederica, a fort settled by James Oglethorpe in 1736 to protect the British colony of Georgia from Spanish raids from the south. Visitors can take a ranger-led tour of the national park. Entrance into the park is free; making this a great learning experiences combined with breathtaking marsh views.
On the other end of the island resides the current St. Simons Lighthouse, built in 1872. Visitors can climb the 129 steps to the top, reading about its history along the way while taking in the views of the surrounding barrier islands from the top. There is also a geocache to be found at the top of the lighthouse, placed by one of the current light keepers. It costs only twelve dollars to tour the lighthouse and museum.
A short walk from the lighthouse will bring you to the pier and village area. Patrons can fish from the pier or walk on the beach. The pier is the focal point of the village, which is home to many restaurants and shops. Grab an ice cream cone from St. Simons Sweet Shop, and take a stroll through the village. Most of the restaurants offer outdoor seating so patrons can sit outdoors and enjoy some local seafood.
You can also make your way off the island to do some exploring. A ten-minute drive off St. Simons and over the Sidney Lanier Bridge will bring you to another barrier island, Jekyll Island. There is a five-dollar toll to get onto the island. Jekyll is a smaller residential island home to more history, golf courses, beaches and etc. Visitors can take the Millionaires Village tour, which tours the cottages owned by notable millionaires in the early 1900’s, such as J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, and more.
Visitors to Jekyll can play one of the four golf courses, or if you cannot stay under par, try your hand on the putt-putt course. Visitors can also learn about the wildlife in the Golden Isles by visiting the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. The center is committed to increasing wildlife awareness and offers an interactive exhibit and gallery with a rehabilitation pavilion, which commonly houses sea turtle patients. With a college ID, entrance is six dollars. While on Jekyll, visitors should make their way to a unique spot known as Driftwood Beach for a relaxing end to the day.
On gameday Saturdays, many locals make their way to Brogen’s Food and Spirits in the village, regionally known as “Bulldawg Headquarters.” If you are not making the hour trip to Jacksonville for the game, Brogen’s is the place to be. Brogen’s waitress Arielle Madala says that, weather permitting, they will place televisions outdoors so patrons can enjoy the game, food, beer, cornhole and even some live music along with the South Georgia weather. Brogen’s is conveniently located just across from the pier, with an awesome view from their upstairs seating area. UGA students will be happy to know that Brogen’s offers cans of Hopsecutioner from local brewery Terrapin.
These are the traditions that St. Simons locals hope the Georgia Florida weekend will make its way back to. Many students are used to the beach party, but the UGA student body should not be deterred from visiting St. Simons Island over their fall break. Visitors can find plenty to do while in the Golden Isles. The region is full of history that visitors can experience. If students are just up for a relaxing weekend, St. Simons is the place to spend it. So do not cancel those reservations just yet, because you can still have a fun-filled, safe weekend on St. Simons Island.
By Lauren Clark
A glowing laptop screen illuminates the furrowed brow of a student. After spending a good deal of time in Athens, she has furthered herself intellectually by attending classes, studying and being the best pupil she could possibly be. Yet, her sparse résumé says otherwise. The white, blank space just underneath “Involvements” stares right back at her. Where can she find the time and place to volunteer and gain experience to separate her from the rest of the applicants once she enters the real world? Well, all she needs to do is look to the great outdoors of Athens.
Bear Hollow Zoo
Look past the sorority houses off of Milledge Avenue to find the real wildlife: bears, owls and gators, oh my. This outdoor zoo is home to rehabilitated animals native to Georgia. Each exhibit is home to a rescued animal who can no longer survive on its own. Volunteers are needed to maintain the landscaping, feedings and general cleanliness of the animals’ homes. Clint Murphy, project organizer of Bear Hollow Zoo, expresses the importance of caring for the wildlife, “The animals have to be fed regardless of the weather or what football game is going on.” When students aren’t clapping for their favorite mascot, they could lend those hands to a greater cause.
