The great outdoors


Outdoor Club members sit on a rock overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains on Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland. Hiking Sugarloaf was the clubs first outdoor activity.

Junior Kellum Gowda stepped to the edge of the cliff and gazed upon the grand Blue Ridge Mountains that lay before him. He was on top of Sugarloaf Mountain in Frederick, Maryland, and was joined by 15 other members of the school’s Outdoor Club. Co-presidents and seniors Emily Newman and Ryan Odenwelder joined Gowda and the club members in appreciating the natural beauty of the land around them. This was the club’s first true adventure since Newman and Odenwelder created the club.

“In our little Arlington bubble,people are so focused on academics and don’t think about the outdoors as much,” Newman said. “At the beginning of the year I made a pact with myself that I would visit as many hiking trails and outdoor lands that I can before I go to college. I thought it would be the coolest thing to be able to do that with my friends and anybody else interested in the outdoors.”

Outdoor Club is an interest group in which members participate in organizing activities and fundraising. Outside of school, the activities such as hiking and skiing are unsponsored by the school and completely run by the presidents of the club. The club’s trips so far have included Sugarloaf Mountain, Old Rag Mountain and Great Falls.

“Outdoor Club is an opportunity for people who either go outdoors a lot or have never even been on a hike before to get a chance to do something cool like camping or hiking,” Odenwelder said.

The club also actively works towards giving back to the community. Most recently, the club has made bracelets to sell for donations to Outdoor Outreach, an organization to help underprivileged youths experience nature. The club also plans to help clean up Theodore Roosevelt Island on Martin Luther King Day.

“[We] want to see kids with less money able to go on these adventures that give [kids] happiness,” Newman said. “It’s scientifically proven that people need [the outdoors]. It gives kids opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t get.”

The club has now accumulated more than 30 members of different grades, allowing the club to fundraise more effectively and engage in more activities outside.

“I originally joined because my friend founded it, but through this club and experiencing nature, its brought out this tranquil side of me.” senior Hannah Callen said. “ Hiking is a therapeutic thing for me now and I have found joy in it.”

Outdoor Club is open to all students, experienced or not, who wish to join in on these activities. The club has created a diverse community of students from all backgrounds who have found a common interest in experiencing the outdoors.

“There was one moment on our first outing to Sugarloaf Mountain,” Gowda said. “Many of our friends that had never really got to experience the outdoors joined us. I don’t think there is a better way to express what this club is all about then when we were watching the sun set my dearest friend Yonny said, ‘Wow dude I never knew I needed this, but I need this in my life.’”