Fund exemplifies Campus Recreation’s commitment to student development

Story by Loretta Capra and Bailey McCaffrey

Making a career out of climbing mountains and hanging from rocks can be difficult.

Former Campus Recreation Outdoor Program staff member Aileen Palma faced this exact problem when she graduated from CSU this spring. Fortunately, with her passion for the outdoors — and a little help from the Campus Recreation Student Development Fund — she was able to get the certifications she needed to succeed in the field of adventure that she cares so much about.

Aileen Palma
Aileen Palma

Student employment, development

Campus Recreation employs more than 350 students each year, making it the third-largest employer on campus. Students fill positions as lifeguards, outdoor program leaders, fitness instructors, intramural officials, building managers, supervisors and over 30 other job titles. Student employees are important to Campus Recreation and play a large role in the department’s success. In 2005, the Student Development Fund was created to provide student staff the opportunity to participate in a variety of development opportunities.

The professional staff at Campus Recreation pride themselves on being much more than supervisors for student employees. The department’s values are “integrity, community and development,” words that are worn proudly by student employees on the back of their work shirts.

Development is defined by staff as “education and teachable moments while guiding sustainable growth.” In the spirit of achieving this value, Campus Recreation puts aside funding on an annual basis to help students attend trainings, seminars and webinars to complete certifications or re-certifications, and represent Colorado State University at regional or national conferences.

Since the fund began, over 300 student employees have been provided with growth opportunities through Campus Recreation.

Aileen Palma
Palma at camp

Although the fund is largely beneficial to student staff, receiving assistance is no easy task. Employees must obtain the backing of their supervisor, apply for funding and, after completion of their chosen development course, present at a Campus Recreation staff meeting.

“This progression provides a valuable learning opportunity for our student employees,” says Cody Frye, executive director of Campus Recreation. “Student recipients of these awards return to the department with new knowledge, improved proficiencies and technical abilities, and enhanced leadership skills. This translates into a committed employee and helps prepare students for careers beyond university life.”

Palma’s journey to Avid4 Adventure

Palma completed the Wilderness First Responder course in January with assistance from the Student Development Fund. Then she got hired as an outdoor leader for the company Avid4 Adventure after graduation.

“Getting my Wilderness First Responder allowed me to be a better leader for the Vamos Outdoors trips I led during my time working for Outdoor Programs at Campus Rec,” Palma says. “Even now with my new job for Avid4 Adventure, I know I can make the best decisions in the case of an emergency. My professional career requires me to be able to work with a variety of ages in multiple risky activities. So I would have eventually needed a WFR to advance in my field. I’m glad that I had the support from Campus Rec to achieve that much sooner.”

An endowment in the CSU Foundation to further build the Campus Recreation Student Development Fund has been supported by numerous individuals and business. More information about the initiative can be found here: