The Undergraduate Dean of the Carroll School of Management, Ethan Sullivan, has mentioned that many before him have tried unsuccessfully to start this club. That’s right: Dean Sullivan is one of the original Outdoor Club of Boston College (OCBC) members. But in 2011, the underground group of renegade outdoor enthusiasts changed the perception of Boston College’s Risk Management and the Student Programming Office with their fifteen years of persistence.
OCBC is an organization made up of E-board members and trip leaders who are and have always been in service of others. “We could have always made this an exclusive club and only run trips for students with lots of prior experience, but that’s not the type of community we want to have nor the legacy we’d like to leave,” said one of the OCBC founders, Keegan Dougherty (A&S 2013). She continued, explaining how “from the outset [she] wanted to give student leaders an outlet for their enthusiasm and expertise in the outdoors.” However, OCBC knows that sharing the outdoors— especially with individuals who are unfamiliar with its experiences— is far more rewarding than any technical climb or winter backpacking trip; in this way, they are drawing inspiration for their vision from other University-based outdoor clubs, such as those at Dartmouth and MIT.
While the hard work of getting the administration on their side is over, OCBC’s new goal is to establish an outdoors culture on campus that is centered around students sharing the outdoors regardless of experience or ability. Though the development of such a culture will inevitably foster a sub-culture of students who pursue more intense outdoor endeavors, they want to keep the club focused on harnessing the energy of student leaders to best serve the average student.
Another one of the club’s founders, Benjamin Key (A&S 2011) explained in an interview, “One of the major obstacles [the group] faced, which is not exclusive to our genesis, was that the Student Programming Office (SPO) does not have a protocol for our type of organization. They are very strong in providing a backbone to student groups that are centered around a cultural/ethnic identity, religion, or a skill set such as sports, art forms, debate, etc. While organizations founded around common hobbies and interests, like rock climbing, skateboarding, or exploring the outdoors, simply do not have a place in SPO’s generally accepted criteria for a club.”
However, these sorts of activities are some of the most unifying shared interests among students. OCBC became the largest student-run organization on campus last year. Benjamin Key recognized this same issue with SPO perspective on student groups. He understood that “there was a bureaucratic issue. No one in SPO knew how the club would fit into the spectrum of BC student organizations. Another more obvious issue with OCBC is that some of the activities we do are dangerous, raising the question of liability and insurance issues.” SPO recently displayed a slight adaptation of its policies with the registration of OCBC as well as other clubs like Electronic State of Mind, which focuses on providing to student DJs.
However, the questions surrounding the liability still remained. The solution came when they began working more closely with Outdoor Adventures (OA) at the Plex last year. The merger of programming has not only allowed both groups to dilute any competition for sign ups, but also helped establish a new Wilderness First Aid and Leadership training program taught by Elisha Crispell, who is the head of OA. The goal of this training program is to develop student Outdoor Adventure Leaders (OALs) in-house to a level where their expertise is greater than what we can find and pay for outside of the Boston College community— thereby (hopefully) minimizing the amount of risk associated with student-organized trips. Next semester, this program will be opened up to all of OCBC’s registered trip leaders.
Looking forward to this spring, OCBC has numerous excursions planned for the remainder of the semester. The Outdoor Club has a ski trip this Saturday at 6am to Sunday River, which will get a foot of snow this Friday. In addition, OA and OCBC teamed up to bring TGR to Boston College and have planned for a screening of The Dream Factory at 7pm in The Robsham Theatre. Other trips include snowshoeing to Mt. Moosilauke on February 23rd; outdoor rock climbing at Hammond Pond on March 27th, April 10th, and April 24th; whale-watching in March, and whitewater-rafting in April. This list only skims the surface of the programming and events OCBC will be offering this year, so it is best to simply follow the club on Facebook where interested students can also join their listserv, which is the most reliable source of programming information.