Students turn out for Outing Club meeting

It’s rare that 650 people fill the Grand Maple Ballroom in the Davis Center for one purpose — especially when there are only 500 chairs. The UVM Outing Club had it’s first meeting this past Thursday — a yearly event that has attracted an increasing number of students for the past 15 years. “The meeting went great, packed house, every seat was taken and there were people in the back standing. It’s gotten bigger every year,” senior and Outing Club leader Bobby Sudekum said. “My freshman year we would fill up half that room.” The majority of the 650 people at the first meeting were first-year students, Assistant Director of Student Life for Outdoor Programs John Abbot said. “The momentum we have coming off of TREK, we have 250 freshmen out on trips, and if every one of them tells their roommates how much fun they had on a trip, it grows like that,” Abbot said. “It pretty much does it’s own marketing.” “I sat on the floor,” first year Kayla Hoffman said. Along with its first annual meeting, the Outing Club has grown immensely. “When I came in ‘96, we had between 15 and 20 trips per semester,” Abbot said. “We’re currently running five to six trips a weekend, so closer to 55 or 60 trips. We went from a community of 15 leaders, and now we have 65-70.” The club is considering adding more hikes to their typical repertoire of day hikes, canoe trips, backcountry hiking trips, rock climbing trips, mountain biking trips, Abbot said. “[In a] typical fall, we put between 900 and 1000 students out on trips,” he said. Along with being one of the largest clubs at UVM, the Outing Club is a national leader. “The Outing Club currently is the largest continually student-run outing club in the Northeast,” Abbot said. Although leaders are concerned about the usual fall in attendance during the spring, they are confident after this strong start. “We’ve got a pretty big fan base,” Sudekum said. “We’re really in a good place right now.”