“It teaches you a lot of lessons, like competence, confidence, and resilience, and it’s this way to develop really unique bonds with other participants.”
—Emily Hodel ’18

Going to college in a major metro area is pretty great. But for the Mac students who are a little more wild at heart, the Twin Cities offer another big advantage: tons of outdoor opportunities.

That’s why Mac students started Outing Club, a student organization that sponsors and supports outdoor trips, and which boasted nearly 700 participants last year. “We cater to many different levels of outdoor experience,” says Emily Hodel ’18, last year’s chair of the club. That can range from experienced backpackers to someone who just wants to go hiking on a weekend.

To that end, the club maintains a giant gear closet in the campus center’s basement. “We have these big racks of basically everything you would need to go on a backpacking or camping trip.” And the best part? “It’s free for any student to check things out.”

Of course, it wouldn’t truly be a club if all they did was rent gear; the club also sponsors outdoor trips throughout the year, open to all Mac students. In the past, that’s included weekend cycling trips along the region’s many bike trails; hiking day trips to some of Minnesota’s 76 state parks and recreation areas; and, given that the state is the “land of 10,000 lakes,” the club has organized canoe and kayak trips as well. Last year, “we did a kayaking trip on the Mississippi [River] through this thing called Paddle Share,” Hodel explains. “We got to go down the Mississippi right through downtown Minneapolis. It was really cool.”

Every year, the club also organizes a handful of multi-day trips that take place over fall and spring breaks—each one entirely designed, planned, and managed by the students. Oftentimes that means driving a van full of students to go backpacking for the better part of a week in national parks like the Badlands, along famous routes like the Appalachian Trail, or to national scenic areas like the Ozark Mountains. This past year, they also partnered with Outward Bound and sponsored a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a pristine million acres of lakes and woods along Minnesota’s northern border. There wasn’t much canoeing, however, since the group went in the dead of winter: “It was like a dogsledding and cross country skiing trip,” says Hodel. “It was a phenomenal time.”

Besides just getting to visit cool places, Hodel says she found a lot of meaning in the club over her years at Mac. “I think it teaches you a lot of lessons, like competence, confidence, and resilience, and it’s this way to develop really unique bonds with other participants,” she says. “One of my favorite things about my involvement in Outing Club is that it’s consistently challenged me more than I thought possible throughout my years at Macalester.”

August 3 2018

Back to top