Near Riverbend, students will find a greenhouse that encloses plants grown and raised by members of the horticulture club. Once fully matured, the volunteers host a plant sell. Students are involved from sapling to receipt. They learn how to not only nourish plants, but how to sell a product. After logging a number of hours, participants are granted admittance to trips to go see natural wonders, such as Yosemite National Park or Calloway Gardens. Horticulture Club Vice President Malone Thomason claims it can be so much more than the trips saying, “Being a part of Horticulture Club enhanced my knowledge of not only horticulture, but interpersonal relationships.”
Youth Soccer Coach
Working in the outdoors doesn’t always have to be work. Instead, play a game of soccer with the children of Athens-Clarke County. Take a wide open soccer field, a whistle and a group of children and suddenly you have the workings of a real team. A volunteer coach doesn’t have to lead the team to the World Cup - they simply have to teach the kids the value of teamwork, ensure their safety and cheer the little athletes on. And with some training to the coaches themselves, the soccer players may even learn how to kick the ball.
Suit up for battle in long pants, gloves and some clippers. The Weed Warriors are an organization that combat non-native invasive plants along Birchmore Trail that winds through Memorial Park. As a grounds that takes pride in the plants that originated here in Georgia, it is vital that the intruding plant population is removed in order for the desired species to flourish. This award-winning organization is looking for others to join their fight. Think of how awesome it would be to add “warrior” to a resume.
Sandy Creek Nature Trail Guide
When you’re lost on what to do with your time, give others directions. It’s a simple process to become a trail guide at Sandy Creek Park. Volunteers lead groups of children through wooded trails while educating them on nature-related subjects. Wielding a handbook and a granola bar, you can show the kids examples of what will be taught in the lesson so that they learn hands-on. Become a teacher and student as you learn more about the environment around you.
By Annie Wimbush
As fall draws near, it becomes the perfect time to head outside and enjoy activities and locations you may have never known about. With the heat of summer backing off and the cooling breeze of the fall sweeping in, the outdoors is just where you want to be.
As a student, it can be hard to find time to look for new places to explore or even visit the same fun places you’ve been before. To make it a little easier for you, we’ve found some hot fishing spots, beautiful trails and parks in and near Athens that you won’t want to miss this fall.
Sandy Creek Park, located right off of Martin Luther King Parkway, has three major trails adding up to over ten miles of beautiful hiking land. The entrance fee for adults is only $2 with access to Lake Chapman, picnic spots, an abundance of open land and more. Because of the large size of the lake, there are many quiet spots for fishing. The most common fish caught at this park are large-mouth bass, channel catfish, bullhead catfish, crappie and bream. Sandy Creek Park is the perfect place to visit in the fall because of the beautiful trees that will surround you in any activity at the park. This is not a location that you will regret visiting.
Another hot fishing spot that you won’t want to miss this fall is Crow’s Lake and Catfish Farm. Although this location, right outside of Jefferson, is a little further from campus than Sandy Creek Park, it is well worth the drive. The hours of operation are more limited but the amount of fun you can have is limitless. There is such an abundance of catfish in this lake that you are almost guaranteed a catch with every cast. Aside from the fishing opportunities, a 5k, 10k and obstacle course routes are drawn out for those interested. Weaving through trees and along the water, there are wonderful views of nature to enjoy while taking on these trails.
Lastly, Fort Yargo State Park, located between Atlanta and Athens, is another pay by day location where guests can enjoy quiet fishing spots and 18 miles of scenic trails. This location is a perfect weekend getaway, with 52 campsites, 13 camper cabins and other rentable housing. People are able to kick back and enjoy the many amenities offered from the park as well as quiet spots for that much needed alone time.
Along with all of these beautiful locations, Athens has many more hot fishing spots and trails with views that will take your breath away. The university itself is covered with rivers and trails that you could probably find easily by taking a quick stroll outside. There are so many places that just need to be discovered by you, and what better time to explore these locations than in the perfect mix of warmth and coolness the fall brings?
By Jared Dangremond
When I went backpacking this past summer in north Georgia, I had no idea how my trip would pan out. It certainly wasn’t my first time backpacking, nor my first time on the specific trail we hiked in Cloudland Canyon State Park. However, it was the first time for my friend Kyle, which meant for the first time I was backpacking with someone who had never been before.
