Hiking, Eskimo Rolls, Maple Syrup: the Colby Outing Club
"Everyone at Colby loves going on COOT2 [Colby Outdoor Orientation Trips]," Colby Outing Club (COC) co-president Anders Nordblom '10 says, because it gives students the opportunity to bond with their classmates in a fun outdoor setting. "Being a part of the Outing Club is like going on COOT2 every weekend," he says.
While the purpose of the COC is "to provide a safe and supportive environment for Colby students to experience the outdoors," Nordblom says, it is perhaps above all "a great way to meet new people. I think about half of the people I know on campus I've met on Outing Club trips."
Co-president Elizabeth Powell '10 shares this sentiment. She joined the club because she enjoyed being outside and staying active, but also because it "was a really friendly group of people that loved doing the same things I did, so it seemed like a great club to get involved in as a freshman," she says.
Nordblom stresses the fact that the club is "very accepting of students of all interests and ability levels," and Powell explains that the COC "aim[s] to give people with experience and certain skill sets a way to share this knowledge with people who are less experienced but looking to learn," Powell says.
In recent years, the COC has been working hard to project this all-inclusive message to the general student population and "become a more personable club," Nordblom says. He is excited about the positive response, as an unprecedented number of first-years have joined the club this year.
The COC gives students the opportunity to explore the beautiful Maine wilderness, as many students come from out-of-state and are not necessarily familiar with the area. While the club often schedules trips to Acadia National Park and Mt. Katahdin-"places people always say they want to go," according to Nordblom-it also gives students the chance to explore lesser-known but equally beautiful parts of the state.
Through the COC, students can explore Maine a little closer to home. The club holds weekly trail runs by the Messalonskee Stream adjacent to campus and clinics that teach students how to roll a kayak in the Alfond Athletic Center pool. The COC even offered an on-campus star-gazing trip on Runnals Hill this past winter during a meteor shower.
On some of this year's most popular trips, seven groups of 10 people hiked Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park, one group went backpacking in Canyonlands, Utah and another group rock-climbed in Joshua Tree National Park in California over spring break.
In the future, the COC hopes to offer major, highly-publicized trips like these every month, as well as to expand the range of trips it offers to include such activities as canoeing and fly fishing.
In a recent endeavor, the club acquired the means to tap trees for syrup and has produced about 10 gallons of maple syrup this year. "I don't know of any other college that can claim that their students make their own maple syrup," Nordblom says.
The COC has big plans for the coming years. This year's leaders have worked to create an on-line database for gear check-outs and to better facilitate communication regarding trips so that planning "will become easier in the future," Nordblom says. The club has also revised the training process for trip leaders "so that the standards are a little bit higher and consistent across the board," Powell says. This will ensure that students have the best possible experience on trips.
While the COC is excited about these new changes, its beloved traditions will continue to thrive. One of these is the club's "naked in nature" custom, which involves "getting naked in a sweet outdoors location, particularly with good views or lots of people watching," one trip leader, Peter Allfather '11, says.