What did you do last weekend? Ask that question at Grove City and you may get any number of answers, from “Homework, all the homework” to “Research paper, Greek formal, church and a game night.” But, one of the longest running traditions for weekend fun on campus is actually off campus. Say what?
Introducing the Grove City Outing Club, or OC. For these brave folks, the perfect way to recover from the rigor of academics is walking around in the woods carrying everything they need on their backs. Every semester, they schedule several weekend and break trips to different parts of the country to go backpacking. Recent destinations have included the Adirondack Mountains, Kentucky’s Red River Gorge and West Virginia’s Dolly Sods Wilderness. For Outing Club members, a weekend out in nature is the perfect way to recharge from classes.
They must be doing something right, as the OC has been part of the Grove City experience since the Great Depression. It was founded by Esther Post (Dean of Women) and college chaplain Doc Kase as a way to allow students to enjoy the outdoors and get off campus back when very few students owned cars. Ironically, when you consider its staying power over the past 80 years, the college President, Weir Ketler, was not enthusiastic about the club, but Dr. Kase was able to convince the trustees to finance the purchase of a parcel of land and construct a cabin, which is still cared for by OC alumni today. OC is considered one of the closest knit clubs on campus, for as senior Joscelyn Seaton put it: “When you have hiked alongside each other for three days without showering, you learn that your friends like you for who are and not for how you look.” This close knit community lasts beyond college, with many alumni returning for two annual events: the Fall Pig Roast and Spring Beast Feast, and the club produces a newsletter each semester with articles by active members about events.
And the events are legion and legendary. When Joscelyn was asked to provide a list of events the Outing Club takes part in, she recounted the following events that take place each year:
- Weekly meetings
- Six backpacking trips
- Eight local hikes
- Four holiday meals
- Two trail running events
- Two canoe trips
- Two or more rock climbing trips (depending on year to year interest)
They also compete in the IM volleyball league, hold a club football game each semester, decorate a Christmas tree, go swimming in January and take trips to local square dances as a club.
It’s this eventful schedule that makes the club both a major commitment, but also, as members stress, extremely rewarding. Junior Natalie Jordan appreciates the ease of conversation among fellow club members, while they also respect quiet contemplation. She adds that, “I think nature’s time schedule is refreshing to the spirit because it allocates its resources perfectly, while at school, we often don’t do that.”
The club allows students with no prior experience in backpacking to explore the hobby. Joscelyn recalls, “Coming to Grove City, I had always wanted to be more outdoorsy, but I never had the resources, the gear or the opportunities to do so. My brothers had always gone backpacking with their Boy Scout troops, yet I had never gone. Upon discovering the Outing Club, I was overjoyed. I finally had a group of people who loved to be outside and who were willing to teach me outdoor skills. During my freshman and sophomore years, the upperclassmen taught me how to backpack, canoe, hike, navigate with a map and plan trips. Through the Outing Club, I have gained so many more skills…
“In sum, your GCC experience will be so much richer through your involvement with the Outing Club.”