Now Kyle is a capable young lad, but in this context I was the one who had to do the heavy metaphorical lifting. (The physical lifting was split between us with around 40 pounds on both of our backs.) I packed everything we needed from a first aid kit to a deck of cards. I labored intensely making sure I got everything we needed because when you’re out on the trail, you only have what you brought in your pack.
Yet somehow we forgot everything. Well not everything, but it seemed like with every half mile of hiking I remembered something else we were lacking. First, I realized I forgot that deck of cards. Then, Kyle realized he forgot a lighter and some tinder for the fire. But most importantly we realized a miscommunication between the two of us left us with just one person’s supply of water.
We were never in any real danger or anything, but our lacks made us very careful and deliberate with our actions in a way that we, as a culture, are not used to doing. I called upon all of my survival knowledge that I had obtained during my days as a Boy Scout and together we made it through the weekend. The two of us rationed water effectively, and I managed to start a decent fire without a lighter (in the truest of Boy Scout ways). A great time was had by all, despite a couple of panic attacks in the beginning.
At the end of the trip Kyle asked me how I knew what I did and how I was able to quickly call and act upon my survival knowledge. I suppose I was taught some things by my parents and some things by friends, but most was probably learned through experience.
I learned from Kyle that people are scared to try “outdoors-ier” things because of a lapse of knowledge they don’t believe they can overcome. While it’s true you can’t learn all the necessary survival skills from a WikiHow article the night before, there are many ways to gather knowledge so that you feel comfortable venturing out into the world.
First there are guides for all sorts of outdoor activities and necessary skills that can be found online. I have, on many occasions, supplemented my knowledge with some YouTube videos. I’ve always been more of a visual learner, but there are thousands of written guides in print and online alike. These are especially useful for things like first aid information or maybe even knot tying guides. Of course, those can actually be folded into a backpack or saved to your phone.
In addition to reading guides, studying up on the specific place you’re heading to is also wise. Learning what kind of flora and fauna are there, especially the dangerous ones, will prepare you for a safe trip. This usually goes without saying, but also checking weather forecasts and actively preparing for potential conditions goes a long ways towards surviving and enjoying time outdoors. So many problems can be prevented with proper gear for heat, cold, wind and rain. And finally, many online forums actually have reviews and helpful advice for certain parks, areas or trails. Sometimes seasoned hikers or outdoorsmen and women will share helpful tips specific to the area you’re heading to.
But reading and watching guides, especially on depressing things like what to do if a bear eats all of your food, can really bog you down. Sometimes all of the information can scare away someone from doing any outdoor activity all together. So while it is very important to be knowledgeable about important things like first aid and situational issues such as bears, it is also important to not overload with information and just go out there. Like I said, the majority of my outdoor knowledge came from trying things out. The outdoors isn’t as scary of a place as it might seem. Whether it’s a day hike in Georgia or a summit attempt on Everest, doing a little bit of preparing, grabbing a friend and just going somewhere is the best way to experience what nature has to offer.
By Ashley Dozier
Picture this: a nice spot under a shady tree with the sun just overhead and a slight breeze passing through. Got that? Okay good, let’s try another scenario. Now imagine that you and your friends are playing ultimate frisbee out on Herty Field or Myers Quad. Can you picture that? The majority of you will say yes. You can picture yourselves enjoying the great outdoors and all it has to offer… but could you picture it without a selfie?
When you walk around campus or downtown, you witness a world within a world. That world is the digital realms of social media. We are all guilty of documenting our outings with friends, Snapchatting ourselves making silly faces as we walk to class or flooding Instagram with delicious pictures of our meals. And we can all guiltily admit to scrolling and obsessively jumping from one profile page to the next looking at picture after picture of the latest feed the second we feel the slightest pinch of boredom.
Sahaper Bhowjwani, a senior from Fayetteville, says, “I actually have updated my status in class because I got bored, and I see people updating all the time especially on Snapchat. Everyone’s trying to keep in touch with what’s going on around them.” We live to be individuals and get the most out of life, but often that boils down to the next Instagram picture, tweet or snap about what we just did or what we’re doing now instead of actually living in the moment.
