Devon Rich, a sophomore and math education major, never thought she would find her place at Oswego State with the Outdoor Club, but it has become her niche.
Rich discovered the Outdoor Club at the involvement fair at the beginning of the fall semester in her freshman year.
“I got talking to them for a while,” Rich said. “Hiking is definitely something I love to do. I’m an officer now, I ran for treasurer at the last election.”
The club is established to connect any student at Oswego State who pays his or her SA fee to “all the possibilities that nature has to offer,” Yadong Wang, sophomore and vice president of the organization, said.
The club does, however, have indoor events as well, like rock climbing, or movie nights, where the club watches a film about an outdoor sport, which inspires them to get moving. Wang said there is often crossover from Outdoor Club to Ski Club and they sometimes coordinate events.
Meetings are held in Campus Center room 133 at 7 p.m., where the president informs the group about the next trip. Any officer of the club is allowed to design a trip and make it happen. As long as there are participants, anyone can suggest a new idea and make it happen.
At the beginning, the club sticks to shorter, less strenuous hikes to ease in the new students. Most of the new people are freshmen, according to Rich. The bigger hikes are in the Adirondacks, where the club hikes nearly every weekend.
The snow does not stop the outdoor club from getting outdoors. This weekend the club plans to strap on snowshoes (that the club provides) and hike up the Adirondack trails. The only equipment students need to provide for themselves is a proper hiking backpack that doesn’t weigh down on the shoulders and proper hiking clothes.
“Most of our board members have experience in hiking and climbing, whether they acquired [it] through being a member in the club or prior to joining,” Wang said. “We like our board members to have a decent knowledge of the Adirondack area since that’s where we spend most of our time. We also recommend our board members to be trained in wilderness first aid since they are the people who are responsible for the well being of the club members on club trips.”
At the end of the semester, the largest trip that attracts usually 25 to 30 students is the white water rafting trip, which will take place before finals in May. The club has regular members that participate in all events and some members that choose which events they want to be a part of. Trips are open to all members “who think they are up to the challenge,” Wang said, “[but] we’ll often give priority to the members who are the most active in the club.”
“I guess I consider myself a part of the club,” sophomore Becca Kave said. “I haven’t been to a meeting this year, I just went white water rafting when Don [Yadong] knocked on my door and asked me to go. I don’t really like hiking and most of the trips are hiking. So I’d probably just go white water rafting again this semester.”
Outdoor club doesn’t have regular practices, “just really fun trips in the wilderness,” Wang said. Rich said that being a part of the outdoor club helped make her friend group. She joined the club with one other friend, and soon the two of them each made more friends when they began playing water polo Tuesday nights with the members. Once she made friends from polo, she felt more encouraged to take on larger and more challenging events with her new crew. Currently, there are about 15-25 active members of the club.
“[The outdoor club] definitely made my college experience,” Rich said. “It gets me out of here, away for a little bit. It’s a nice weekend away; I don’t have to go home and I get to spend it doing something I really love,” Rich said.