The Outdoor Centre began in 1977 as a simple rental shop focused on renting students camping and outdoor sports equipment at the cheapest possible rate.
Over the years we’ve adding rental equipment and programs and expanded our service to the public to the point of becoming the largest centre of its kind in North America. This year we’ll probably process about 22,000 rental orders and help over 10,000 clients enjoy over 30 unique activities or skills.
Our goal is to provide you the experience, knowledge, and equipment you need to make outdoor activity a regular part of your active lifestyle. With our experienced team of coordinators, and thousands of satisfied users every year we feel confident that we can provide you a excellent experience.
What makes us different than other guiding organizations?
Being a part of the University of Calgary keeps us focused on providing the solid education and training you need to become safe and skilled in the outdoors. While we do offer guided trips to support your learning, these are educational too, and you’ll walk away with more knowledge and skills than you entered with.
Kurtis Kinnear is the director of the Outdoor Centre and Active Living Programs at the University of Calgary.
What year did you start at the Outdoor Centre? I started at the Outdoor Centre in 2006 as the youth program coordinator and was moved to serve as Director in 2008.
What attracted you to work at the Outdoor Centre? I started at the Outdoor Centre because I believed in what they were doing and where we could go with it. Who really wants to buy specialized outdoor gear that takes up space, gets old, and has to be maintained? I sure didn’t.
I only learned about the programs after I started working here and I was amazed by the experience, skills, and passion that our coordinators and guides have in so many different areas. We have a ACMG full mountain guide who is a legend in mountaineering, a hang glider pilot who holds one of the highest certifications in Canada, a paddler who has canoed nearly everywhere in western Canada, one of the first guides to develop sea kayaking on the West Coast and the list goes on and on.
It is their passion for introducing new activities to others that continues to motivate me to be better, and to find new ways to help our clients every day.
What activities make you excited about getting outside?
Although I enjoy most activities, these days I am really enjoying cycling – especially in the mountains. I have found that it has become a truly great way to wind down the stresses of my life as the miles roll by.
What was your best experience ever in the great outdoors?
When I was around 13 years old I grabbed my fishing rod and some tack just before dusk and hopped on my horse bareback and rode out to a spot that I thought would be a great fishing hole - about 1 or 2 miles away from our “cow camp” in the mountains. I don’t remember catching a thing, but it didn’t matter because there was something about the tranquility and beauty of that scene that I have never forgotten.
What is your favourite outdoor meal?
I am still a bit of a cowboy at heart - If I know there will be a fire and I can somehow manage to safely pack, cook, and eat a steak on any adventure, the rest of what I eat really doesn’t matter! I remember finishing a night scuba diving course and somehow managing to pull off a perfect medium-rare steak in the fire while everyone else was eating their hot dogs… that was a good night.
Why do you think people should take your programs?
I have complete faith in the expertise and complete knowledge of our team. They know what they’re doing and most importantly they know how to have fun. You’ll come as a client, but you’ll leave a member of the Outdoor Centre’s extended family! Of course we also have great prices and we have spent a lot of time and money to improve our vast inventory, making sure we have excellent gear for you to rent.