Staying Stoked With the State High Outing Club


Hannah Hart

State High Outing Club at the 2021 Homecoming parade with their first ever float on Thursday, Sept. 30.

Elisa Edgar, Managing Editor

Outing Club, in the simplest terms, is a group for people who love the outdoors or are finding a new love for it. Advised by State High teachers Mr. Donoughe for over 25 years and Mr. Gallagher for the past six, it provides a forum for students to engage in and discuss activities such as backpacking, day-hiking, orienteering, rock-climbing, outdoor survival, camping, and caving, among others.  

The club meets in advance of planned trips, usually monthly, to discuss and coordinate things like future trips. These trips can range from small, two-hour hikes to longer, all-day hikes. The most common Outing Club activities are overnight backpacking trips. In a typical year, the club would go on three or four backpacking trips, but COVID has put a damper on that for the last year and a half. Nevertheless, OC members do hope to go on a couple of trips this year, circumstances permitting. 

Donoughe and Gallagher’s roles are to work with the club officers and to help them plan activities, as well as to chaperone outings. The officers are very involved in planning and organizing events, promoting the club by creating a culture of love for the outdoors, as well as recruiting and encouraging new members. 

“I have been very impressed with the leadership displayed by this year’s group of officers, namely Brendan Locke, Luly Kaye, Alice Gipe, and Ava Langelaan,” Gallagher said. “Brendan and Luly are our senior co-presidents and they have done an outstanding job over the last couple of years. In addition to their leadership this year, it is clear that they have the vision to see the club prosper in the future, long after they have graduated. I am also gratified to see how the officers look out for the younger members and encourage them to be part of the group.”

Seniors and co-presidents Brendan Locke and Luly Kaye have both been in the club for four years now. One of Locke’s favorite memories in the club yet was made just last year. He worked with the library to organize a district-wide scavenger hunt to educate the elementary schoolers. Kaye, on the other hand, especially loved their backcountry CHOPPED trip where the club cooked thanksgiving meals on camp stoves.

“Our job as presidents is to organize fun events and to make sure everyone stays stoked,” Locke said.

Part of making sure everyone in the club stays “stoked” includes building a sense of community through creative new activities for them to explore together. This past fall, officers decided that they wanted to have a float in the Homecoming parade, and they took care of the logistics to make that happen. It was a first for the Outing Club, and members expect that it will become a regular part of the club in the future.  

Following the Homecoming Parade, students came up with the idea for their first outing of this school year. Back in November, the advisors took 16 members to Rothrock State Forest for an outdoor cookoff. The students were organized into teams and each team prepared a unique meal that was prepared entirely outdoors over fires and backpacking stoves. The officers presided as the judges and points were awarded (based on rules that were spontaneous). And this past winter, officers also organized a holiday party that involved some unique outdoor white elephant gifts.

Senior Ellie Hirsch reminisced on her favorite hike yet that she got to go along on.

“This past spring, I hiked 7 miles on the mid-state trail with a small group of friends. I found it really strengthened my connection with my friends and with the outdoors, and since joining Outing Club, I’ve been way more inclined to hike outside of what I do with the club,” Hirsch said. 

Introducing kids to the outdoors in ways that might otherwise be impossible provides a unique club experience outside classrooms and schoolwork. With constant stressors of academic performance, jobs, family responsibilities, and relationships to maintain, the health benefits of being outside can make a huge difference in young people’s lives. According to the organization Trip Outside, being out with nature can lower blood pressure, boost life satisfaction, improve sleep, relieve anxiety, and strengthen immunity. 

“It is always great to get away from civilization and to see students take a break from technology and connect with each other in the great outdoors,” Gallagher said. “It is also rewarding to see some students try things for the first time and to discover a love for the outdoors and the joy of connecting with others while gazing at the stars on the top of a mountain or telling stories around a campfire. Today life seems to move at a hectic pace, but things seem to slow down and become simpler when you’re in the woods.”