An October moon rise over kayaks on Capers Island. (Chopper Johnson)

View from the Sidelines: It’s Time to Get Out

An October moon rise over kayaks on Capers Island. (Photo by Chopper Johnson)

Raise your hand if you came to the College of Charleston because it is located in the middle of one of the most beautiful cities in America, and is a bike ride from the beach (trust me, it is).

Now, keep your hand up if you haven’t been more than six blocks away from your dorm since your parents dropped you off your freshman year.

If you still have your hand raised, it’s time to get out, and Gene Sessoms is the man that can help you do that.

Sessoms, the director of the College’s Campus Recreation Services, runs a slew of events on campus, including intermural leagues for sports like basketball, volleyball and kickball, as well as tournaments in a dozen other activities like dodgeball, racquetball and table tennis.

Campus Rec also offers a series of adventures that capitalizes on what it means to live in the unique and varied climate of South Carolina.

“You don’t have to travel far to be able to enjoy outdoor opportunities on a vastly different scale,” Sessoms said, citing that while the campus is 10 minutes from the beach and 20 minutes from the best climbing wall in the state, it is also only a few hours away from the mountains and waterfalls of the Upstate.

The author, learning how to paddleboard on the Folly River this summer.

The author, learning how to paddleboard on the Folly River this summer.

By pairing with the extensive Charleston County Park and Recreation system, the College is able to offer several overnight wilderness trips, including a kayak camping trip to Capers Island (an uninhabited barrier island north of the peninsula) and a three-day rock climbing trip to Table Rock, N.C. Sessoms also mentioned that there might be another overnight camping trip, to Kings Mountain, in the works for this fall if there is enough interest, and a geocaching event in downtown Charleston in the spring.

Sessoms, who grew up in scouting, has a love of the outdoors that he likes to share with others. While he knows that fewer and fewer college-age students have spent time camping, he believes it is an infectious activity for those who give it a try.

“Most American kids will go, ‘Big deal, I’m going camping.’ But I look at it another way. We’re getting out of town for the weekend, and we get to do something brand new. It’s a chance to sit around a campfire. What the heck, that sounds good. Let’s go. That’s an adventuresome spirit.”

But what if your schedule doesn’t allow you to take a weekend off to camp on a deserted beach, or stare out over a majestic mountain vista? Sessoms still has you covered.

With CCPR, Campus Rec offers a series of afternoon kayak trips and standup paddleboard lessons; while the SUP lessons are $10 per person, the kayak trips are free for CofC students. The final two kayak trips this semester are Sept. 21 and 26, and there are still slots open in the SUP lessons on Oct. 3 and 11.

Tents of the College of Charleston students camping on uninhabited Capers Island. (Photo by Chopper Johnson)

While I’ve done weeklong backpacking trips on the Appalachian Trail and rafted some of the best rivers the Southeast has to offer, I was lucky enough to snag a spot on the Capers kayak trip two years ago, and it still ranks as one of the coolest things I have ever done. The afternoon kayak trips give you a view of Charleston Harbor that you will never get from the Battery. I’m even dragging Sarah Sheafer, editor-in-chief of CisternYard News, out to a stand-up paddleboarding trip this week.

It is possible to go through your entire College of Charleston career without getting more than six blocks away from your dorm. I know from experience that it can be a really cool six blocks. But to spend four years like that is to ignore one of the greatest assets the school has: the fact that it is the College of Charleston.

So get out. Go kayaking. Sign up for an SUP lesson. Take a bike ride out to Sullivan’s. Do something that takes advantage of being in one of the coolest cities in the country.

Isn’t that why you came here in the first place?


Gene Sessoms can be reached through e-mail at, by phone at 843-953-5559 or in his office, Room 207 of the Silcox Gym, at the corner of George and Meeting.

*The views in this article represent the opinion of the author, and not those of CisternYard News.

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