St. JOSEPH -- Students at St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict celebrated their victory in a first-ever nationwide college outdoor challenge with a party this afternoon.

The bitter cold did not stop students from coming out to partake in the celebration that included various games, fresh pancakes, a horse ride, and other activities.

The students celebrated a victory in the first-ever Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge, a competition with nine other colleges around the country. Colleges had to apply to be involved in the challenge - something that Jenny Kutter of St. John's Outdoor University says was an easy decision.

"It really was a no-brainer," Kutter says - citing the ideas promoted St. John's Outdoor University as well as the area's beautiful scenery. Kutter says the schools should be involved with the challenge in its future competitions.

"This was the first year that Outdoor Nation sponsored this competition," Kutter says. "We are the first winners and hopefully we'll be the biggest winners in years going forward."

For the competition, students could do up to five outdoor activities a day to score points. St. John's student Pearce Jensen was the leader in points tallied in the competition that wrapped up in the fall.

"I've always had a love for the outdoors," Jensen says. "Some of my common activities [during the competition] were biking from one campus to the other, going for hikes in the arboretum at St. John's - stuff like that."

For winning the challenge, St. John's/St. Ben's received $10,000 in outdoor gear along with money to host the celebration festival.

Photo by Isaac Schweer, WJON