So, what would you think of a student-run organization with its own 5,300-square-foot campus headquarters that allowed you to sign out — for free — any type of outdoor gear for a personal adventure, had a full-time professional staff to show you how to use the gear, that offered instructional classes and professional certification in whitewater paddling and Telemark skiing, and that trained you to an insane level of competency to lead group expeditions, handle outdoor medical emergencies, and even teach those skills to your peers? Pretty cool? Welcome to the Bowdoin Outing Club.
The BOC isn't just for extremists, it's for all levels of comfort, experience, and ambition. Want to enjoy the beauty of Maine but not interested in risking limb to do it? Winter trips head to the club's cabin in the wooded hills of Monson, Maine, located at the start of the Appalachian Trail's 100-Mile Wilderness, to sled and drink cocoa by the stove; bird-watching trips visit the club's island on the New Meadows River close to campus (yes, the club has its own island!), and on campus, BOC members are known to bake cookies in the Outdoor Leadership Center kitchen, then e-mail students studying in the library to come over for a study break. The BOC's new digs in the Schwartz Outdoor Leadership Center "are a focal point for the BOC on campus and "provide a real sense of community" says BOC Director Mike Woodruff '87.
Future trip leaders sign on for 300 hours of lecture, demonstration, and field work that includes eight full days of wilderness medical training; classroom, practical and field experience; map and compass proficiency; trip planning and logistics; gear use, maintenance and repair; cooking; natural history; and low-impact camping techniques. By the time they're through, students in the Leadership Training program have acquired the leadership styles, knowledge of group dynamics, and teaching and learning styles required to lead people safely in the field. The program culminates in a five- to seven-day wilderness expedition, during which each LTrainee serves as group leader. Only after successful completion of LT can a student lead a trip for the BOC. Needless to say, students on BOC trips, regardless of the level, know they're in capable hands.