We have been conditioned to seek some sort of entertainment at all times whether that’s listening to music while walking to class or scrolling through the latest tweets. We thrive on getting the next like, favorite, reblog or repost. By doing this, however, we are missing out on the best parts of life because we are living through a screen. The addictions that we have to our electronics are numbing us to the world around us. No matter how much you try, you’ll never be able to feel the sunshine through a screen or hear the crunch of leaves walking to class with earphones in your ears. You’ll never know the friends that you would have made waiting for the bus if you spend all your time watching your “friends” on Facebook.
It’s time that we wake up, UGA! Our campus is one of the most beautiful campuses in the South with all of our gardens, lush fields and beautiful architecture. Take some time out of your day and notice it every now and then. “I think it’s good to take a break from social media because you get to experience talking to people face to face,” says Kaina Jalia, a junior from Tucker. “You get to relax and enjoy the campus, especially the fountain.”
Enjoy all that our campus has to offer for yourself, in person and through the lens of your own eyes while you have the chance. New photos, statuses and social media pages come and go (just ask MySpace), but having unobstructed quality time with your friends and family is priceless and does last forever.
“There are a lot of positive effects of social media!” Bhojwani says. “You get to keep in contact with everyone around you, but taking a break is vital. You get to self reflect and embrace what’s around you and see this beautiful campus.”
As the last weeks of summer roll out and fall begins, try stepping out of your comfort zones and unplugging for a while. Walk around campus and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you. Take time to meet new people as you walk to class. That girl or guy you’ve noticed on Facebook or Instagram, go invite them to hang out near the turtle pond or get to know them while you both jump in the fountain at Herty Field. Challenge yourself to leave your phone in your backpack for the day and find new ways to entertain yourself outside. Take a walk, go for a jog with a friend, study in the sunshine. The possibilities are endless. Chances are that if you unplugged for a while, you’ll find something that you’ve never seen before. I promise, your Twitter feed will still be there when you come back.
By Sarah Panner
Athens is typically known for its diverse restaurants, fabulous shopping and vibrant nightlife. What many do not realize, though, is how many outdoor activities Athens has to offer as well. Downtown Athens is a huge part of the experience for every UGA student, but the parks and recreational centers beyond downtown will be sure to give locals a newfound appreciation for the Classic City.
293 Gran Ellen Drive, Athens, GA 30606
Right off of Milledge Avenue is Memorial Park – one of the most popular parks in Athens. It can be distinguished from the other parks for its privately owned and operated Bear Hollow Zoo, which is home to many animals, such as black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, numerous birds and more. It is free to enter the park and zoo and would serve as a perfect first-date opportunity, a place to bring a family member who is visiting from out of town or just something different to do with friends on a sunny day. It is open everyday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Of course, there is much more to this luring park besides Bear Hollow Zoo. The Birchmore Trail is about two miles in length and was dedicated to Fred Birchmore, the Athens local who built the historic stone wall behind his home. Additionally, Memorial Park has basketball courts, dog parks and swimming pools.
Southeast Athens Clarke Park
4440 Lexington Road, Athens, GA 30605
In March of 2004, over 1,600 volunteers came together to build one of the most impressive playgrounds the state of Georgia has seen. The World of Wonder was actually designed by the local children of Athens in November 2002. The plaque outside of the playground says that the volunteers put 15,000 hours of work into this playground, and the results confirm the dedication and hard work for Athens families (and UGA students) to be able to spend time with each other. The playground has swings, monkey bars, slides, rock climbing walls and more.
As of this year, the playground will be replaced to be bigger, sturdier and even more impressive. According to Online Athens, the new playground will be given a $550,000 budget and will be located directly next to where the original WOW was built off Whit Davis Road.
Keith Kirkland is the maintenance supervisor and has been with Athens-Clarke County since April of 2014. He says, “The playground will be completely different. The user groups are working on the conceptual designs, so we aren’t sure what the playground will have until they’re done, but the existing playground will remain open until the new playground is finished.”
