Under the Knife: Geneseo Outing Club

Leave no trace. It is the foundation, philosophy and purpose of the Geneseo Outing Club (GOC). Getting out of the campus for all kinds of activities, and coming together each Friday for a potluck, members are welcome to come and go, participate and pass, all within the context of sociability. In the words of GOC president, senior Tara Bush, "Outing Club is for everyone."

In the 1970's, a group of Geneseo students formed a small outing club, but their efforts fell through and the spirit of the group wasn't realized again until a year and a half ago. Dave Rothel started by gathering students for various trips and from there, an informal group was formed, with students coming together under the common interest of getting out of Geneseo.

GOC represents a collection of students on campus who are looking to make new friends and gain new experiences, without a sense of obligation or long-term commitment. While many groups at Geneseo cling to formal meetings, rely on semester dues and hunger for campus recognition, GOC seeks only a good time for students of common interests. Perhaps it is this casual freedom that makes the members of the club so close. "I love the fact that we go on these great adventures," Bush said, "and get a tightly-knit group of friends along the way."

Among these adventures, GOC has been "mud sliding, white water boating, rock climbing, spelunking, rappelling waterfalls, jumping gorges, back packing, winter kayak sleeping, and much more," according to Rothel. On campus, they have "scaled every building on campus, mocked superheroes battles on the green, and held tipi poetry potlucks," he said. During potlucks, which can roughly be defined as the group's meetings, each member brings something according to a theme, be it as simple as a two-liter of Pepsi or sizable as a home-cooked meal. This brings together a sort of feast, shared along with conversation, joke-telling, games, and some discussion of the group.

Members of the mailing list receive an email each week called "This Week in Outing Club," and are presented with a wide variety of activities that anyone is welcome to take part in. As sophomore Neal Petrowski pointed out, "Outing Club is only as great as what people bring to it." Anyone is welcome to throw out an idea, and they can almost be assured that others will want to get involved. Such was the case when junior Alicia Housel proposed the Alternative Spring Break trip to Kentucky for a clean-up project of the Ohio River, one of GOC's biggest achievements.

As Matt Girtler said, "There's the stuff we do, but it's really about the poeple I do it with." As Petrowski explained about his first caving trip with GOC, "We forgot that we were all strangers." From the trips to the potlucks, GOC members come from a broad range of backgrounds but bond with each other through experience.

"In my limited take on GOC, I see two kinds of individuals: those who wander and those who ponder," Rothel said. Likewise, the events that GOC pursues are as varied as the people who attend them. While members are sometimes crawling through caves, jumping out of planes and shooting paintballs at each other, other times they are taking spiritual retreats, visiting museums and monasteries, and meditating in groups. Everyone is encouraged to follow their own bliss. "I've never met anyone on rock climbing trips, but they're still Outing Club," Petrowski said. "There's something for everybody who's open to it."

Bush, who will soon be graduating, and Rothel, who stays in touch as an alumnus, have similar hopes for the future of GOC. They simply want it to continue, in the hands of students who are looking to get the most out of their experience at Geneseo.