Sophomore Emma McCormick is thrilled about the number of students — 216 — who showed interest in a new Outdoor Adventures Club on campus this year.
“I’m so excited that this is happening and that people are also excited about it,” she said.
McCormick was disappointed to find no outdoors clubs upon coming to Hillsdale, so this year she started her own club which is open to anyone and does not require fees or official membership.
McCormick plans to host a few events throughout the year, some of which will be over breaks so that students can travel to more distant locations. Backpacking, camping, skiing, climbing, caving, kayaking, and mountain biking are among McCormick’s many aspirations for the club.
“Whatever people are interested in, I want to see it happen,” she said.
The club hosted its first event Sept. 10 at Lost Nations Trail, a 15-minute drive from campus. Despite the misty, gray weather, 37 people attended the event, including two prospective students and the club’s advisor, Associate Professor of Economics Charles Steele.
“Being outside really recharges people,” Steele said. “I think being outdoors and doing these kinds of activities is really important for the way people develop, and it’s just good to be outside.”
Steele, an active outdoorsman, is very excited about the new club and said he will try to attend as many events as he can. During his time at Montana State University, he would sometimes take a 30-minute hike around 10 or 11 p.m. just to get outside and let the fresh air rejuvenate him after many hours of studying.
The Lost Nations Trail hike was about 6 miles long, and on the way some of the students found a cave that supposedly used to be a hideout of one of Jesse James’ gang members. Several of the students were able to climb inside the cave at one time.
Future events will include camping at Sleeping Bear Dunes over fall break, and at some point the club might get to hike the Appalachian Trail.
Sophomore Lydia Hall also attended the hike at Lost Nations Trail. An Oregon native, she said she misses the mountains and the many hiking opportunities provided there.
“When I came to Hillsdale in the first place and I was looking at the clubs, I was really upset that there wasn’t an outdoor club … especially coming from the Pacific Northwest in Oregon [where] … nature is everywhere,” she said.
As the club’s treasurer, Hall will use anticipated club donations in order to purchase camping equipment, help students with travel expenses, and buy t‑shirts.
Part of what inspired McCormick to start the club was her many outdoor adventures in her home state of Idaho, as well as her hiking trips abroad in places like Ireland and the near the Mediterranean Sea. What sealed the decision for her was seeing a film from an international film competition in Banff, Canada.
The Banff Mountain Film Festival films include incredible mountain culture stunts, including skiing, biking, climbing, and hiking long distances. This past spring, McCormick saw one of the Banff films in Ann Arbor with friends and she wants Outdoor Adventures members to participate as well, whether that means going to see the film or even hosting it at some point in Hillsdale.
“After seeing the film I really wanted to start a club,” McCormick said. “It’s always super inspiring and makes you want to go outside.”
McCormick said she found photos of a Hillsdale outdoors club in yearbooks from 1997 and 1999, but she does not know if any other outdoor clubs have existed since.
Even if students don’t consider themselves to be extremely outdoorsy but are interested in the club, she encourages them to get involved.