Beyond Whit Davis Road is the main entrance of Southeast Athens Clarke Park. Some of the highlights beyond the WOW playground are its massive soccer fields, the skate park and baseball fields. The dog park is also in this area of the park while they are refurbishing Wiggly Field, the original dog park.
Sandy Creek Park
400 Bob Holman Road, Athens, GA 30607
Need a day at the beach before Georgia/Florida? Sandy Creek Park is the place to go. About 10 minutes from Downtown Athens is one of the most breath-taking views there is to see in Athens, particularly around sunset. Sandy Creek Park encourages the Athens community to bring chairs, coolers, umbrellas and any other beach necessities to its beach at Lake Chapman. Beach-goers can either soak up the sun on the brown sugar sand or can take a dip in the water in the roped off swimming area. Luckily for us, this area of the park is open all year.
For the more active water-lovers, Sandy Creek Park allows its guests to bring a boat or a canoe to sail on Lake Chapman at no extra charge. Keep in mind, though, gasoline motors are not allowed. Sandy Creek Park also allows fishing. Some of the most common fish they have caught have been different types of catfish, largemouth bass and others.
Another highlight of this park are its rental pavilions. After a long day of fun in the sun, the BBQ building is perfect for the last few outdoor meals before the cold weather kicks in. It can accommodate up to 75 people. For smaller get-togethers, there are picnic pavilions that can hold about 30 people. This park definitely provides a social experience for only $2 for admission.
Sandy Creek Nature Center
205 Old Commerce Road, Athens, GA 30607
To make a day at Sandy Creek Park even more fulfilling, the Sandy Creek Park Nature Center is exactly three miles down the road on the way back into Athens. While each of the parks have trails to hike, Sandy Creek Nature Center’s trails are accommodating to almost anyone. The ADA Trail, for example, allows visitors to walk and if necessary, use wheelchairs or walkers. It also contains an interpretive area for those who are blind. Cook’s trail is the longest distance of 8.2 miles for a round trip, but the up-close experience of wetlands, a beaver swamp and a marsh makes the trip worth it.
Starting this winter, volunteers will work together on the center’s managed forest project. The Athens-Clarke County website states that the goal is to “eradicate invasive species, open the forest canopy, improve plant and animal diversity, promote flowering plants and pollinators and highlight decades of forest succession in a series of visitor-friendly outdoor exhibits.” The park already has a wide variety of plants and animals, so when the project is finished, there will be even more incentive to visit.
Michelle Cash has been a naturalist at the nature center for three years. She says, “We are always looking for volunteers, and we will always try to find a place for people who want to help.” She also emphasized that students can apply to be camp counselors or intern for the center, and both of these positions are paid.
Locations for outdoor activities is just another unique characteristic of Athens that makes it so special. These parks further validate that there is something for everyone to find enjoyment in. Some days, seeing the inside of Athens walls is the most appealing, but others, getting outdoors and appreciating the beautiful scenery of an incredible city is even better.
By Jazmyn Matthews
If you live in Georgia, you don’t really get four seasons in a year. You get a couple months of fall, a couple months of spring, a couple weeks of winter and the rest is just summer. That’s it. Six hot months and then a few other seasons scattered throughout the rest of the year. One good thing about the long summer months, however, is the opportunity to spend time outdoors.
“I like the feeling of a cool breeze or the warmth of the sun rather than the artificial air conditioner or heater,” says Emily Unholz, a senior psychology major from Warner Robins. “I enjoy breathing in fresh air.” In addition to being refreshing, it turns out that being outside is actually beneficial to your health.
Here are four health benefits to being “one with nature,” according to Appalachian Trials:
As you can see, there are a lot of benefits to being outside. “Being outside makes me feel more tuned into my inner self,” says Emmanuel Nkereuwem, a senior management information systems major from Atlanta. Other than being able to look at the pretty birds and to people-watch the students on campus, the outside air is good for you and brings important time for self-reflection. The next time you’re stressing about the next organic chemistry test or dreading writing that English paper you’ve been putting off, take a walk outside. Your brain could use the rest and by the time you come back, you’ll be ready to conquer that homework assignment.
Fresh air is free. And isn’t that a college student’s favorite word?