The Great Outdoors: Club Size

By mid-semester, the classroom starts to close in like a vice, and the dorm room seems to lose square footage by the hour. Although campus is an oasis of trees, wildlife and ponds, academia has a way of cutting off the fresh air from one’s lungs.

But there is an antidote to classroom claustrophobia, according to Jeremey Gudgeon, the graduate adviser for the Eastern Outdoors Club, and it’s simply a matter of signing up for the next adventure.

“The main reason we really started this [club] was to give people the experience of being in the outdoors more,” Gudgeon said. “I’m a huge fan of experiencing as much as you can throughout life.”

Gudgeon helped jumpstart the faltering club in 2000. Through his efforts, membership grew, and at one point, the club received the second largest budget of any on campus.

But since his graduation in 2003, the club has coasted, Gudgeon said. He wants to revamp the whole thing, continuing to add to the existing membership and create exciting excursions.

“A lot of people come to this school as first-years and may not have ever been camping in their entire life,” Gudgeon said, “and it’s a great experience to pass that on.”

Unlike many SGA-sponsored clubs, the Outdoors Club is completely “open,” meaning all one has to do to participate is show up for the specific trip meeting. Gudgeon sees this non-exclusivity as a major asset for busy college students who might not want to make a semester-long commitment.

The Outdoors Club has big plans this semester, including a whitewater rafting excursion to New River Gorge in West Virginia and a skydiving trip in northern Pennsylvania.

It’s hard to imagine getting further away from mid-terms than a freefall from 14,000 feet.

“The main reason I joined was because skydiving was offered,” said Jan Ott, a senior who joined the Outdoors Club four years ago as a first-year student. “I think getting away from campus every now and again is a good thing. It lets you experience God in nature.”

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