With the weather getting increasingly warm outside, it’s sometimes nice to picture Temple’s concrete campus with a few more blossoming trees or more grassy areas than Beury Beach.
Sometimes, when running on the last available treadmill in the IBC Student Recreation Center, looking out to even more cement, it’s fun to imagine yourself jogging through a nature trail, breathing in the cool, fresh air rather than everyone’s sweat.
But now there’s a solution for all those nature-deprived students who seek adventure and crave all the things the wonderful outdoors has to offer.
Thanks to Sierra Gladfelter, a freshman visual anthropology major, Temple’s Outdoor Club got a serious makeover and is now ready to explore the greater Philadelphia area.
Before coming to Temple, Gladfelter thought she would just have to join the Outdoor Club, not re-create it.
“When I came for orientation, I was told by one of the interns for Student Activities that the Outdoor Club was ‘insanely active,’” Gladfelter said. “He said he remembered seeing people walking down the streets with kayaks, so I was excited, but unfortunately, [the club] was in rubble.”
Not having an Outdoor Club was not an option.
“I’m from a rural area. I personally feel the need to get outdoors in order for me to feel fulfilled in life,” Gladfelter said. “And so, since I go to school on an urban campus, I wanted to find outlets to get out into the wilderness and nature. I also wanted to find a group of people with similar interests and liked to do outdoor things.”
But the process of creating a club on campus is more arduous than people may expect.
To be an official student group, Gladfelter had to re-write the eight-page constitution, register as an organization through Student Activities and obtain names and e-mails of people who would commit their time to be members and officers.
Once the hefty to-do list was completed, the club had to exist for a full semester before the university’s administration provided any funding.
The trips the Outdoor Club have sponsored were definitely worth the effort. The club’s first excursion was a day hike and picnic in Wissahickon, Pa., and although only six people attended, Gladfelter said “there was snow on the ground, and it was gorgeous.”
Since then, there has been a night hike in Wissahickon, Ultimate Frisbee and sledding in Fairmount Park, a backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail in Gettysburg, Pa., and a recent camping and hiking trip to the Pinnacle, which has the highest elevation in Berks County.
Malisa Kheuangthirath, a sophomore kinesiology major, said the trip to the pinnacle was “epic.”
“I think the whole hiking thing in general – the landscape, looking out at the pinnacle and getting to know everyone – was a great experience,” Kheuangthirath said.
“I just think it’s cool when you camp out together, eat meals together, wake up together and accomplish something by climbing a mountain—it pulls people together,” Gladfelter said. “It’s different than just being in class together.”
However, if hiking and camping isn’t your thing, there’s no need to worry.
The Outdoor Club incorporates everything from intense backpacking and biking trips to throwing Frisbees around. The main point, of course, is to get outside.
“We need to appreciate nature because there is not a lot of nature in the city,” Kheuangthirath said. “It’s nice to see scenery that’s different than just tall buildings.”
“Well, since Temple is in the middle of the city, there needs to be something for those that need nature and that connection to nature,” said Maggie Nice, a freshman voice performance major. “There isn’t really that much of that connection in Philly.”
Even though finding that “connection to nature” is a vital aspect of the Outdoor Club, making connections with the people in it is just as important.
“[The club] gives people a chance to go out and do things and meet people who are interested in the same thing,” sophomore finance major Chris Alcaro said.
The club caters to individuals’ interests and is open to suggestions about future plans.
Just some of the ideas swirling around are trips to Hawk Mountain, the Pequea caves in Lancaster, Pa., Ricketts Glen, Valley Forge, Pa., and a Native American sweat lodge. Snowboarding, skiing, ice skating, white water rafting, rock climbing and building a sustainable garden are also on the upcoming itinerary.
“A lot of clubs are based around one specific interest, but people in the Outdoor Club have a lot of different interests,” Gladfelter said. “It attracts dynamic people who are into getting out and trying new things, and it’s refreshing to be around people who want to do that.”
Laura Fanciullacci can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.