Why Do Students Join the Outing Club?

Photo Courtesy of Bowdoin Archives.

Since its beginning, the Bowdoin Outing Club has provided a network for outdoors-loving students to explore the woods and coast of Maine, learn leadership and teamwork skills, and enjoy the company of like-minded students, fed up with the weekend campus scene. Many students came to Bowdoin at least in part because of its location. The state of Maine has many unique natural places and Outing Club activities have been an opportunity for many a Bowdoin student to witness the beauty of these places. When asked why they joined the Bowdoin Outing Club:

"I joined BOC to strengthen leadership skills, learn and participate in new activities, and take advantage of the trip possibilities that New England has to offer."
- Robert Raney

"To take advantage of the outdoor opportunities offered in the state of Maine - of such a variety that were never available to me prior to Bowdoin."
- Jeff Christie

Skilled BOC canoers shoot some class 3 whitewater. circa 1980.
Image courtesy of Bowdoin Archives.

"I love the Maine woods and getting out in the wild. Wanted to spend time with people who had similar interests."
- Theresa Nester

For some, the motives were less about exploring Maine and the outdoors, and more about simply establishing social connections, or participating in and helping direct a fast-growing club. However, the love for the outdoors was still present in most all members:

"I wanted to be a part of a group of individuals who had similar interests, and shape the type of activities we were able to participate in."
- Ralph Rynning

"Participation in a pre-orientation bike trip, as well as the large amount of student participation in the BOC (it was the largest student organization on campus)."
- Anonymous

"Much of the same reason that I went to Bowdoin - to be outside with similar minded people, adventure, learning new skills."
- Dave Meyer

Still others came to Bowdoin especially because of its location and surroundings, in the hopes of being part of a student body that cared about the environment and being outdoors. Others came because of the Outing Club itself. Once they got to Bowdoin and recognized the opportunities the Club presented, joining was only the natural thing to do:

Group photo before hitting the water.
Image Courtesy of Bowdoin Archives.

"I wanted to go to Bowdoin because of its Outing Club. Once I got there, I didn't participate as much as I could have, which I regret. At that time, Bowdoin was very insular and the things that were stressed were sports, drinking and your grades. A lot of people (including me at times) were afraid to go away for a whole weekend because they had "too much work to do" or were afraid of missing something on campus."
- Anonymous

"Outdoors was one of my reasons for attending Bowdoin. BOC allowed me to continue enjoying the outdoors and meet like-minded students - most important, it was to get out there."
- Eric Loeb

"I used to go camping a lot as a Boy Scout, and I thought I would keep that up once I got to college, but track took up all my weekends."
- Jim Sabo

Some people found the intense academic expectations and relatively isolated campus stifling. Without cars, and in need of some other pursuit to balance regular Bowdoin life, they decided to take advantage of the Outing Club:

"Loved the outdoors and wanted to learn new skills and get off campus occasionally."
- Anonymous

Image Courtesy of Bowdoin Archives.

"I loved the outdoors, wanted to make friends, didn't know much about Maine, and didn't have a car."
- Eric Lupfer

"Love of the outdoors, a balance to intense studying."
- Pat Coughlin

Whether one joined the Outing Club after coming to Bowdoin or came to Bowdoin specifically for its Outing Club, on a beautiful spring day in Southern Maine, counting the remaining weeks of class on one hand, there is one thing we can all agree on:

"I like the outdoors more than classrooms."
- Ned May