College outing clubs are often a new and amazing way to experience the outdoors; you are surrounded by other young, adventurous students who all share a love of nature. There are so many new experiences that lend themselves to college outing clubs, such as night hikes, weekend backpacking and skiing trips, group volunteering and trail cleanups and much more. Often times, these activities are much easier to participate in at college because of the like-minded people that surround you and the spontaneous attitudes of many students. The Clarkson University Outing Club (CUOC) is much more than just an average college outing club; it’s a close-knit and extraordinarily accepting community of outdoor enthusiasts.
My first experience with CUOC was the Pre-Orientation trip that I took before moving in as a first-year student. The Pre-O trip is open to all incoming first-years, and it was a wonderful way to make long-term friendships and begin involvement in CUOC while truly being immersed in the outdoors. I am happy to say that I am still close friends with every member of my Pre-O group, as are many other participants. From day one, it was clear to me that CUOC functioned like a large, welcoming family. Each person is treated with respect, and everyone watches out for each other.
The location of Clarkson is perfect for outdoor exploration. With our close proximity to the Adirondack Mountains, there’s tons of outdoor exploration calling our name. From hiking to skiing, caving to canoeing, snowshoeing to climbing and everything in between, the Adirondack area is the perfect playground for the outdoor enthusiast. Year-round activities make it easy to always be involved. Clarkson even has trails of its own that are perfect for mountain biking, cross-country skiing, running or simply strolling in the woods or by the river.
Getting involved with CUOC is very simple: it’s as simple as showing up at the Adirondack Lodge on Wednesday nights. CUOC is always growing and expanding, so it’s super easy to join in at any time — the more the merrier! Every week, new trips that students are planning are announced. Many of these trips are “open,” meaning that other students are free to join in on the adventure if they are interested. Everyone is so inclusive and excited to meet new people, you can easily sign up for a trip without previously knowing anyone else going; in fact, it is encouraged. CUOC is all about exploring new things. This includes making new friends and putting yourself out there to meet more awesome adventurers.
Looking back on my mindset when I first joined CUOC, I was worried that I would not be able to participate in certain things because of my beginner skill level. I had never done an extended backpacking trip before, had never summited a High Peak, had never done outdoor climbing … you get the idea. But CUOC made it so easy to get involved in these new activities through introductory trips that were aimed at teaching new skills and techniques. I can now say that I have done all of those things I previously mentioned, plus so much more.
The outing club doesn’t just go on weekend trips; they host campus-wide and club-wide activities such as Canoe Fest, Winterfest and Formal. This gives a chance for students who are not members of the club to see some of the fun activities that CUOC does, and they can participate themselves and win cool prizes. Events like these encourage students who may not consider themselves to be the “outdoorsy” type to see some of the other fun stuff the club does and consider joining. These events are also good for campus-wide bonding. Everyone is encouraged to come, and it is an awesome and fun way to spend the day hanging out (sometimes literally) with friends, old and new.
Another concern that I had when I first joined CUOC was the expense. Often times, college outing clubs can get pricey, not to mention the cost of gear required to do all of these activities. Much to my surprise, CUOC was extremely affordable, with full access to anything needed for outdoor exploration, including tents, backpacks, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, climbing rope, helmets, shoes … you get the idea. This is especially helpful for beginners, because they may not own all of the gear for an activity that is new to them. The gear sign-out process is very simple: just go during gear hours and pick out what you need. Don’t know what you’ll need? Don’t worry! There’s another student running the gear hours that is knowledgeable about the activities who can help you pick out what’s right for your trip.
You may be wondering what makes Clarkson’s outing club so unique. How is it different from other college outing clubs? For starters, CUOC is very well-respected by both the students and the faculty and administration at Clarkson. Having the support of administration is very important to CUOC, because it allows us to keep doing the activities that we love and helps with funding for gear and events. Administration also allows CUOC to put on campus-wide events that are fun for everyone, not just CUOC members. CUCO is also very well-known to students all across campus; they even have special housing for every year level of student if you choose to live on the designated Outing Club floors. CUOC has members from all walks of life; it is truly an inclusive atmosphere with many members who are always ready to lend a hand in everything, from outdoor activities to school work and anything else you can think of. It’s a family and a support system that all college students deserve to have and experience.
Even if you do not consider yourself to be an “outdoorsy” type of person, I urge you to give CUOC a try. You never know what you may fall in love with. Joining CUOC opens the doors to a whole new community filled with new friends and experiences that you will remember long past graduation. So take a chance — you won’t regret it.