What's an Outing Club? Why Do They Need Help?
Sometimes called "outdoor club" or "outdoor adventure program", the concept of an Outing Club at high schools is not new -- often the efforts of a few teachers willing to volunteer their own time to take students into the out-of-doors.
Outing Club members may experience hiking, camping, backpacking, climbing, birding, canoeing and kayaking -- acquiring outdoor skills while they are discovering the natural world that surrounds them. Where high school Outing Clubs already exist, teens are enthusiastic participants and the school system provides a good umbrella within which to function. However, we hear from potential adult leaders that they feel limited by their safety and wilderness training or their comfort level in taking teens outside. Transportation is a difficult issue. Financial resources are lacking. Students often do not have proper clothing or footgear. Schools do not have the specialized gear sometimes required. Logistical problems & safety concerns are all strong deterrents. It is not surprising that adults hesitate to tackle these roadblocks on their own. Teachers tell us that they have the interest, but what they need is encouragement and assistance.
Our goal is for every Maine high school to have an active Outing Club that is both enthusiastically supported by and beneficial to its community.
We will know when Teens To Trails is successful when everyone wins; schools get to promote a healthy concept, Outing Club advisors get training and support, trail managers get informed trail users, local environmental organizations get stronger ties to their communities, Maine Guides get paying jobs, the Earth gains the next generation of environmental stewards, and TEENS GET OUTDOOR EXPERIENCES. Along with acquiring lifelong skills, these teens gain confidence and a self-reliance that will follow them through life. The outcome is hope for the future.
Teens To Trails acknowledges the power of “unstructured play” in a person's life. There is a sense of place and wonder that comes only from a personal journey. These things cannot be taught. They cannot really even be actively encouraged. We can only help create the opportunities for teens to be out-of-doors. Outing Clubs provide one perfect instrument for getting teens to Maine’s many and varied trails!
My Outing Club experience this year has really opened my eyes to all that Maine has to offer and encouraged me to take my new found passion and introduce it to my family. I honestly don't think that I would have had the confidence or knowledge to do it without the skills that I've learned from my classmates and Advisor. Outing Club has really changed my whole high school experience.
~ R. Wommack, Outing Club Member