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Mountain club connects students to the outdoors

By Albert Reiss

Section: Features

February 5, 2016

Brandeis students often tend to lead busy lives; they go to class, eat in the dining hall and go to the library to study. For many, most of the day is spent indoors, away from the bucolic greenery of our campus and suburban Massachusetts. One club striving to get people outside and away from this seemingly sedentary lifestyle is the Brandeis Mountain Club. The Mountain Club “organizes trips and activities that try to touch on all sorts of outdoor recreation,” said Nina Sayles ’17. This week, The Brandeis Hoot caught up with Sayles, a member of the Mountain Club to give some insight into the club.

Even when Brandeis students have time to go outside, they often cannot commit to day trips. Given the unpredictability of schoolwork and extracurricular activities, committing to outdoor excursions can be tenuous. The Mountain Club, however, understands this and therefore has been “working to increase [their] on-campus presence so that students can spend time outside without committing to longer, more advanced trips,” said Sayles. Nina also spoke about the various on-campus activities that have been popular such as slack lining events, snow shoeing and hosting a sledding event with hot chocolate and donuts. No matter what the commitment level, the Mountain Club has events to suit any and every student’s schedule and interests.

For students so inclined, the Mountain Club also offers a variety of popular off-campus trips. According to Sayles, “This semester we will continue to run cross country ski trips, the first of which was extremely popular, within the Boston area and hopefully up north, too. Members will also have to chance to go ice climbing, and we will continue to run indoor rock climbing trips, which continue to be one of our most popular activities.” These trips often fill up fairly quickly so interested students are advised to show interest as early as possible.

What makes Mountain Club particularly unique is its “welcoming, uncompetitive environment.” commented Sayles, continuing, “Beginners never seem intimidated, and members with experience in certain activities are always willing to help teach others.” For those without much experience in the outdoors, the club’s laid back and friendly attitude will come as a pleasant surprise. Also, first timers to the club need not worry that they are the only novices, since Mountain Club “always has people on our trips who are participating in a Mountain Club event for the first time,” said Sayles.

Future goals for the Mountain Club include being able to “recruit and train more trip leaders so that we can offer a wider variety of activities and lead trips more often than we do now.” With this increase in total trips, Mountain Club seeks to appeal to a greater audience of Brandeis students.

From day one, Mountain Club’s mission has been to get the larger Brandeis community outdoors and to promote a healthy and active lifestyle. Sayles noted the importance of maintaining this lifestyle, stating, “It is important to get people outdoors, but what I like most about the mission of the Mountain Club is that we try to show that it isn’t hard … long road trips to remote places can be really great and offer experiences that you just can’t get elsewhere, but they also require huge time commitments that most students don’t have.” Even those with small-scale outdoor experience stand to reap the benefit of physical exercise encouraged by the Mountain Club.

Finally, Sayles pointed out that many of the Mountain Club trips are local and easily accessible to students. “We like to show that outdoor recreation is possible even in the Boston area and taking advantage of the opportunities do not need to be a huge undertaking. We go cross country skiing on a golf course in Weston, we’ve taken local day hikes, and the Charles River is a great asset for the club. Even at Brandeis, we want to show that being outdoors can complement the urban or suburban lifestyle that most students are used to.”

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