CMC Launches Outdoor Initiative

Claremont McKenna College students now have the opportunity to go on outdoor trips through the Outdoor Initiative (OI), a new program that was recently funded by the Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College (ASCMC). 

The OI program encourages students to explore the outdoors in Southern California, according to ASCMC Campus Organizations Chair Will Su CM ’16.

"For example, this month we're going to have a surf trip where people can learn how to surf, so it’s giving people outdoors expertise in areas that may never have thought about," he said.

ASCMC launched the OI program after a survey meant to gauge student interest in an outdoors group received a positive response.  

"That really gave us some indication that maybe there should be an organic program at CMC that really focuses on getting students outdoors," Su said. “Our admission office really emphasizes, you know, we are in Southern California, the beaches are to our west, the mountains to the north, everything else around us; we really need to take advantage of that.”

Su said that the program targets CMC students. 

"What we found was that a lot of CMC students weren’t participating in the [Pomona College On the Loose] trips," Su said. "There are barriers to entry, and the trips weren’t being advertised as much. So creating an organic CMC outdoors program was really the first step of getting CMCers outdoors."

ASCMC provides the OI program with $1,500 per year, Su said, adding that as Campus Organizations Chair, he is tasked with "incubating the program until the OI leaders are familiar with ASCMC financial protocol and will take the program over." 

There are approximately a dozen program leaders, and the program expects to send more than 100 students on trips by the end of the month, Su said. November OI trips so far have included camping trips to Deep Creek Hot Springs and Joshua Tree National Park.  

“CMC students should really be excited about the opportunity to get off campus," said Christine Wilkes CM ’16, who led the Joshua Tree trip Nov. 8-9.

Since signups for each trip are done through Google Drive, students who sign up cannot see who else has expressed interested in attending the trip, which Wilkes said she thinks is a plus. 

"Because you can’t sign up with a whole group of friends, you know everybody is doing it with random people, and then you meet new people, which is valuable,” she said.

Trip leaders, who are not paid, are responsible for arranging transportation, making campground reservations, and packing food materials. 

“I really like going outdoors and being in the wilderness, and I also like sharing them with other people,” Wilkes said. 

Additional trips planned for this month include a hike at Big Bear, a sunrise hike on the Etiwanda Falls trail, and surf lessons in Santa Monica.