Posted by Danielle Eagan & Elise Taverna
On any given weekend, about 15 Skidmore students leave campus behind to venture into the wild. Sometimes overnight, and other times just for the day, they kayak, canoe, raft, swim, rock-climb, backpack, ice climb, ski and snowshoe. These 15 students represent the biggest club on campus: The Outing Club.
There are about 50 active members of the club, a small number compared to the 700 students who sign up at the club fair each year.
What is the allure that has so many students signing up for the Outing Club? This year's club President Coco Loehr, '12, says that it is the total inclusivity of nature that keeps students signing up.
Loehr has always felt at home in the outdoors. She took a year off before college to backpack both in Patagonia through an outdoor program called NOLS and, afterwards, across the U.S.
Loehr lived in the Outing Club house last year and this year took on the role of president
Outing Club events create bonding opportunities because there are different standards in the outdoors.
The wild has a way of breaking deep-rooted boundaries. Conventional priorities are thrown away by club members at the bottom of the mountain.
The Outing Club welcomes a world of mud-covered legs where caring and helpful people are most appreciated.
Loehr describes the club as a group of great students, a mix of close friends and casual acquaintances. "It's a good way to meet people outside of the typical party scene," Loehr said.
The Outing Club is easy to be a part of. Supplies are available to rent for free and with easy access.
The deterrent for many people, however, is missing happenings on campus. With the Adirondacks, the club's main destination, a full 90 minute drive from campus, taking part in the Outing Club does pull one away from campus life.
Waking up at dawn can also keep some students from weekend events. "It's worth it, though," Loehr said.
Loehr, a passionate geology major, has plenty of new ideas for the coming year. She is working hard to make the club more inclusive for a close, community feel.
Loehr plans to have more trips this year, including some less advanced ones.
"A lot of things last year were advanced, and I want the club to be more beginner-friendly," she said.
As much as Loehr feels at home in the solitude of the outdoors, she loves bringing people into the wild for their first intense nature experience.
Making events available to beginners will give her and the beginners a shared opportunity to learn together.
Loehr also plans to create an Outing Club Facebook group, which will make it easier for all students to be involved.
"With a Facebook page, events won't have to be planned months in advance," Loehr said.
"Someone can post on the Facebook page, ‘Hey, anyone up for a hike today?'"
Another new plan is a climbing wall on campus, possibly in the new Scribner complex.
Loehr's personal favorite Outing Club activity is climbing. "The total trust one must have in the person belaying them creates a close community environment."
One of Loehr's most memorable Outing Club adventures was a four-day winter trip involving 10 students that took place last year.
They backpacked in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, lodging in mountain huts along the way. "I'm probably biased because I led it, but it was a great time," she said.
Though most outing club trips are memorable for the adventures and group bonding, there have been some dangerous situations in the past. Last year, a canoeing mishap led to a canoe becoming stuck under a tree.
This incident should not stop anyone from joining the Outing Club, however, as someone trained in first-aid is always on hand.
For more information on club events, contact Coco Loehr at email@example.com