By Carla Charter
HANOVER, N.H.- The Dartmouth Outing Club at Dartmouth College formed in 1909 making it the first collegiate outdoor club in the United States. The student run organization has a little over 2,000 collegiate members and lifetime members all over the world. We try very hard to introduce all interested students to the outdoors regardless of their experience and background. We have students from all over the world. We have students who have never done outdoor activities. Many of them they discover they really enjoy being outdoors and continue to do trips throughout their Dartmouth experience. according to Tim Burdick, Director of Dartmouth Outdoor Programs, 1989 graduate of Dartmouth College and Active Lifetime Member of the Dartmouth Outing Club.
The Outing Club forms an umbrella organization for a number of clubs each focusing on a different type of outdoor activity. These clubs include The Ledyard Canoe and Kayak Club, named for John Ledyard in the 1700’s left Dartmouth after cutting down a tree on campus and turning it into a canoe. Ledyard then paddled his canoe down the Connecticut River to the Atlantic Ocean and from there became a world-wide explorer.
The Dartmouth Cabin and Trail Club maintains 50 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Dartmouth is one of only two colleges, the other being Virginia Tech, which are responsible for Appalachian Trail maintenance. This maintenance includes trail clearing, building new foot bridges and occasionally building new sections of trail. These clubs also work on projects with other community groups including Sustainable Dartmouth.
The newest club under the outing club umbrella is the surfing club, who, during the summer, take surfing trips to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. They also take a trip each winter to California.
During the school term, Burdick said, the outdoor program through its various clubs have about 30 trips a week. Past trips have included ice climbing in the White Mountains and a hiking trip in the Green Mountains. During school breaks students are offered trips all over the world. Recent school break trips have included a climbing trip in Thailand, a hiking trip in Ecuador and a mountain biking trip in Arizona.
“The activities are important as they allow students to get some exercise outside, away from studying and also helps teach leadership skills. It is an opportunity for students to form lifelong friendships and they get to develop an appreciation for nature,” Burdick continued.
More information about the Dartmouth Outing Club can be found at https://outdoors.dartmouth.edu/doc/