A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Meet the Mason Nation: Ryan Murphy

By Cathy Cruise, MFA '93 on April 26, 2017

Job: Coordinator, Outdoor Adventures

As the ad used to say, it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure. And for Ryan Murphy, coordinator of Mason Recreation’s Outdoor Adventures program, each week offers a new chance for travel and discovery. Since the program began in 2014, Murphy has spent weekends leading Mason students and faculty away from books and desks and into the outdoors. He decides what trips to take, and handles requirements for programming, equipment, permits, and trip leader training, for nearly 30 trips a year.

Ryan Murphy

Nature Trail: Before Mason, Murphy crisscrossed the country for nearly 12 years, beginning at Hamilton College in New York, where he got a degree in environmental studies and sustainability and worked as assistant director of outdoor orientation. From there he ran a ropes course in Colorado, practiced wilderness therapy in Utah and Nevada, was a senior outdoors educator in the Adirondacks, and conducted adventure-based outreach services at Princeton University. He’s certified as an American Mountain Guide Association climbing instructor, a wilderness EMT, and a river canoeing instructor.

Getting His Feet Wet: Although he spent plenty of time outdoors as a kid, Murphy says his family “didn’t really go camping. I grew up in Owego, New York, on the Susquehanna River, canoeing, fishing, and just being in the woods a lot. But it wasn’t until my college outdoor program that I went down the rabbit hole.”

Good Company: “Trips tend to fill up, and we typically have a wait list,” Murphy says. “We’re a very diverse group with a lot of international students, grad students, visiting researchers. Considering Mason’s large student population and campus, we’re still quite small, but we’re growing.” Beginner to advanced outdoor enthusiasts can hike, bike, canoe, rock climb, and more on one-day, overnight, or longer excursions. Destinations include places like Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park and Annapolis Rocks in Maryland’s South Mountain State Park.

Playing Favorites: Murphy’s preferred activities are rock climbing, skiing, and, especially, canoeing “at sunrise, when the water’s like glass,” he says. A particularly memorable moment occurred on a training trip to Assateague Island last spring. “We canoed out to these wild horses way out on this grassy point off the island, and we paddled up pretty close to them. We were in the pouring rain, but it was really warm. And really pretty.”


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