Outdoor activity clubs help students find niche

By Jane Louis

From kayaking to rock climbing to water skiing, if you are looking to get outside this spring, there is an outdoor activity club for you.

The Outdoor Adventure Club offers a variety of opportunities to go on camping, hiking and rafting trips. The club does not specialize in one area of outdoor activities because its members like to try everything, according to Eleanor Hodak, senior in ACES and club president.

“It’s a chance (for students) to find their niche,” she said.

The club is currently planning a kayaking trip on the Cache River in Southern Illinois on April 8-10. The members plan to camp, hike and have a bonfire in addition to kayaking, Hodak said.

No prior experience is necessary, according to Erin Riepe, graduate student and secretary of the Outdoor Adventure Club. The club welcomes students of all abilities, but teamwork skills are the most important, she said.

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    “(Students) have to be able to work with a group,” she said.

    The Outdoor Adventure Club also is involved on campus with social activities and intramural sports.

    “We’re a very social, laid-back club,” Hodak said.

    The club meets Tuesdays at 9 p.m. in 124 Burrill Hall.

    For a more specialized club, the Climbing Club at UIUC gives students a chance to go rock climbing both indoors and out.

    Members of the group have gone on rock climbing trips all across the country, according to Andy Thompson, senior in LAS and club president. Because central Illinois is so flat, the closest trips the club makes are usually to Southern Illinois.

    “There’s only so much climbing you can do in a (central Illinois) cornfield,” Thompson said.

    The club also climbs indoors at Upper Limits Rock Gym and Pro Shop in Bloomington. Some members even have small climbing walls in their apartments, Thompson said.

    “We’re pretty intense about climbing,” he said.

    The club is planning a spring call-out trip to the Shawnee National Forest on April 8-10. Some experience is necessary to go climbing, Thompson said, and basic safety knowledge is key.

    “The penalty for not knowing what you’re doing is severe,” he said.

    New climbers are welcome in the club as long as they are willing to learn how to be a safe climber, according to Thompson.

    “The more experienced climbers are happy to show them,” he said.

    The bond and trust between climbers who are responsible for each other’s lives is indescribable, Thompson said.

    “The camaraderie is unbeatable.”

    The Climbing Club at UIUC meets Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in 215 David Kinley Hall.

    The Illini Waterski and Wakeboard Club also offers students the opportunity to get outside and share their passion.

    The team competes in four tournaments in the fall and two in the spring, said Craig Blean, junior in ACES and club president. At their upcoming tournaments at Iowa State University and in Adams, Wis., the team will participate in three events: jump, slalom and trick skiing and wakeboarding.

    The club will be holding a spring call-out meeting on April 7 at 7 p.m. in room 404 at the Illini Union for new members.

    “We really encourage new members to go to spring tournaments,” Blean said.

    While some skiing or wakeboarding experience is important, tournament experience is not required, according to Blean.

    “No tournament experience is necessary at all,” he said, adding that most of the current team members did not have tournament experience before college.

    In addition to the competitions, most tournaments also involve camping, music and social activities, Blean said. The club also goes snow skiing and plays intramural sports.

    “We just like to get together and ski together.”