By Samantha Thompson

Now students looking for a break can choose to surf the rough waves of Santa Cruz or just sit in the serenity of a yoga class for relief.
UCSC Recreation, a department within the Office of Physical Education, Recreation and Sports (OPERS), has given UC Santa Cruz students the opportunity to take part in many different kinds of classes and excursions outside the everyday classroom.
"It takes [students] out of the four walls and gives them opportunities to get involved in student life outside of academics," Mark McCarroll, director of UCSC Recreation, said.
As a result of last year’s spring election, in which students voted yes on Measure 26, which charges studetns $4 per quarter, the Recreation department has received $180,000 in increased funding. The additional money supports student-run clubs like Warrior Yoga and also helps secure scholarships for people who might otherwise not be able to participate in the department’s activities, as $45,000 of the funds go toward financial aid.
There are nearly 100 different activities offered this quarter, and over 3,000 students have signed up for various programs.
The program sponsors activities ranging from hiking trips to Yosemite to dancing classes to kayaking, all at generally affordable costs. The programs are self-supporting and class fees goes toward paying teachers and trip leaders, many of whom have been involved with UCSC Recreation for years.
"We have really good student leaders that lead the trips and the best teachers that you could possibly find in this community," McCarroll said. "They are giving back to students, because they love to teach, especially to college students because they are so into it and want to learn."
Some classes, such as surfing and backpacking, are in such high demand that students have been known to sleep outside the office the night before registration in order to secure themselves a spot.
Second-year student Lindsey Simon has participated in recreational programs for the past two years.
"You know that they believe in what they’re doing," Simon said. "That makes you feel empowered and want to come back again."
According to McCarroll, some students are hesitant to sign up because they are worried about doing something all on their own. However, he said, most find themselves "jazzed" after taking one of the classes.
Second-year student Mina Chung agreed.
"It’s challenging and welcoming," Chung said of the department’s program lineup.
Chung explained that she found recreation programs to be a good stress reliever, and hoped to continue taking classes despite carrying a full academic load.
McCarroll hopes that even more students take advantage of the programs UCSC Recreation has to offer.
"Give it a chance and find the magic," McCarroll said. "There’s magic in each one of these trips and classes."