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Outdoors club looks to provide affordable escapes for students

Since its inception in 1939, the University of Alberta outdoors club has been working to provide something that many people assume to be inaccessible to students: affordable outdoor excursions.

Three years ago, current Outdoors Club president Kaz Haykowsky was just a casual member of the club, but then he decided to go on the club’s annual New Year’s trip to the California coast. He cited that trip as a major turning point for his involvement in the club.

“It really showed me the value of the club and the type of incredible people it attracts, and the atmosphere that it fosters,” Haykowsky said.

Now in 2015, Haykowsky and his student executive team plan trips for people of all skill levels, and try to strike a balance between a variety of outdoor activities.

“This year we’ve got a range of experience levels on our executive team, so some people want to run a lot of really technical climbing and mountain traverse sort of trips,” Haykowsky said. “Others want to run more in city fire nights or interesting social events, and more sort of camping trips.”

This range of skill level and demands also extends to the members of the club itself, with many members wanting to embark on more technical hiking and climbing trips, with others wanting to partake in more casual camping trips and fire nights.

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“We have a lot of people who have never camped before, they don’t have any gear, they don’t have any experience with it and they just want to get out to the Rockies,” Haykowsky said.

The club consistently hosts events throughout the school year, until the weather starts to cool down in December and January. These events are detailed in the club’s weekly newsletter, which can be obtained by signing up for their mailing list. For those who aren’t on the mailing list, an event calendar is also provided on the club’s website.

Most of the trips the club books end up being in either the United States or Canada, but Haykowsky noted that his ultimate dream trip would be to take a group of students camping in Iceland.

“I think there’s a lot of availability with gorgeous campsites there,” Haykowsky said. “The back country in Iceland is some of the most rugged and untouched country out there.”

Students that are interested in joining or finding out more about the club are encouraged to sign up for their mailing list, and stop by the club’s office in the basement of the south Education building, room 64H.

Membership passes for the club can either be bought at their office, or through the customer service office in the Van Vilet complex. All trips are run at cost, and gear is rented our for free to students, for a deposit that will be returned when the gear is returned. Haykowsky believes the Outdoors club provides a very important and unique service to U of A students.

“I think our club is truly unique on campus because it truly connects people to the mountains and nature in a way no other club can,” Haykowsky said. “The big appeal for being in the outdoors is that, for a lot of students, it can be really inaccessible, a lot of students don’t have vehicles, a lot of students are super busy, so when you get a free weekend that rolls around, you want to just be able to jump on one of these trips.”

There’s a reason it’s called the great outdoors.

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