You walk outside in the crisp autumn air. The leaves paint a picture of abstract colors, making the world vibrant. There’s a chilly breeze as the smell of chimney smoke surrounds you.
You’re breathing in the fresh air of the outdoors. It’s calm. Life is good.
At Castleton University, this scene could be a club meeting.
After a long hiatus from Castleton’s list of active clubs, the Outing Club is making its return to campus.
The club, which used to be a favorite at Castleton, provides opportunities for several different outdoor activities, according to Aleesha Dronia, club president.
“The Outing Club provides the Castleton community with an opportunity to explore the outdoors with peers,” she said. “The experience is supposed to provide people who already love nature to go out with people who share the same interest, as well as provide beginners with the chance to become more comfortable with outdoor activities such as camping.”
Dronia said that the club also participates in outdoor activities such as hikes, campfires, indoor rock climbing, and even kayaking trips. Camping trips have already begun to be planned.
“It’s a great way to explore nature with well-versed Castleton members,” Dronia said.
The Outing Club is already garnering interest. About 20 people have expressed interest by attending meetings or by contacting Dronia. There have also been faculty members interested and offering assistance.
Matt Patry, director of student activities, spoke about how the club used to be a huge hit at Castleton.
“The Outing Club was one of biggest clubs and longest running clubs that Castleton has had,” he said.
It started in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s, and was popular until the late ‘90s.
“They had a long run and were very, very popular,” he added.
Patry said that it even won best club of the year at Castleton numerous times. It ended due to a lack of interest, which is a common ending for many clubs on campus.
“Sometimes what happens is you’ll have a great club, but if the officers who are in charge are not trying to recruit young people, new students, first-years and second-years, all of the sudden you have a vacuum of leadership. We see that with clubs all the time,” Patry said.
The returning club is very similar to the old one, participating in a variety of outdoor activities. Patry thinks it’s a good fit for the college.
“It makes sense. Castleton is located in one of the best sites, in my opinion, in northern New England for an outing club,” he said. “You’ve got a great lake, you’ve got state parks, national forests, you have all this land around us that is just prime for doing outdoor activities.”
Although there are similarities to the old club, Patry said the new club will not be able to do all of the adventures the old club took on due to the standards of today.
He said the old club would take a trip to Maine and get to the L.L. Bean store around 3 a.m., which was open 24-hours at the time. The students would get comfortable in the camping section of the store and sleep over night.
“You couldn’t do that today,” said Patry.
With that being said, students, like Adam Mitchell, are still excited for the club’s return.
“I’ve been outdoors my whole life and this is a chance for me to really expand on that. I’m excited to do it with a bunch of friends at Castleton,” he said.
Mackenzie Kuban, who is also the vice president of the club, is excited for one particular reason.
“Camping! I’ve actually never gone camping before,” she said.
The club is active and has begun spending time in the great outdoors. They meet Thursday at 6 p.m., and the location is to be determined for each meeting.
Dronia is hoping to get the club back to what it was.
“My goal is to lay down the building blocks this year for the club so it can continue to grow in the years to come,” she said.