On most Saturdays and Sundays during the school year, members of the Villanova Outdoors Club have piled into a University van by 7:30 a.m., their backpacks stocked with water, snacks, extra layers and cameras. The club organizes one to four trips almost every weekend, with activities like hiking, kayaking and camping in the fall and spring, and skiing, skating and snow hiking during the winter. This past year, they organized a total of 44 trips.

Their email list reaches 2,000-plus interested students each week. Participants can be experienced mountaineers or novice hikers, in any class, with any major. The only requirement is a desire to explore the natural world (within 300 miles of campus).

“Our mission is basically to get people outside,” says club President Lauren Holmes ’20 CLAS. “People work so hard during the week that they need a chance to relax. We always say that with each mile we cover on a hike, a little more stress melts away.”

The VOC executive board—a group of about 24 students — is always on the lookout for new trip ideas. They’ve organized paintball battles, night hikes and rock climbing. This past year, they added a bike tour through Philadelphia and an archery outing in Marsh Creek State Park. At least one member of the executive board goes on each trip to serve as a guide and a host of sorts, encouraging conversation among old and new members.

For club Vice President Jenna Kolano ’21 CLAS, the sense of community she has found in VOC is its biggest asset: “Something about being in nature often brings out a lot of honest conversation, whether we are on the trails joking around, bonding over similar struggles or celebrations, or having more in-depth discussions.”

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Great day for a great hike 🌼 #happyspring #NEATure

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