Outing Club Returns with Safe and Accessible Trips

Allegheny’s Outing Club, which gives students the opportunity to go on a variety of safe, educational, and challenging adventures and trips, has been dormant until recently. On Saturday, Oct. 17, the club held their first event and began to plan opportunities for students to take part in a variety of activities.

“We are really trying to do more,” said Jeremiah Sullivan, ’21, president of the Outing Club. 

For trips this semester, the Outing Club is staying on-campus or going slightly off-campus, Sullivan explained.

 “In past semesters the club had access to a large budget, but with the delay in club budgets being administered, all expenses have to come out of the leader’s pockets.” Sullivan said. 

Leaders are members of the Outing Club who take the responsibility of leading two trips per semester and go through an application process to become leaders. With the delay in the administration of budgets, the club has had to rely on their existing resources, and resources of their leaders, to go on trips. 

Along with budgetary limitations, the COVID-19 pandemic has played a major role in how the Outing Club is operating this semester.

Luis Mendoza, ’20, who is an Outing Club leader, explained the challenges of the semester.

“At first we had an initial shock, of like, obviously (COVID-19) is going to (play a role in) the semester, so how do we look different and how do we adapt to what’s going on,” Mendoza said. “At first we didn’t touch it because we just thought, oh, we aren’t going to be able to get out, let’s put the club on hold for a little bit,but then we started to think about what is possible to do on campus.”

Will Harrod, ’21, who has been a leader since the fall semester of his sophomore year, said that his year has been really hard. The Outing Club used to lead trips far off-campus. 

“Some trips were just a little day hike out to Bousson, or Erie National Wildlife Refuge, and other times it was a two-day backpacking (and) canoeing trip, or whitewater rafting trip,” Harrod said. 

This semester has been different for leaders. 

 “In the past we would have trips with 20 people going to one spot to do one big thing.”Harrod said.

In the new world of COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions, the Outing Club has not been able to do anything like what they used to, but this does not mean no trips can happen, Harrod explained. 

“We are trying to limit the trips we do by car this semester, so we are trying to stick to things we can do on campus, or in the area we can walk to around campus.” Harrod said.  “(This) has been different, considering in the past we had led a lot of the same trips year after year, especially the popular ones, and now we can’t lead any of those.”

According to Harrod, there have been many brainstorming sessions recently and the club has found a way to do trips that follow social distancing guidelines. Despite the challenges, safe and accessible trips have begun to happen again. 

The Outing Club hosted their first event this past Saturday Oct. 17, which was an outdoor lawn game event. Emily Kauchak, ’21, vice president of the club, helped to lead the first event.

“The Club has, sort of, just gotten our feet under us right now,” Kauchak said. “We have only had one event so far … we just played lawn games and we had people outside at Robertson (Athletic Complex).”

The event was an opportunity for students to enjoy being outdoors and socialize. 

“It was a huge success, we had students raking leaves, playing games, and just hanging out,” Kauchak said. 

Along with the return on safe trips, the Outing Club is still renting gear such as tents for camping. This enables students to organize their own outdoor activities, but the Outing Club emphasizes using their gear responsibly, which includes being safe and following guidelines whenever leaving campus. 

Kauchak mentioned that the Outing Club is always looking for new faces to go on trips, especially those new to the Allegheny community. Interested students should email [email protected] to be on the email list and look at their Instagram account or website. The club is available to any interested member of Allegheny College. 

Coming up this weekend is a bike ride, led by Harrod and another leader, Ian Manning, ’20, and pumpkin smash and lashing workshop event led by Sullivan, Mendoza and the club’s gear manager, Ray Marszalek, ’21. Further into the future, the club is planning a Halloween-themed, on-campus scavenger hunt for the last weekend in October.

“It is totally possible to get up, get out, and have a ton of fun just outside of your door,” Kauchak said.