Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Breaking Out

Our University is known for a lot of things. Booze. Riots. An encroaching police force and rising tuition fees. One thing it isn’t known for is its student organizations.

But the Outing Club is looking to change that.

Established in 1922, the Outing Club gains distinction as one of the oldest – and most revered – student organizations on campus. Administered entirely through the student body it comprises, the Outing Club has been staging voyages to far-off locales for years now.

Current president Andy Carroll reflected his thoughts on the organization in a recent sit down. In addition to discussing the club’s history, Carroll divulged information on its preferred activities. Among the most popular, he estimated, are hiking and canoeing.

However, the club also stages kayaking, skiing, caving and whitewater rafting adventures.

To stage these activities, the club visits a variety of places. For hiking, Mt. Monandok and Mt. Sugarloaf work well, while for canoeing, the club traditionally navigates the Connecticut and Deerfield Rivers. For longer journeys, the club has also gone to the Appalachian Mountains.

When not frequenting the treacherous waves of the Connecticut River or braving Appalachia country, members of the club can often be found hanging out at their cabin.

The cabin is a structure built in 1978 specifically to accommodate the club’s needs. Located in Bethlehem, New Hampshire – a site chosen for its proximity to the scenic White Mountains – the cabin houses many of the club’s getaways.

The Outing Club offers a plentitude of opportunities for students craving an escape from the daily monotony of campus living. However, most people don’t seem to be aware of its limitless possibilities.

Of its countless start-of-the-semester attendees, Carroll estimated that less than half attend the group’s weekly functions. Even fewer go on to attend the group’s myriad off-campus excursions.

Bearing this in mind, I tried to devise a list of probable excuses for why this is the case.

Reason number one: I have never done this before

No worries, Carroll proclaims. Athletic prowess isn’t a prerequisite for membership in the Outing Club. The organization is accustomed to beginners, and factors in a few trips geared specifically for those just starting off in the field.

Enthusiasm and courtesy will go far in making sure you have as good a time as the pros you’re traveling with.

Reason number two: I don’t have any money

Well, none of us have any money. That’s kind of the downside to going to college. While the Outing Club does advertise paying membership, payment is not a prerequisite for joining the ranks, either. For the meager sum of $20, students can obtain full-time club status. Those who don’t are still welcomed in attendance for outings, but don’t enjoy quite the same access as those who do.

Reason number three: I don’t have the appropriate equipment

One of the best bragging points attached to the Outing Club is their extensive gear locker. Containing everything from first aid kits to an ice ax, it’s a verifiable candy store of wilderness survival equipment in there. Hours for the gear locker vary from day to day during the week. Taking things out, for any length of time, requires both a deposit and a rental fee, in addition to club membership.

Reason number four: I’m hermitic and don’t care to subject myself to the company of others

Well, the Outing Club has a career track for you, too, fabled campus demographic. All fee paying members are privy to private raids of the gear locker. If you have the will, they offer the way. You can even drive yourself up to the club’s spacious cabin and lock yourself away for days without threat of interruption or distress.

Just make sure to pack along a sleeping bag, in case of any overnight travels. For as Carroll points out, the Outing Club doesn’t typically cover the cost of hotel stays. Whether you’re lodging at the cabin, or backpacking through burly mountain terrain, beds don’t come mandatory.

Part of the wilderness experience, after all, is learning how to rough it.

Although efforts have tapered off some in recent years, The Outing Club has previously lent its name to a number of conservationist efforts. The Club practices a ‘Leave No Trace’ policy on each of its adventures, a policy that encourages members to treat the environment more like home and less like a personal trash can.

The Outing Club recently joined forces with TOMS Shoes for the purpose of social activism. You may have noticed them tabling in the Student Union a couple of weeks back, sandwiched between the musical stylings of “Skullfunked” and Earth Food’s free dessert bar. The club is hoping to recruit students for its April 16 walk across campus.

The catch? They kind of, sort of

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