Student Organization of the Week: Outings Club

Kate Melanson, Staff Writer

While many students spent fall break relaxing at home or catching up on work in their dorm rooms, four groups of Obies joined the Oberlin College Outings Club on its annual fall break trips to get some fresh air.

Interested students entered their preferences into a lottery system to receive a spot on one of the trips. Of the four options, students could choose to hike on the Northville-Placid trail in the Adirondacks, through portions of the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park, along Michigan’s Upper Peninsula northern shoreline, or they could paddle down the Green River in Kentucky. Most of the options were open to outdoor lovers of all levels and skill sets.

College sophomore Sarah Francis, who led the trip in Shenandoah National Park along with College junior Jonah Joffe, said of the students that came on the trip with her, “None of them had been backpacking for an extended period of time before, but they all had hiking experience or outdoor camping experience.”

Each location guaranteed spectacular views, ranging from the remote and wild areas in the Adirondacks to the vast cliffs and dunes along Lake Superior to the waterfalls along the Green River. Some of the locations brought students to heights with extreme elevation changes. The group in Shenandoah National Park hiked two mountains; one of them, Hawksbill Mountain, is the highest point at the park, measuring some 4,050 feet.

On most of the trips, students were given opportunities to explore outside of the daily move from location to location, but even all of the scheduled portions did not always go according to plan.

“We originally planned on staying at this campground that was really small but it didn’t take reservations, so we got there and all the campgrounds were full,” said Francis. After talking to a park ranger the group had to go to a close but “sketchy” campground for the night. “It ended up being fine. We drove back into the park the next day and hiked the AT.”

As most of the groups were small, there was less room for things to go wrong. Last minute dropouts on trips made groups even smaller.

“I wish more people had gone on the trip,” said Francis, “but it was nice having a small group. It made cooking easier and we could all fit in one car, which was nice.”

Despite the small numbers, the trips provided students who didn’t know each other the opportunity to meet new people. They also allowed students to get involved in taking leadership roles outside of the classroom and investing themselves in interests they don’t normally get to pursue.

“I really like planning and organizing things,” said Francis. “It’s also a really fun way to get to know people and find people with similar interests, and it’s a great way to get your mind off of homework for a week.”