For those taking Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) at U of T, a course called Outdoor Project (ODP) must be fulfilled in order to graduate.

For the non-KPE undergrad, the first activity, which initiates you into university, would probably be frosh week. However, unlike any other university program, U of T’s KPE program offers its students the opportunity to ship off to Muskoka to visit Camp New Moon, where students meet, play, and learn to become a team with their fellow students.

The KPE department takes a different approach to the usual college vs. college frosh week activities by promoting social interaction and group cohesion that not only optimize students’ relationships throughout the trip, but throughout their entire four year degree, which is why, during frosh week, the KPE department shines with unexpected harmony and friendship.

ODP courses, which include ODP200 ‘advanced canoe tripping’ and ODP302 ‘fundamentals of winter camping’ basically act as program-wide icebreakers, rather than tests of academic and athletic feats — a credit/no credit course option ensures that students need not worry too much about the academic aspects of the course.

Instructed by third and fourth year students, ODP requires some degree of athleticism and stamina, as activities range from a 12-hour outdoor survival program to canoeing, kayaking, and sailing — all of which are designed to promote equal parts teamwork and physical skill.

But, is the ODP program an essential component of the Bachelors of Kinesiology and Physical Education degree? 

Aside from the fact that outdoorsman training might be an important skill set in the physical education aspect of the KPE program, many graduates from the department go on to careers in physiotherapy, exercise pathology, and sport psychology, which do not specifically require outdoor camping skills, nor knowledge of how to build a fire, as prerequisites. And at a cost of over $300, some students argue that the mandatory ODP courses — which don’t count towards any degree credits — are not the best use of their time, or of their money.

The reason the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education has been successfully running the ODP-level courses is their determination to create a close-knit community of teammates, rather than a faculty of students.    

As other programs, colleges, and faculties turn into battlegrounds during frosh week, and compete against one another to earn honors in their academic fields, the students within the KPE department are at an advantage in so far as they’re not only able to communicate, and interact within a faculty of their friends, but also work towards their degrees as a team. 

Disclosure: Hussein Fawzy is a member of Varsity Publications Inc.’s Board of Directors