Penn State adult learner and US Marine leads others in outdoor adventures

February 20, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Kyle Larson, a Penn State adult learner and a trip leader for Outdoor Adventures, a unit of Campus Recreation, has devoted his life to outdoor recreation.

Larson joined the Marine Corps when he was 17 years old. After four years in the infantry with the United States Marine Corps, Kyle became a squad leader at Camp Pendleton in California. Larson had promised his dad he would someday go to college, and he chose to attend Penn State after two deployments, as an adult learner.

Larson, a labor employment relations major, said he realized he had a passion for working with and for people.

“I’m the president of the Veteran’s Organization, a trip leader for Outdoor Adventures, and I’m a student sponsor for new student veterans," he said. "Essentially, I work with the Office of Veterans Program here on campus for new student veterans that come to Penn State. It can be a tough transition for them — it especially was for me — it’s my job to mentor them, be there for them, and answer any questions they have."

Being a trip leader with Outdoor Adventures has helped Larson grow into who he is today, he added.

“A lot of adult learners (like myself originally) just want to come to college to get a degree and move on to the next chapter of their life. But I think it's so important to get out of your bubble and interact with other students. Penn State is already such a tightly knit and proud university, making any community within Penn State a blast to be a part of,” Larson said. “I really enjoy the therapeutic aspect of the outdoors. It makes me feel more connected to the way humans evolved as outdoor creatures. It's good to get back to that lifestyle and away from a computer screen as much as I can.”

Larson said that his experience with Outdoor Adventures has fostered incredible relationships that he feels he wouldn’t have been able to make, otherwise.

Outdoor Adventures is a base camp for adventure and offers a wide range of services and opportunities for indoor and outdoor adventures to students, faculty and staff, and other members. Through group activities, Outdoor Adventures offers a personalized experience tailored to help groups meet their goals — whether that’s teamwork, problem solving, trust building, or even just fun — through team development programs, climbing experiences, and custom trips. Additionally, students and members can take advantage of the Outdoor Rental Center, located in the Intramural (IM) Building, complete with rental gear to help people get outside in all four seasons.

Larson said he found that many of the skills he learned in the Marine Corps are transferable to his current job as trip leader. He said that leadership and interpersonal communication skills, as well as technical knowledge such as understanding rope systems and map reading, are all useful in day-to-day tasks and when he leads groups on trips.

“In the marines, managing the morale of your squad and its group dynamics is extremely important to be an effective fighting force. It's the same way as a trip leader, except that I manage the group dynamics so that everyone has fun and achieves their goals,” Larson explained.

Larson’s ambitions go beyond his time here at Penn State. Ideally, he dreams of having a professional career in human resource management at a small-to-medium sized outdoor company.

Last Updated February 21, 2020