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Outing Club Helps Push Students Outdoors

by John Macdonald '03


Related Links:
The Outing Club's Home Page

 

Lead Image:  OC Outing Club

OCTOBER 18, 2002--Since 1979, the Oberlin College Outing Club (OCOC) has provided students with the means to explore America by sponsoring hiking, camping, and backpacking trips. These trips, to national parks in Ohio and points east, have taken students through some of the most scenic areas of the country with little more than a backpack full of supplies, a tent, a sleeping bag, and some old-fashioned know-how.

"The Outing Club is really a resource for students," OCOC co-chair Blake Wilder '03 says. "We want to help people who are interested in planning a trip--but who haven't necessarily had a ton of camping experience--figure out where to go and what to do when they get there."

The club's quarters, in Wilder 407, are crammed with books about hiking and backpacking. OCOC also supplies interested students with maps and guides to northeastern Ohio's state parks, as well as some in western Pennsylvania.

"All of the club's officer's have led trips before," says Wilder. "We can sit down with anyone who comes into the office and walk them through the initial steps of planning a trip. We also can help them plan what they'll need to take, and provide them with tents, sleeping bags, and other gear."

OCOC's officers make it a priority to educate campers before they leave on a trip. Many outings are undertaken without an officer's direct supervision, so every student--from the first-time camper to the most rugged hiker--is taught the basic leadership skills necessary to roughing it in the wilderness.

"A lot of people are interested in camping, but are too scared to organize a trip," says Wilder. "We try to reassure people that you don't need special training to plan a trip--you need common sense. We tailor our education to the individual. We can show you how to work a camping stove, pitch a tent, or tell you where to take a first-aid refresher course before you leave. We cover the basics with everyone."

OCOC also provides gear, including tents and backpacks, to adventurers in need.

In past years, OCOC's officers have organized trips to the Smoky Mountains of southwestern Virginia and the Appalachian Mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont. Club members have trekked along the Appalachian Trail from its starting point in Georgia, through the Allegheny Mountains of western Pennsylvania, and up into southern Maine. Other groups have participated in kayaking, canoeing, and rock-climbing trips; the club's officer's promise that even more outings are in the works.

"I want to lead an 'extreme' trip," Wilder says. "It would be expensive, and we'd do things like mountain-biking and sky-diving. Participants would pay a lot, but they'd have a lot of fun.""

Although there has been a decline in interest in the last ten years, the club's officers still strive to put a camper in every one of OCOC's sleeping bags. Ultimately, it comes down to student interest.

"If people want to go somewhere, we'll do everything we can to help them arrange a trip," Wilder says.

 

 

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