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Branching Out with KOC

The Kalamazoo Outing Club enjoyed a ski trip earlier this quarter [Addie Dancer / The Index]

Since the start of the new year and the winter trimester, the nip in the air has driven most of the campus community indoors for the foreseeable future. The Kalamazoo Outing Club (or KOC) seeks to bring them back out again.

“Embrace the cold!” Yasi Shaker ‘20, a member of KOC’s executive board, said. “Spend an afternoon with us and you will warm up quickly.”

The mission of KOC, according the college’s website, is to “provide K community members the ability to experience the outdoors in a noncompetitive and supportive environment, regardless of their ability, while at the same time, complimenting the general goals of the school by providing an important aspect of the liberal arts education.”

And KOC makes every attempt to live up to this mission statement. After spending fall quarter rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, even camping in South Haven, KOC has made similar plans for winter  everything from sledding on the quad to cross-country skiing off campus. But even despite a lengthy list of outdoorsy activities under their belt, Shaker insists that KOC is, above all things, inclusive.

“You don’t have to be crazy outdoorsy,” she said. “I don’t want people to be intimidated and believe you have to be super tough — it’s not like that at all … [we] are all just doing this for fun, to get off campus for a weekend.”

And KOC has the means to do so, according to Shaker. Aside from asking for occasional payments of $20 for conferences and certain off-campus outings, the club is absolutely free. What’s more, the KOC is willing and eager to hear new suggestions for future events and help make them happen.

“If you have a trip in mind and you want to go, it’s a really good opportunity to because KOC will fund it,” Shaker said. “All you have to do is plan it.”

Thus, the numerous opportunities provided to students through KOC are, Shaker believes, worth preserving for future K students to enjoy.

“This is a really nice club we have going,” she said. “It’s an accessible way to go outdoors, because not everybody can pay by themselves … to get out of K. We really want this to be continued so people can go and do these sorts of things together.”

Currently, Shaker and the rest of KOC seek to reach out to a larger student population, with a particular interest in attracting first-year students to become full-fledged members of KOC.

“Most of us in the board are sophomores, and most of us are not going to be here next year,” Shaker admitted. “So we want to try to continue the club by getting some first-years to join. We want to help people learn how to lead and mentor others … we don’t want to let it die out.”

Those interested in becoming a part of KOC or joining the group on their next outing can contact them at kalamazoooutingclub@gmail.com or through their Facebook page. Future events this quarter include snowshoeing, winter hiking, a showing of mountain-climbing documentary An American Ascent and a trip to Central Michigan University for the Midwest Outdoor Leadership Conference.

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Branching Out with KOC