Published Oct. 4, 2023
BY MONTANA TIFFANY
Whether it be hiking with friends, backpacking through the outdoors or engaging with the environment, the Great Outdoors Club at Carmel High School has all the resources a wilderness enthusiast needs to strap on their backpacks and explore the outdoor world.
The club headed off on their first hike of the year Sept. 16 at Garland Ranch Regional Park.
First year adviser Jason Maas-Baldwin has guided the club through their adventures this year. The AP Environmental Science and AP Chemistry teacher speaks on the bonding aspect behind the club’s excursions.
“I’ve gone on six-mile hikes in the desert with kids who I had never met before,” says Maas-Baldwin. “By the time we’re done hiking together for six miles I know more about that kid than a kid sitting in my class all year.”
This school year, the Great Outdoors Club plans to partner with Ventana Wilderness Alliance in order to go on a backpacking trip to Pine Valley in November. The non-profit organization previously partnered with the club during their successful backpacking trip last year, and the club was formerly advised by Marc Stafford, who is currently on sabbatical in South America.
Junior Minna Trokel is one of the club’s co-presidents and says the club will host one official hike a month, and she hopes to have more unofficial hikes as well without club advisers.
In addition to the hikes and backpacking trips the club has organized, members also have hopes to introduce important environmental efforts to the club by doing trail restoration in partnership with the Environmental Club at Carmel High School.
Maas-Baldwin claims the club also helps more reserved students branch out.
“The more opportunities we have for kids from different social groups to connect, the better,” says Maas-Baldwin, adding that students who stay in certain social bubbles can meet and relate to other students while in club meetings and on hikes.
Senior co-president Hana Knoblich, a fourth year in the club, explains that the club also helps hikes become more accessible.
“The outdoors is something that is super important to the wellbeing of everyone,” says Knoblich. “There are a lot of people who don’t have an outlet for that, and it can be really hard to get transportation and stay safe overall. To allow people to get that ability to go outdoors is really important.”
Meeting in Room 2 on Fridays, Knoblich says the low-commitment club is open to everyone on campus.
“It’s not one of those clubs where we’re saving anyone’s lives,” adds Trokel, noting that clubs don’t need to be competitive. “But I think it is necessary in that we give students a chance to go hiking…and maybe if they normally wouldn’t be able to go hiking or if they’ve never gone before, we get to introduce them to the amazing environment, which is a really valuable thing.”