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The Daily Illini

RSO provides students with outdoor experience

By Megan Bradley, Staff writer

Students who run across the Main Quad from class to class with their backpacks may not be thinking about backpacking in the forest for camping; however, there is one RSO on campus that can provide a camping experience to anyone looking for it.

The Camping Club is in its second year at the University, but will be taking its first trip in October. Started by a group of now sophomores, the Camping Club began with the goal of giving students a way to explore the outdoors in spots that are farther from campus that students might not be going to on their own.

Sebastian Sulewski, sophomore in Business, is the president of the club.

Sulewski said he and his friends were inspired by wanting to provide an escape from the University for a few days to do outdoor activities. He said he drew some inspiration from a high school environmental science teacher who told him the best way he knew to conserve nature was to show others that it is important.

“I think the club can do that for people in the future, to show that nature can be a really fun and interesting thing,” Sulewski said.

In its first year, the Camping Club did not go on any trips. The board members spent the year figuring out the logistical details of how to start a new RSO on campus, getting the proper equipment, transporting students to sites that are a few hours away and keeping participants at the campsites for a few nights.

Sulewski said Camping Club will provide transportation, tents and even food for a minimal charge so members can enjoy the camping experience. Because the club provides all the camping necessities, Sulewski and the rest of the members put in a lot of work and planning to guarantee the best camping experience.

Camping Club will be taking its first trip during the first weekend of October to Shawnee National Forest, a campsite that is about three hours from campus.

Alex Bryk, sophomore in Education, is a vice president of Camping Club, along with Craig Soares, sophomore in Engineering. Bryk, Soares and Sulewski all took a preliminary trip to Shawnee in order to make sure it was a suitable destination for the first camping trip.

“Shawnee’s a really nice place; they have lots of really scenic trails there,” Bryk said. “They have a Garden of the Gods, which is a pretty big natural landmark.”

The camping trips are available for anyone, regardless of experience. Sulewski said he had never even gone camping before becoming president of the Camping Club. They received over 200 signatures from potential campers on Quad Day.

“There’s a big range of people, like some people that have never gone before and other people that are the highest rank of Boy Scout,” Sulewski said.

Shawnee is located in Harrisburg, Illinois, and offers activities such as rock climbing, horse riding, water activities and fishing. Members of the Camping Club can take advantage of any activities they want during their time at Shawnee.

Sulewski said he envisions the club going on trips and participating as a whole in rock climbing or other special activities the campsite offers. But for now, campers are more than welcome to do those things on their own.

“We want to do a trip every semester, and more frequently later on, but right now we’ll have one per semester,” Soares said. “I don’t know if they’re always going to be as big as Shawnee, but we thought Shawnee would be a good place to start out.”

Camping Club does not hold weekly meetings, only informational ones right before a trip so members who are signed up can learn details about it. Soares said students who are interested can get involved at any time and are able to join any trip they would like to.

As the years go on, Sulewksi, Bryk and Soares envision the club doing bigger trips, but those would require extensive planning and there are none currently on the schedule.

“Down the line we want to do things way farther away, like a final trip to Yellowstone,” Soares said.

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